Happy Holidays from the Witchwood - Dec 13

My last visit of the year had two purposes. First, I was hunting new lichen specimens, as I have been doing my last several visits. 

I finally re-located Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria) so I could take a sample

Lichen in genus Tuckermanopsis - I need to learn more chemical tests to determine species

Second, I was collecting natural materials to decorate my solstice (Christmas?) tree. 

Most years, my annual Christmas Tree party is usually the most important social event I host. I provide ample treats and entice my friends to my home to decorate my tree. Since that wasn't possible in 2020, I went in a different direction. 

For the most part, I skipped Christmas this year, but I did get a tree and decorate it with a few special ornaments, plus ferns, lichens, pinecones, and other elements from the Witchwood. 

Tree catkins, clubmoss, two lichen species 

Wintergreen, clubmoss, fern fertile frond, lichen

Clubmoss, white pine cone

I thought hard about whether this was appropriate or not. Except in special circumstances*, I refrain from bringing home wild materials from my land or anywhere else. Firstly, because collection of plant materials is prohibited on much public land. But of course, this was my own property. Secondly, because careless collection can damage populations, and I take my stewardship of the Witchwood seriously. 

Ultimately I decided that it was acceptable. Decorating my tree with materials from my land is an expression of my love and appreciation of the place. It deepens my connection and increases my dedication to its conservation. To minimize impact, I collected only a small volume of material, and only from common species where the populations were unlikely to be harmed. 

Now that the holidays are over, I will return these decorations to the Witchwood. It's possible that some of the lichens may even survive - some species can live dormant for weeks or even months completely dried out. But even if not, returning them instead of throwing them out expresses my respect and returns them to the carbon cycle. They will be eaten or decompose, providing nutrients onward. 

*Special circumstances justifying removal of natural materials:
1. Voucher specimens for submission to local herbaria for scientific purposes, including documenting species distribution.
2. Collection of species which require microscope examination or chemical tests for positive identification. My moss, lichen, liverwort collection falls in this category.