A burst of colour
In the treeless Arctic, large splashes of orange Sunburst lichen can be seen from long distances away.
Lichens come in three main forms: fruticose (resembling tiny shrubs), crustose (a crust attached so tightly to its substrate that it cannot be flaked off), and foliose (called this as they are flat, like the leaves that make up most foliage). As foliose lichens, Sunburst lichens are attached to their rock substrates only at certain points.
In lichen time
Sunburst lichens were among the first groups of lichens used for lichenometry, a technique used to determine the age of an exposed rock surface. By measuring the growth rate of lichens, and then measuring the size of lichen colonies on surfaces in a similar environment, researchers can make good estimates of the date when a glacier had receded to a certain point, or when a certain stone monument was built.