Cetraria (Kaernefeltia) merrillii “Flattened Thornbush Lichen”
with Nodobryoria abbreviata

Mt. Sentinel, Lolo National Forest, MT
September 12, 2015
Robert Niese

These metallic, often iridescent black lichen are extremely common on small twigs alongside Vulpicida canadensis here in our PNW Ponderosa Pine forests. They can be found throughout the Rocky Mountains, Sierras, Cascades, and some mountainous regions of central Spain. Their black color comes from a yet identified pigment. The stringy lichen in this image is Nodobryoria abbreviata, a Bryoria-like lichen with prominent apothecia (reproductive discs). I’ve found this species to be particularly common alongside Cetraria, Vulpicida, Letharia, and Hypogymnia on Pinus twigs here in western Montana.

Letharia vulpina “Wolf Lichen” on
Pinus ponderosa “Ponderosa Pine” Pinaceae

Mt. Sentinel, Lolo National Forest, MT
September 12, 2015
Robert Niese

Wolf lichen is a striking, extremely abundant lichen in our dry Ponderosa Pinelands here in the PNW. It’s electric yellow-green color comes from a compound produced by the fungus known as vulpinic acid. It is relatively toxic and in ancient Europe concentrated vulpinic acid was traditionally used as a poison for killing wolves (hence it’s common name). Here in the PNW, however, native peoples use the lichen as a dye for fabrics and baskets. You can learn how to make your own dyes from lichens like Letharia here.

Night Sky over Ponderosa Pines

Lolo National Forest, Sapphire Mountains, MT
June 6, 2014
Robert Niese

Nighttime photography can be a difficult, time-consuming skill to learn through trial and error. If you’d like some good how-to guides on getting the perfet stellar shot, check out Dark Clear Skies and download a star-viewing program like Stellarium or, for your mobile device, SkyView.