Arboreal Lichens - The 'leaves' of winter

In sheltered, humid sites in the Caledonian Forest, the high moisture content in the air encourages the growth of a profusion of lichens on tree trunks and branches. Easy to overlook in summer, when they are hidden by the trees’ leaves, they are much more conspicuous in winter. These lichens act like leaves, using the sun’s energy for photosynthesis, although that is for their own benefit, not the trees.


Click on an image below to view the gallery.

Lichens, including beard lichen (Usnea filipendula), oakmoss lichen (Evernia prunastri), ragged lichen (Platismatia glauca) and heather rags lichen (Hypogymnia physodes), on a hazel tree (Corylus avellana) near Dundreggan Lodge.
Beard lichen (Usnea filipendula) and other lichens on the branches of birch trees in the gorge of the Affric River in Glen Affric.
Lichen-covered branches of oak trees (Quercus petraea) on Dundreggan, with birch trees behind.
With its large, green-lobed form, the foliose lichen, tree lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria), seen here on the trunk of a rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia) near Dog Falls in Glen Affric, is the most leaf-like of the lichens in the Caledonian Forest.
Beard lichen, heather rags lichen and ragged lichen on the trunks of silver birch trees (Betula pendula) near Dog Falls in Glen Affric.

Stay connected

Sign up to our mailing list to receive our monthly ‘Tree News’ e-newsletter and other occasional emails about volunteering, events, appeals and fundraising. It’s the perfect way to stay up to date with the latest news about the wild forest and it’s wonderful wildlife.

Sign up