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Rutgers professor uses lichen to help cities go green
Date:10/25/2011

collaboration," Demaray says. "I had actually worked with lichen before, covering unusual objects with it because I was interested in the idea that grown lichen, as a material, indicates long periods of time. Many high rises are beautiful granite and sandstone buildings and with this project, I like the idea that people who work in them can create their own lichen gardens."

One of Demaray's students actually began calling this process "lichaffiti," like graffiti, because all one needs to cultivate it is open a high rise window a few inches and apply lichen slurry on the building's exterior surface.

"If the lichen doesn't take, it will simply dry up and blow away to propagate itself in other more favorable conditions," says Demaray, who is quick to point out that the project in no way condones the planting of lichen without a building's permission.

For the Art in Odd Places Festival, Demaray planted small plots of lichen slurry and also installed mature lichen-covered plaques with the permission of several buildings in New York City. Once the slurry is spread into place, it takes about three months for the lichen to propagate.

"People of the community can now watch lichen slowly grow on these buildings," Demaray says. "A number of different buildings invited me to do larger installations of lichen and, as it stands now, there is one building on 14th Street that may have me culture lichen over its entire surface starting from the top and then slowly growing it all the way down to the ground."

Natalie Howe, a graduate student studying ecology and evolution at RutgersNew Brunswick who is also taking courses at RutgersCamden, is working with Demaray to identify lichen thriving in urban environments.

"A lot of times when people think of nature in the city, they think of lovely but very carefully managed and maintained landscapes," says Howe, a Highland Park resident. "But I think Elizabeth's project is different in
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Contact: Ed Moorhouse
ejmoor@camden.rutgers.edu
856-225-6759
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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