From Xplor for Kids
January 2021 Issue


British soldier lichen
©Jeffrey Holcombe |

What Is It?

  • I’m named for a coat.
  • But my cap’s what you see.
  • I have leaves and branches.
  • But I’m not a tree.

In February, the bright red “caps” of British soldier lichen pop into view. This algae-fungi mashup is named for the red coats British soldiers wore during the Revolutionary War. Most lichens look like scaly, gray green plants, but they’re not. They form when the right fungus meets the right alga. The fungus gives the alga water, and the alga returns sugar made from sunlight. Together they grow and make more of their combined kind. Learn more at


British soldier lichen
British Soldier Lichen

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This Issue's Staff:

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Alexis (AJ) Joyce
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White

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