Voting for a national lichen

Blue Felt Lichen, NS

Blue Felt Lichen, Pectenia plumbea, on ©Troy McMullin

Remember the buzz some two years ago when the Royal Canadian Geographical Society ran its contest for Canada’s national bird?

Well, this year lichen-loving Canadians will be invited to cast their vote on a national lichen says research scientist Troy McMullin, who is overseeing the initiative at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Macnamara members will recall the image-rich presentation — The Secret Life of Lichens —McMullin shared with us in 2017, underlining that the world of lichen is beautiful and fascinating. He added to that last year, pointing out examples of their remarkable forms and colours on a club field trip to find rare lichen on the Burnt Lands Alvar.

The national competition will follow the selection of provincial choices. McMullin explains:

“I am overseeing the initiative, but each province and territory has a representative overseeing the selection. The reps decided how it was going to be done. Some put it out to a public vote, while others selected a group to vote (e.g., those knowledgeable about lichens).

This is the process that was followed was done in Ontario, where we have a new [provincial] lichen selected,” he added.

To date

Ontario’s selection has not yet been announced but on the LichenNS website I found that “as of January 30, 2019, the Blue Felt Lichen (Pectina Plumba) has been declared the official provincial lichen of Nova Scotia. A poll was held by LichenNS that was met with 565 responses, resulting in a win for the Blue Felt Lichen.”

The same site reports that that Newfoundland has chosen the Newfoundland reindeer lichen Cladonia terra-novae and that New Brunswick has chosen the Beard lichen, Usnea longissimi.

What will happen with the results?

As McMullin says in a CBC article, “The main goal of the project is to simply increase the awareness of lichen, not necessarily to push for the provinces to officially adopt them as symbols, he said, but noted that would be ‘amazing.’”

“They’re abundant, they’re beautiful, they’re important and they’re under-appreciated. Hopefully this process will draw attention and raise their profile a little bit.”

McMullin promised to let us know when the voting site for the national competition is up and we’ll be sure to share it with you. .

Use Twitter? You’ll find him there as @TroyMcMullin; you’ll find us there as @MacFNC.

New Brunswick Beard lichen

Beard lichen, Usnea longissimi, on ©Troy McMullin

Reindeer lichen

Newfoundland reindeer lichen Cladonia_terrae-novae_Salmonie_on ©Troy McMullin