This is “membranous dog-lichen” interwoven with a species of beaked moss (likely Kindbergia oregana, but I could be convinced it is Kindbergia praelonga). The “pelts”, as members of the genus Peltigera are commonly known, are perhaps my favourite lichens. How can one find fault with their texture, colour and form? And how can one not be intrigued by the lichens anyway, “organisms” that are actually a composite of a fungus and either green algae or blue-green algae (or, on occasion, all three!)?
If you look closely, you’ll see a few orange-red structures along the edge of the thallus (the body of the lichen). These are the apothecia; these fruiting bodies from the fungal portion of the lichen will eventually release spores. However, spore release is thought to be a poor way for lichens to reproduce – when the spore reaches its new environment, the fungal component of the lichen begins to grow, but it must somehow find its related alga. It is thought that lichens better propagate themselves through breakage and distribution of a part of the thallus, which distributes all parts of the composite organism to the new environment.
Ethnobotanical note: In Lichens of North America (a must-have book for any lichenophiles), the authors state that the membranous dog-lichen was used by the Kwakiutl tribe of northwestern BC as a love charm. The authors go on to wonder, “it is not clear how (or if) it worked”. I’ve been trying out a few different methods with it for this purpose, but I haven’t been successful yet. I’ll keep you posted.