Biology / Botany
Cladonia is a cup-bearing lichen, a major source of food for reindeer and caribou. Lichens are found throughout the Northern hemisphere in woodlands, bogs, tundra, rocky outcrops and talus slopes. Ernst Haeckel drew several species of lichen, but this jewelry is modeled after his Cladonia cornucopiae, a close relative of Cladonia cristatella or “British Soldiers.” The spheres on the edge of the cone of the earring represent the spores of the lichen. A lichen consists of two separate organisms, an alga and a fungus. The algal symbiont of of lichens is capable of nitrogen fixation. In some ecosystems, lichens provide most of the nitrogen available to organisms living there.