Xanthoria Polycarpa Lichen

Original charcoal drawing

Compressed charcoal on paper.

By Nick McMillen


The original of this piece has been sold, however prints of this image and others may still be available for purchase through our Prints page.

It was the colour of the lichen on this twig that originally caught Nicks eye, but when examined closer he was staggered by the intricate, tiny structure the lichen had grown.

Lichens comprise of two organisms, fungus and algae, which have formed a symbiotic relationship. Fungi don’t produce chlorophyll so can’t harvest their own energy from the sun as plants do.

Algae do photosynthesize and have formed a partnership with fungi. In return for a supply of vital nutrients to the fungi, the algae gain protection from ultra-violet light by the structure of the fungi. It is the fungi which is the dominant partner in the relationship, in a way ’farming’ the algae to produce the food it needs.

Found beneath an ash tree on Windmill Farm, Colemore, Hampshire, UK.

If you have other proposals or ideas for commissions please use the contact form to contact Nick.