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Lichen have two methods of reproduction: one is asexual – they simply expand to cover more of the surface on which they’re living; the other is sexual but, it’s not the actual lichen that is reproducing sexually, it’s the fungus the lichen is in a symbiotic relationship with.

151228 lichen sex pontcanna trees (1)

The saucer-shaped discs in my photos are apothecia, one of the two main types of sexual fruiting bodies of the fungi in the Ascomycota group, to which the majority of lichens belong. Spores (the correct term is propagules) are dispersed from these discs by air, water or attaching themselves to minibeasties, and must then meet up with an algal partner in order to form new lichen.

151228 lichen sex pontcanna trees (2)

The yellow- and orange-coloured lichen in these photographs are, I believe, Xanthoria parietina, which is very common on both tree bark and stonework throughout Britain, and has a particular liking for Elder trees and coastal rocks.