Agricultural Engineers?

You might not think of a lowly lichen as an engineer. Most people might laugh at the idea. A few though would know their story.

Frog Pelt Royalty free images from


Lichens are fairly common on the moist Pacific Northwest central coast. One can find them growing on mossy rocks, soil, and dead trees in moist areas typically under the 2,200-foot elevation.

If we were to travel north into Canada, we could find areas hosting nearly 30 different lichen species. We could even find some in northern California.

Would we see them?

Peltigera lichens are found on all continents. There are several different types of lichens that includes over 580 species of macrolichens and over 1,400 species of microlichens. Our region is particularly rich in lichens.

Easy to Overlook

Frog Pelt or Dog Lichen is commonly found in the Pacific Northwest. This small lichen is easy to identify.

Frog pelt creates relatively large rubbery olive green-gray lobes. The lobs are typically between .04 and .9 inches wide and nearly flush to the ground.

What makes them special?

Lichens are ecologically important as food and shelter for wildlife, large and small, and indigenous Americans

Lichens are fairly intolerant of environmental change and are very sensitive to changes in air quality, moisture, and drainage. They won’t thrive in dirty air.   


All lichens share a common ancestry and all Peltigera associate with nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria Nostoc. This association allows them to pull nitrogen from the atmosphere.

Nitrogen is required for healthy plant growth. It is often in short supply in forests. In more arid lands, lichens help stabilize soil and sand.  

Other Uses

Peltigera lichen have been used medically. This includes: Treating wounds, urinary disorders, thrush, cough remedies, tuberculosis, antioxidant, and rabies.

Dog lichen is not typically a mammal food source.

An Engineer?

Lichens are a hard working combination of fungus and algae. They have evolved from a simple scavenging fungus to a lichen by cultivating a ‘symbiotic’ (or mutually beneficial) relationship with algea.

Algea creates the food. The fungus provides the protection and support structure. This organism can live several centuries.

Keep in mind, this sometimes disheveled-looking plant has no roots, stem, flowers, or leaves. It depends on slender holdfasts to stay in place and bears raised orange-ish fruiting bodies along the lobe margins. Simple, yes. Simply amazing. Oh YES.

–Common Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon State University (
–US Dept. of Agriculture, NRCS (
–Wikipedia, Peltigera (
–USDI, Bureau of Land Management, Survey and Manage (
–The New Garden Encyclopedia, Wise & Company
–Royalty free images from

Varieties of Yellow Pond-lilies can be found across the US.

Why is it possible to drown a common house plant and yet there are plants that grow gleefully in water?

The common Yellow Pond-lily has a beautiful bloom and large, heart-shaped floating leaves (nearly 18-inches in length). The bloom is nearly 4-inches and held just above the water surface in spring through early fall.


The Yellow Pond-lily has developed a specialized type of underwater tissue that helps it survive. This tissue, called aerenchyma, facilitates the underwater movement of large amounts of oxygen and other gasses. This tissue holds eight times the amount of oxygen, compared to a house plant.

Respiration in water lily-type plants is anaerobic (meaning the process occurs without oxygen). Many ponds and slow-moving waters where it grows are often low oxygen. This respiration process creates ethanol (a type of alcohol) within the plant’s cells.

This alcohol is poisonous to the plant. To get rid of the alcohol quickly, the plant evaporates it up through the aerenchyma cells and bloom. The pretty yellow blooms smell strongly of alcohol which attract pollinating flies, and create a small bottle-shaped tuber to store sugars in (explains the common European name of ‘Bandy-bottle’).


Yellow Pond lilies have been used in traditional medicines remedies. There are warnings related to tannins and selecting materials from a clean water source (see the Natural Medicinal Herbs website at Note: Not all varieties or parts of the Yellow Pond-lily are edible or appropriate for use.

The Edible Wild Food website ( reports that the Yellow Pond-lily was a common food source for many Native people. Natives leached the rootstocks collected in the spring and winter of tannins and boiled or roasted for flour. Seeds were often cooked like popcorn. Flowers can make a refreshing drink.

The National Park Service reports Yellow-Pond lily species ‘Nuphar polysepalum’ growing in the Denali National Park/Preserve lowlands in Alaska. When cooked, this variety is also tasty (see Denali National Park, Alaska,

Where to find it

Yellow Pond Lilies grow in a wide variety of aquatic habitats as far south as Baja California, and north into Alaska. Habitat ranges from hot desert ponds to ponds frozen more than half of the year!

Want it?

Propagate Yellow Pond Lilies through seed or division and will grows in containers!

For more information, see Plants for a Future at Image is Royalty free from

Over the course of Summer Term 2023, from June 26 to August 25, I have been an intern with the Oregon Sea Grant Extension Tourism Program under the guidance of Associate Professor for Sustainable Tourism, Miles Phillips ( I received four credit hours from the College of Forestry’s Forest Ecosystems and Society program. I am in the Tourism, Recreation, and Adventure Leadership major, with a concentration in Sustainable Tourism Management. Over the course of the term, I have been working approximately 20 hours per week and working on a wide range of tasks. My main internship objectives were to 1) gain knowledge of key tourism organizations in Oregon, 2) gain knowledge of Oregon tourism impacts, 3) gain knowledge of OSU Extension, Sea Grant, and the Tourism Program, 4) gain experience and skills in writing blog articles for public education, 5) gain knowledge of key elements of customer service, and 6) gain knowledge and experience in providing customer service training.

A central focus of my internship involved writing at least 10 blog articles for Extension’s Sustainable Tourism Blog. Each of these articles were a few hundred words long, which allowed me to enhance my skills in creating engaging content while deepening my knowledge of Oregon’s tourism industry. A couple Tuesdays of my internship I worked in the College of Forestry’s marketing and communications offices, where I was able to get direct feedback from the college’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Kevin Lee. Below are my blog article topics:

Perspective on finding a job in the tourism industry in 2023
How Oregon Tourism is Structured and Funded by the Transient Lodging Tax
Economic Impacts of Tourism in Oregon
What is OSU Extension and Specifics of Extension Tourism Program
Sustainable Tourism Management major at OSU
Practical Customer Service Course
Tourism Industry Representative Organizations
Hawaii Conference Announcement
Oregon Trails Summit Announcement
OCVA Summit Announcement
NET Conference Announcement

A smaller task that I did regarding the blog was reposting old blog posts about local flora and fauna. This task taught me how to schedule blog posts and about general blog organization. I also did general research on Costa Rica, and put together a fact sheet for guests on a group trip. This was for guests on an experiential learning trip to Costa Rica that Extension is hosting in late August. Furthermore, I also completed the Practical Customer Service Training offered by Sea Grant Extension and assisted in converting the course to a new platform. My role for this task was ensuring that the course was user friendly and well put together from the student’s perspective.

I also dedicated time to creating a GORP Master List, consolidating information from numerous Excel spreadsheets. This experience provided me with hands-on expertise in meticulous data organization, ensuring the Master List’s accuracy and usability. The Oregon Coast Visitor Association was in need of a more specific subset of data, and I was able to easily extract this from the Master List through data manipulation. Also for GORP, I did some research on guided tours, and compiled a list of interview questions that could be used in order to create a case guide for a certified guide’s experience.

This internship had a few opportunities for me to meet more people in the industry as well. I was able to meet with Marie Simonds, who is the Executive Director of the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. This meeting offered me valuable insights into real-world industry needs and challenges, specifically in employment and community needs. During my internship there was also a summer gathering for Sea Grant. This allowed me to network and learn more about the different sectors and projects that Oregon Sea Grant is doing. A goal of this meeting was to generate ideas for broadening Oregon Sea Grant’s impacts, reaching a wider audience, and improving connections. Attending this event was extremely informative for me, and I was able to learn about the education, research, and extension roles in Sea Grant. Lastly, I sat in on a meeting with Curry County Tourism, learning about their current and future projects.

A final task for my internship was a grant proposal. With assistance from Miles, I drafted and submitted a proposal for a grant to the Marine Debris Foundation. This grant proposes to reduce plastic pollution along the Oregon Coast through regenerative tourism, by providing training and equipment for GORP certified guides to be able to implement marine debris awareness and removal as part of their tours, thereby also educating and involving a large number of people who visit or live along the Oregon coast. I believe that this introductory grant writing experience has given me a foundation to draft grant proposals in future positions. The proposal requested $26,800.

This internship concludes my time as an OSU student! I recommend this type of internship.