An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Why Many Lichens Are So Green After It Rains

12-4-12 wet lichen IMG_6171Have you ever noticed that the color of some lichens is a more intense green after they get wet? There’s a very good explanation for this phenomenon. Lichens are made up of an alga or cyanobacterium and a fungus. The alga or cyanobacterium makes the food, and the fungus absorbs the water. A typical lichen has a three-layered structure. A middle layer containing algal cells entwined in threadlike fungus fibers called hyphae is sandwiched between two layers of fungal tissue. Lichens that turn bright green after it rains contain green algae which contains chlorophyll, a green pigment. When it rains, the fungus (which surrounds the algae) soaks up water like a sponge, causing the fungus to become more transparent, which allows the green pigment of the algae to be seen more clearly.

4 responses

  1. Susan in NH

    Fascinating! Your information never ceases to amaze!

    December 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

  2. Wow! What a story and what timing. Yesterday when I went out for my walk at 1:00 pm all my rocks were bright green and so was the ground moss. It was most beautiful. I had to turn around and tell my wife to come outside and take a look. Thanks for being on the same wave link. 😃

    Brandt Denniston Sent from my iPad (603)496-5690

    December 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  3. Helen Ann

    That is the coolest thing I’ve heard in a long time – thanks!

    December 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm

  4. Eugenie Francine

    What’s not to love about lichens!!!

    December 4, 2012 at 8:02 pm

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