Cloud pattern lichens

Clouds on an obelisk in the Bolton Street Memorial Park - or that's what it looked like to me.

Towards the top were reflections of the cloudy sky on the shiny stone surface.  Over the rest of the obelisk the lichen encrustation reminded me of Japanese cloud patterns - the shapes seen on fabrics, prints, and in the pruning of shrubs and trees.

Lichens are a wonderful example of the power of cooperation.  A fungus and an organism capable of photosynthesis, generally a green alga or a cyanobacterium, work together in a symbiotic relationship to form a distinct new organism.  They are able to grow in very inhospitable environments, coping with extremes of hot and cold - in the arctic, in deserts, on rocks, metals, human made structures, on plants and on soil. 

Despite this versatility and toughness, they tend to be vulnerable to environmental disturbance.  So some can be used as indicators of air pollution, ozone depletion, metal contamination and so on. 

Not quite like the canary in the mine, but sort of.

The air in Wellington is of good quality, and there are a lot of lichens growing on the old stone memorials from the colonial cemetery which is incorporated in the Park.

Do you see clouds?  Or maybe bushes?

The wonderful textures and tenacity of lichens.