Lichens and Boise

In the past month, I finally finished my taxonomic project on Florida lichens. It took over five months to manage all the specimens and ship them to herbaria around the world, but it was time well spent.  I am now working on creating dichotomous keys to Florida lichens and hope to create a guide that will foster more research into these organisms.

The other day, I was filing specimens back into the herbarium and found a very old collection. It was an exsiccate from the 1890s. An exsiccate is a set of lichens curated and annotated by an expert and then sold to herbaria. It creates a standard, and serves as a useful identification tool. Although the envelope was fragile, the collection was stunning, and looked as if it had just been collected. It was nice to know that despite not being digitized or cared for, the specimen endured. As long as a physical collection remains, the specimen will remain.

I went deep into the Owyhee Mountains in Idaho, on a two day adventure with fellow BLM employees. It was stunning land, more wide and vast than I had ever seen. We went into a BLM wilderness area looking for sage grouse and slickspot peppergrass (a rare plant). Slickspot peppergrass grows on very dry and hard clay, that cracks. Its called desert pavement. There are lots of rare and endemic plants that grow on this surface.  Alas the rain made some roads impassable, so we weren’t able to reach the most remote areas. But it was great to get out and see the land.

Barry Kaminsky

BLM- Idaho State Office

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