Map lichen grow directly onto the rock, covering their surfaces with yellow and green shapes reminiscent of islands, hence the name! As they expand, they release the substances they require to grow upon the rock using self-produced acids. Map lichen can survive long dry periods and grow extremely slowly. They would need hundreds of years to achieve a surface area equivalent to the palm of your hand. When we unintentionally trample upon map lichen, we are in effect destroying an ancient being! Lichens provide scientists with valuable information about when an area was freed from ice. In order to draw attention to their significance as well as their increasing endangerment, the title “Lichen of the year” has been bestowed since 2004. Our map lichen (rhizocarpon geographicum) was so honoured in 2014.