Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Exploring The Non-Vascular World

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Non-vascular plants such as these crustose lichens have originated hundreds of millions of years ago and are among the oldest organisms on earth. Lichens occur in some of the most extreme environments on Earth—arctic or alpine tundra, hot deserts, or along rocky shores like here on Shaman Island. They lack an internal system of transportation for water, minerals and other nutrients. As a result, they also lack structural support and most appear as flat vegetation spread across rocks. Lichens are actually non-vascular compound plants that are a symbiotic combination of algae and fungi. The fungus makes up the majority of the lichen tissue. Photosynthesis occurs in the algae and the fungus protects it from drying out and provides it with minerals.

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