Five species of mosses and lichens to look for in January and February

A naturalist in the Gulbenkian Garden

Mosses and lichens are known as good biomonitors: based on the species found in a particular place and how tolerant they are to pollutants in the atmosphere, researchers can estimate the quality of the air. 

Mosses belong to the bryophytes group, plants that do not have a vascular system to carry water and other products, which therefore spread slowly cell to cell. Lichens are symbiotic associations between fungi and algae, in which the fungi obtain the sugar produced by algae during the process of photosynthesis, becoming protected throughout the year. 

Although they are very different life forms, both are microscopic beings and to identify them you better use a magnifying glass with a magnification power of 10 times. However, even with the naked eye, you can observe them carefully and appreciate the complexity of this world on a small scale. 

Take the challenge and look out for these five species of lichens and mosses, identified with the help of Paula Matos, a researcher at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, and Cristiana Costa Vieira, curator of the herbarium at the Natural History and Science Museum at the University of Porto.

How many of these species can you find? The challenge is to photograph or draw the mosses and lichens you spot and share your images with us, sending them to [email protected] We will publish the best in Wilder magazine.

Every month, Wilder magazine suggests the nature not to be missed in the Gulbenkian Garden.