Umm el-Jimal in Bloom – April 1, 2012

A “bloom” of lichen at Umm el-Jimal

The following set of pictures illustrates the effects of lichen on the appearance of basalt. Basalt stone is normally a dark steel grey color, but accumulations of dead lichen resulting from growth cycles of many years result in calcified encrustations (caliche) that give some stones the appearance of light-colored lime stone, as seen in the first picture (House XVIII). The next three pictures, taken April 1, show a bloom of living lichen, which is particularly colorful this year in a northern section of the UJ ruins. The free dictionary defines lichen as “The mutualistic symbiotic association of a fungus with an alga or a cyanobacterium, or both.” That’s about as integrated as living beings can get.

Flowers in bloom at Umm el-Jimal

In April all of Jordan is ablaze with a huge variety of spring flowers. Umm el-Jimal, though it is usually described as “in the desert,” has a fair share of these. Following are close-ups of a few that I found spectacular against the backdrop of basalt-grey and lichen white.

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