- What is lichen?
- The ecological significance of lichens in nature and in human life
- The practical significance of lichens in nature and human life
- The industrial value of lichens
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of lichens in nature and human life. Indeed, despite their tiny size, they are an essential element in the Earth’s ecosystem. Moreover, over the years of research, man has learned to use lichens in various areas of production.
But, unfortunately, not many are able to boast that they are familiar with this amazing family of plants. In order to correct this, let us tell you about the true meaning of lichens in nature and human life.
What is lichen?
Lichen is an amazing symbiosis of mushrooms and algae. At the same time lichens have absorbed the best qualities of both families. They quickly absorb water, as it is typical of fungi, and the algae genes provide them with the mechanism of photosynthesis. That is why the lichen is unpretentious to the habitat and can survive even in the most severe climate.
But what is the significance of lichens in nature and human life? We should start with the fact that these plants significantly affect their own habitat. This is due to the fact that lichen acid partially destroys the surface, thereby reducing its density and allowing weaker plants to reach the light.
The ecological significance of lichens in nature and in human life
Like any plant, lichens recycle carbon dioxide, while releasing oxygen. This fact becomes even more important if we take into account that the mentioned plants feel well in those parts of the world where others simply do not survive.
Lichens are also excellent biosensors. They instantly react to air pollution. Therefore, scientists, studying the ecological situation in the region, first of all take samples of lichens for analysis. In addition, these plants retain heavy metals within themselves, therefore, they can even detect minor bursts of radiation.
The practical significance of lichens in nature and human life
Lichens are a source of carbohydrates for many animals. For example, wild goats love this delicacy very much, so they wander from place to place in search of it. In the North, where winter lasts a very long time, lichens have become the basis of the diet for animals such as elk, deer, and wild boar.
But among people there are those who are not averse to feasting on this representative of the flora. True, not every kind of lichen can be used for this purpose. Thus, lichen manna is considered edible, as well as gyro phore. The latter, by the way, is the basis for many Japanese dishes.
The industrial value of lichens
So, the role of lichens in nature and human life is very clear, but what about the industrial side of the issue? Probably, it is no secret to anyone that in recent years this plant has been actively used in many industries.
So, oak moss and eververn plum added to the perfume, in order to give them a special touch. And some varieties of lichen are used to create colors. The reason for this is the same property to hold metals.
But much more important is the fact that many of them make drugs. For example, parmelia are used to prepare drugs for epilepsy, Icelandic moss helps with poisoning, and lobaria relieves pneumonia. In addition, some varieties of lichen have antibacterial properties.