Where I’m from in Ohio, lichen grows on trees and rocks, sure, but you don’t commonly see mounds of seafoam-colored lichen growing directly on the ground. What is this stuff?
It’s reindeer lichen, a common ground cover in boreal forests. (Note, though, that there are two related lichen species – Cladonia rangiferina and Cladonia portentosa – that look very similar and both go by the common name “reindeer lichen,” and I’ve no idea which this is.) Here it can often be found growing on slopes along the sides of trails and roads.
Its name comes from the fact that in tundra ecosystems it’s actually an important food source for reindeer (aka caribou). I don’t envy them. I like looking at lichen, but I’m not sure I’d want to make a meal out of it.
Just another reminder of how different the North Woods is from anywhere I’ve lived before.
UPDATE: Be sure to read the comments below. Apparently reindeer lichen can in fact be found far to the south of the boreal zone. I had no idea!