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14th Street & Boardwalk Trail

Location #4

Location #4



As you walk up 14th Street, keep an eye out for the delicate mint-green to pale yellow lichen dripping from the branches of nearby trees. One type of this lichen is called Old Man’s Beard. It grows in gracefully draping garlands with a clear central cord. A second type is called Witches Hair, which grows in clumps and looks more like a tangle of equally sized threads. Lichens like these house a symbiotic relationship between an algae and a fungus. The algae photosynthesizes to provide nutrients, and the fungus provides a protective structure to prevent drying and other damage. These lichen can only thrive in places with excellent air quality. You might also see examples of what we more typically think of as “fungi” near the parking area. Some fungi are decomposers, breaking down dead vegetation and returning the nutrients to the soil to feed new growth. The downed logs nearby may contain a common rainforest decomposer known locally as bear’s bread, or conk. Bear’s bread has a dark woody top with a creamy white to light brown underside. In fall, you might see one of the many mushrooms in the genus Russula in the wooded area. Russulas are squat toadstools with caps ranging from green to brown to red with thick white stems that break cleanly like chalk when disturbed. In this case, the toadstool we see is actually just the reproductive parts of an underground network of threads twining in and around the tree roots. This is called a mycorrhizal network. These threads have a mutually beneficial relationship with the trees; the tree provides sugars created through photosynthesis and the fungus provides nutrients like phosphorous and iron it takes up from the soil.


Old Man’s Beard

The tree’s mint garland
swaying in the ocean breath:
two lives sharing one.

Directions to next location

Next continue up the boardwalk to the first wooden bench on your left.

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