Lichens are conspicuous in New Zealand rainforest, where they grow from light-filled forest margins to areas of deepest shade. They can be found attached to tree bark, hanging from branches and twigs, and covering leaves. In particular, large, leafy species of Sticta and Pseudocyphellaria often dominate wet forest. Unlike green plants, some forest lichens can convert nitrogen gas from the air into usable forms. When the lichens die and decompose, the nitrogen leaches into the soil to be used by other plants. This rich lichen habitat is in beech forest on Mt Holdsworth, in the Tararua Range.
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Department of Conservation
Photograph by Lindsey MacFarlane
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