Oran’ga Likin’ Orange Lichen

Orange Lichen © 2008 Bo Mackison

These splotches, formally known as lichens, grow on rocks. They can be any number of colors – yellow, orange, gray, green, blue, black. And they can grow in the most inhospitable places in the world. This colony of orange lichen is from Walnut Canyon National Park in northern Arizona.

Lichens are actually colonies of two different organisms co-existing and working together: algae which lives in filaments built by fungi. They use photosynthesis for nourishment.

Some lichen grow only a few millimeters in a century, so these lichens may be thousands and thousands of years old.

Yellow, Orange and Gray Lichen

Yellow, Orange and Gray Lichen © 2008 Bo Mackison

For me, lichens are the kind of thing that brings out experimentation when I’m photographing. Do I capture the texture, the design, the mix of colors?  Well, having fun is a big part of taking photos for me. And this stuff was amazingly fun to shoot. I like lichen.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Great texture in your photo. I can almost feel it in my eye. Though it does look like some items in my fridge. 🙂

  2. At times I ask myself the same questions – do I look at composition?..texture?…color? I guess that’s what makes this photoblogging fun. We get to look at all of it at once. Thanks for the short education about lichen. Love the colors of this particular type.

  3. suehenryphotography says:

    I have also been fascinated with lichen and have photographed lichen from time to time. However, I really didn’t know anything about lichen and so enjoyed reading the information you provided.

    And, like you, I struggle with what we are drawn to in this type of photograph;the texture, design, or color. Whatever it is that pulls us into your images works. I’m loving the orange, textured, abstract designs!

  4. Wow, that’s vivid. It looks as though it will leap right off the page!

  5. You and my husband would get along great! He did a big time study while in college of lichen here in MI, we still may have the box of dried up specimens in the basement somewhere:)

  6. The photos remind me of aerial photography, like looking down on a geo formation. They’re great!

  7. I love the one with yellow and grey and orange with just the orange really sharp. Looks like it’s abstract.

  8. I like lichen too, Bo. These are really pretty! I also try to be careful when hiking so my boots don’ destroy life forms as old as many of them are.

  9. Beautiful texture and colors. Great details. I like lichen and have yet captured a nice photo of lichen. Very, very nice! 🙂

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