April 15, 2019
The way that life grows on other life may be especially visible in semitropical and tropical locations. In Florida festooned trees draw my attention and wonder. A walk this winter in the Myakka River State Park with my friend Jean provided more instances of such complexities than usual—probably because Jean pointed out some beautiful examples at the very beginning of our wandering. The culmination was a tree and its inhabitants that Jean calls her favorite tree. Perched bromeliads (some people call them air plants, though that is a misnomer) and mosses growing on trees are easy to spot and appreciate. So are many species of lichens, which are not plants at all but hybrid life forms that combine fungi and (usually) green algae or cyanobacteria. Jean’s favorite tree is special for hosting a variety of lichens, including the subtlest—pale washes of color that make you lean in to see if you can catch when one faint hue gives way to another. Even a short walk through a forest of growth on top of growth may be enough to make you marvel at the connectedness of life, perhaps even to recall the John Donne poem.
And a detail of the photo above: