In a low winter sun: Cladonia lichens growing around a sandstone outcrop on the Cumberland Plateau, Sewanee, TN. Few plants can survive the thin soil and extreme summer heat near these outcrops. Masters of difficult conditions, lichens move in.
Further north, this genus of lichen blankets parts of the tundra (and feeds caribou). The tundra is another place that is too challenging for most plants, as are mountain tops, rocky coasts, bare cliffs — all places that lichens spread their slow-growing algal-fungal fingers. Another winning mutualism.