Originally published:
Austrailia Runner / Kiwi Trail Runner
May 2017

NOTE:  I Spy was a concept I developed and co-wrote with Vicki Woolley to encourage Australian and New Zealand trail runners to learn more about their running environment. Each edition focused on a different area of interest.

Lovely Lichens

Trail runners happily run, sit and fall over on this silent environmental warrior with scarcely a second thought for the role it plays in creating the experience that feeds our souls.  Next time you’re out on the trail, take some time to look and learn about lovely lichen.


Lichen is an organism that results from a symbiotic relationship between fungus and algae.  The algae produce carbohydrates to feed the fungus and the fungus protects the algae and provides moisture. Lichens are considered the oldest living organisms on Earth. Some arctic lichens are 8,600 years old.  Now that’s some serious teamwork!


Lichen on Uluru features in the dreamtime of its traditional custodians, the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people, who belong of the oldest know human culture, dating back 60,000 years.

Kirrily Dear