8 LICHENS TO KNOW AND LOVE

RUFFLE LICHEN
Parmotrema hypotropum

Ruffle lichen, Parmotrema hypotropum, is a large foliose lichen that is common on twigs and trunks of hardwood trees in open places. Look for a light gray color, and upturned lobes with long eyelash-like cilia. Reproduction is by soredia that occur in powdery linear masses (soralia) along the margins of the lobes. The undersurface is dark except near the margins, where there is a broad light band. 

Ruffle lichen, Parmotrema hypotropum

Ruffle lichen, Parmotrema hypotropum.

MANY-FORKED REINDEER LICHEN
Cladonia furcata

Cladonia is our largest genus of fruticose lichens. Some species of Cladonia consist only of a distinctive tangle of hollow strands. These are the “reindeer lichens.” Many-forked reindeer lichen has a distinctive gray color, and, when examined closely, reveals a few flake-like “squamules” (Our other reindeer lichens are entirely smooth. Many-forked cladonia occasionally produces apothecia, but it reproduces principally by asexual fragmentation, as the reindeer lichens are ground-dwelling and extremely brittle when dry,

Reindeer moss, Cladonia furcata.

Reindeer lichen, Cladonia furcata.

COMMON GREENSHIELD
Flavoparmelia caperata

Common greenshield is a large foliose lichen that grows on bark. It’s easy to spot by color alone as is is a distinctive yellow-green, not the plain gray of most other lichens seen alongside it. Reproduction is by soredia, produced in powdery masses on the upper surface.

Common greenshield, Flavoparmelia caperata

Common greenshield, Flavoparmelia caperata.

ROUGH SPECKLED SHIELD LICHEN
Punctelia rudecta

Rough speckled shield lichen is a medium-sized foliose lichen that is extremely common on trees. The genus Punctelia is characterized by minute (use a hand lens) openings in the upper cortex (pseudocyphellae) appearing as whitish specks. The species P. rudecta reproduces by isidia, and these presence of these structures help separate it from another common local species (P. subrudecta) which is sorediate.

Rough speckled shield lichen, Punctelia rudecta

Rough speckled shield lichen, Punctelia rudecta.

BRITISH SOLDIERS
Cladonia cristatella

British soldiers is a very popular lichen, and perhaps the only North American species with a well-known common name. It is a typical “cladoniform” lichen, i,e, a fruticose lichen that consists of two parts: a primary thallus which is the first thing to grow and is usually crustose or formed by numerous small plates called squamules, later followed by an upright structure called a podetium. In some cladoniform lichens, including this one, the podetia are tipped with apothecia (the “soldier’s” red “hats”). It grows on the ground or wood in open areas.

British soldiers, Cladonia cristatella.

British soldiers, Cladonia cristatella.

LEMON LICHEN
Candelaria concolor

Lemon lichen is a brightly colored lichen that is very common on bark in open areas. Although it is most definitely foliose, sometimes the lobes are so small as to require a lens to make them out, and so it can appear crustose, especially when it is abundantly producing granualr soredia, as it often does. It you see a tree that looks as if it has been lightly spray-painted yellow, it is probably lemi n lichen. (Note: A lichen called “hooded sunburst lichen” (Xanthomendoza fallax) is another brightly-colored small foliose one that is common on trees in our area. That one is more golden-yellow. A chemical spot test -KOH – is helpful to separate Candelaria from Xanthomendoza.)

Lemon lichen, Candelaria concolor.

Lemon lichen, Candelaria concolor.

DIXIE REINDEER LICHEN
Cladonia subtenuis

Dixie reindeer lichen is one of several tangled fruticose lichens that are completely smooth (lacking the little squamules on the podetia that characterize many-forked reindeer lichen). The branches usually end in twos, and the overall color a has a yellowish cast.  have podetia terminating in cups. Dixie reindeer lichen is common on the ground in dry open areas.

Cladonia subtenuis

Dixie reindeer lichen, Cladonia subtenuis

SMOOTH AXIL-BRISTLE LICHEN
Myelochroa galbina

Smooth axil-bristle is a light gray, medium-sized foliose lichen that is common on tree trunks and twigs on open areas. It doesn’t have any evident means of asexual reproduction (neither isidia nor soredia), but it abundantly produces apothecia. The medulla is a pale yellow, and the apothecia are deeply concave and have a shiny brown inner surface.

Smooth axil-bristle lichen, Myelochroa galbina

THE LICHENS ARE A FASCINATING SHOW!
(earplugs recommended)