This statue of a boy was in the gardens at Ballindalloch Castle in Scotland and has been overgrown with lichens giving it an ancient, eroded look.
Lichens can survive quite happily in outer space, have been about for millions of years and are sensitive indicators of air pollution. They add amazing colour and texture to our surroundings from the limbs of ancient oaks and high mountain rocks to the mortar in our walls and churchyard gravestones. They provide a home to insects and nesting material for birds. Some lichens smell like fish while others are used to help make perfume! The characteristic orange of Harris Tweed was traditionally produced by a dye extracted from rock dwelling lichens.
Scotland has an amazing diversity of lichens, with just over 1500 species. Clean air, diverse habitats, relatively cool summers and mild winters all contribute to this diversity and abundance. Scotland is important for lichens on a European and even global scale.