|British Soldiers Lichen - Cladonia cristatella|
These were growing along an old cedar split rail fence along Glenwood Ave at Theodore Wirth Park, along with a handful of other lichen species. My daughter, Naomi, first noticed the lichens while we were looking for caterpillars one evening. This section of fence is one of the most lichen diverse spots I've come across in the Twin Cities (not that I've made a comprehensive search at this point). There used to be an old cedar split rail fence at Westwood Hills Nature Center that was very abundant in lichens, but the fence is gone now. There still is an old cedar fence along my parent's backyard that I remember used to have a lot of lichens growing on it, but the lichens are gone now (maybe because there's more shade there now); why I remember lichens on this fence is mystery, I don't think I really cared about such things as a kid.
Anyway, this is one of the few lichens with a common name that at least some people know. It's fairly distinctive, and also fairly pollution tolerant, so it often grows where people live. I'll have to start seeking out old cedar fences to see what else turns up.