Seven and a Half Mile Hike
Mt. Hebo 4/23/15

This was a delightfully classic Oregon Hike
It rained the entire time.

Mt. Hebo has some wonderful viewpoints from which
one can see miles of the Oregon coast
north and south of Pacific City.
However, on this day it was so misty that
nothing was visable except the mist.

The group took this as an opportunity to admire and
study the Lichen -- of which there were lots ---

A lichen is a combination of a fungus and an algae
or a combination of a fungus and a cyano-bacteria).
The two different life forms live
in a symbiotic (that is mutually beneficial)
relationship. The combined life form is what we call a lichen.
The combined life form has properties that are very different
from the properties of its component organisms.

Lichens come in many colors, sizes, and forms.
There are about twenty thousand different species of lichen.
Some lichens are plant-like (but lichens are not plants -
(plants are an entirely different life form).
Lichens may have tiny, leafless branches (fruticose),
flat leaf-like structures (foliose),
flakes that lie on the surface (crustose),
or other growth forms.

Lichens may superficially look like, and grow with, mosses,
but lichens are not related to mosses.
Lichens, mosses, fungi, and plants are different biological Kingdoms,
that is, different life forms in the tree of life.

Lichens do not have roots that absorb water and nutrients as plants do.
Instead lichens produce their own food from sunlight,
air, water, and minerals in their environment.
While lichens may grow on plants,
they do not live as parasites that take nutriants from the plants.
Instead lichens merely use the plants only as a substrate.

Some recent scientific studies have shown that lichens
are relatively self-contained miniature ecosystems in and of themselves,
with more microorganisms living with the fungi, algae, and/or cyano-bacteria,
each performing other functions as partners in a system that
evolves as an even more complex composite organism (holobiont). (1)

But enough general information, lets get on to our wonderful, hike in the rain.

At the traihead our able leader
assembles the group
and asks
"Do you really want to do a seven
mile hike up 1200 feet in the rain"

The answer from these hardy hikers was
a resounding "yes, lets go".

It was a nice trail,
but one could not see
very far ahead

The very estute,
outdoor people in our group
detected signs that it rains
a bit on Mt. Hebo

There was lots of one particular kind of lichen
known as Witch's hair
Also called: old man’s beard,
grandfather’s beard,
and Methuselah’s beard

Witches Beard is a very important food for deer and elk.
They can eat this when other food sources are covered by snow.

This lichen also helps fertilize the larger trees in the forest
Lichens have the ability to fix nitrogen directly from the atmosphere.
This is why they are so helpful to forest ecosystems.
When lichen fall to the ground they fertilize the forest floor
with nitrogen which is very important neutrient for trees in the forest.
Each year, lichens can add 2-4 kilograms of nitrogen per acre.

Witch’s Hair was used by Northwest Natives as a source of fiber.
It was used on dance masks as false hair,
Ponchos and footwear were woven from it.
It was also used for diapers and bandages.

The scientific names is: Alectoria sarmentosa

Alectoria means "unmarried"
This problably refers to the fact that
that the primary way witch's hair propagates is that when small pieces
are blown off a branch and land on another one it grows.

Alectoria sarmentosa is sensitive to air pollution
and it can be used for air quality monitoring.

Lichens come in a wide variety of forms.
Some weeks ago while hiking on the Salmon River,
I found wht I thought was a lichen.

With the help of some knowledgeable friends,
I was able to identify the specimen as
Lichenomphalia umbellifera.
Interestingly Lichenomphalia umbellifera is a lichen
What I had found was the fruiting body of a very special lichen.

As you know, a lichen is a combination of an algae .
What I found was the fruiting body of the fungal component
of this particulr lichen.

The reason it was difficult to distinguish
this specimens as a lichen
is that it's a basidiomycete lichen (basidiolichen) which is rather rare among lichens
click here to rtead abut this particualar type of lichen.

One amazing thing about this particular type of lichen is
it produces spores that must land on a very specific type
of algae in order to grow.
Nature is amazing in that this can in fact happen.

Click here to see and read about the Lichenomphalia umbellifera lichen that I found

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Directions to the Trailhead.
1) Take Hwy99 west toward the coast
2) stay on Hwy 99 through Sherwood, Newberg and Dundee.
3) Take Hwy 18 bypass -- go passed the Sheridan Correctional Facility
4) At Valley Junction go right on Hwy 22 for 24.8 miles.
5) Go passed the Mt Hebo Ranger station.
6) soon after the Range Station,
7) Go right on FR 14 - (sign says Mt. Hebo) proceed for 4.6 miles
8) Enter Lake Campground -- trails starts at the far end of the parking lot

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge


















1) Adapted from