LOCATION : SNAG LAKE, SIERRA MOUNTAINS, CA
MATERIALS : WOLF LICHEN
Wolf Lichen also known as Letharia vulpina grows on the bark of living and dead conifer trees. This lichen is a symbiotic relationship between algae and a fungus. The algae help photosynthesize the light from the sun producing sugars for the fungus to eat. The fungus in return help plants absorb the mineral nutrients necessary for growth in extreme environments.
The bright yellow green color has historically been used as a dye by the indigenous tribes of the Northwest. It has been used for medicine as well as a toxin known as vulpinic acid that was used to hunt wolves and foxes.
Lichens also are indicators of good air quality and can be used to determine the impacts of humanity on the environments where we live. Lichens also absorb radioactive fallout and will pass on the cesium through the food chain. The use of lichen as a food source for deer and caribou can be passed onto the humans that consume their meat.
In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I camped at Snag Lake within a healthy forest of mixed conifer trees that are covered with the vibrant florescent green lichen. The forests glow with color a few feet off the ground as a result of the deer eating what they could reach.
I found numerous fallen branches and lichen covering the forest floor and began collecting the material. Two trees standing beside one another both contained the lichen on their bark. One of the trees was alive and healthy and the other one was struck dead by lightning. I created a line of florescent lichen that connected the two trees together, bridging the two worlds of symbiosis together.