Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Some Lichens of West Virginia

It probably seems like I haven’t been out in the woods much this month but actually just the opposite is true. I have been out so often and seen so much I haven’t had time to figure out what I have seen let alone blog about it. I have had an interest in lichens for some time now and just recently one of my friends became interested as well, which has now spurred me on to search and identify more. She came over to West Virginia a couple of times and we have been having a ball searching for them.

I could write about what make a lichen a lichen and how they have been used and stuff like that but most of that information is easy to come by, so what I thought I would do show the pictures of the lichens I have found and write a little about the identifying characteristic. I think that would be more useful to nature nerds like me, especially those in WV. In some cases my friend and I have spend an hour or more trying to figure them out. Right off the bat you will need a hand lens if you want to do this. Although it pained me, it seemed the only way to correctly ID some and to learn was to take a tiny pinch and bring it home so I could go through the keys and my giant Lichens of North America book. Some of these are from previous trips and years but I thought it would be more useful to have them in one blog rather than hop from one location to the next. So here goes.

At first the ones I liked the most were the fruticose lichens we found. I thought they would be the easiest to identify so I started with them.

Cladonia chlorophaea (Mealy pixie-cup)

Cladonia chlorophaea (Mealy pixie-cup) has sodedia in and on the edge of the cups and just generally looks mealy as compared to other pixie-cup lichens. This is the most commonly found. Often it looks like it has a brown rim.

Cladonia pyxidata (Pebbled pixie-cup)
Cladonia pyxidata (Pebbled pixie-cup)can be easily confused with the Mealy pixie cup. I just hope I have them correct on this blog.

 Cladonia fimbriata (Trumpet lichen)

Cladonia fimbriata (Trumpet lichen) are tall and have a narrow trumpet shape leading up to the cup. The Sordia are finer and less grainy than C. chlorophaea.

Cladonia pleurota (Red-fruited Pixie Cup)

Cladonia pleurota (Red-fruited Pixie Cup) are much easier with the red pycnidia (small flask-shaped reproductiove structure) on the edge of the cup. Without that red they could easily be confused with the Cladonia chlorophaea. But don't think they are British Soldiers because the soldiers don't have cups.

Cladonia cristatella (British Solider) 

Cladonia cristatella (British Solider) is a fairly common lichen that most people recognize but it can be confused with Cladonia macilenta (Lipstick Powder Horn). Most of the time I have seen C. cristatella they have been bunched up like those above.

 Cladonia macilenta (Lipstick Powder Horn) 

Cladonia macilenta (Lipstick Powder Horn) lichen are a little more spaced out and not as robust at the top. It is more of a red cap.

Diabaeis baeomyces (Pink Earth Lichen)

Diabaeis baeomyces (Pink Earth Lichen) are pretty unique and not likely confused with many others. The trick it to see them and not confused them with slime mold. At first it looked like greenish gray clay but when I looked closer I saw the pink top (apothecia) and the undeveloped smaller white ones. It can be common in disturbed areas.

Cladonia floerkeana (Gritty British Soldiers)

Cladonia floerkeana (Gritty British Soldiers) have stems that look gritty as opposed to the smooth looking British Soldiers. Technically they are densely covered with granules and /or small squamules. So basically if you see something that looks like British Soldiers but just a little different check out the description of C. floerkeana and see if that is what you have.
Cladonia coniocraea (Powder Horn lichen)

Cladonia coniocraea (Powder Horn lichen) can be a little confusing, at least to me, since some of them come to a point and some form a small cup at the end. At first I thought I had two different species but really it was just one.
Cladonia polycarpoides (Peg lichen)

Cladonia polycarpoides (Peg lichen)
 Cladonia beaumontii (Pale-fruited funnel lichen)

Cladonia beaumontii (Pale-fruited funnel lichen) look like the powder horn lichen but with leaf-life structures growing out of the sides which almost make them look miniature Christmas trees.

Pycnothelia papillaria (Nipple or gnome fingers)

Pycnothelia papillaria (Nipple or gnome fingers) as the common name suggests do look like tiny fingers. You really can't confuse it with anything else.
Of course there is one official Reindeer lichen but unless you are on your hands and knees they all look alike.

Cladina mitis (Green Reindeer Lichen)

Cladina mitis (Green Reindeer Lichen)

Cladonia subtenuis (Dixie Reindeer Lichen)

Cladonia subtenuis (Dixie Reindeer Lichen) does not have gaping holes at the branching nodes.

Cladina stellaris (Star tipped lichen)

Cladina stellaris (Star tipped lichen) forms in groups of small clumps.

Cladonia multiformis (Sieve Lichen)

Cladonia multiformis (Sieve Lichen)

OK, so now after all that I wrote please don't take it as authoritative because I am still learning and I have given it my best shot.  If anyone is sure about a species I have named incorrectly please leave a comment and let me know what it should be. What I would like to stress is that there are so many wonderful shapes and forms of lichens and all fun to learn about.

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