debbieC's picture


Observed: 2nd June 2011 By: debbieC
S159 Neighbourhood Nature - course complete
debbieC’s reputation in Fungi and LichensdebbieC’s reputation in Fungi and Lichens
lichen 1

found in/on dead tree. 'Fingers' up to 1cm.


Caution: Do NOT use iSpot to identify fungi to eat!

Some fungi are very poisonous so a mistaken ID could have serious consequences.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


AlanS's picture

Colour at tip?

Yes, definitely a Cladonia.

If you get the chance to visit the colony again, perhaps when it has matured a little more, you should look at the tips of the podetia (the finger-like bits).

Basically, with the inevitable one or two that don't quite fit, Cladonia can be divided into those that have brown fruits (apothecia) and those that have red fruits. The apothecia are conspicuous blobs of colour, but they are preceded by much smaller structures, pycnidia, that are like tiny coloured dots, generally, more or less, approximately, with luck, the same colour as the apothecia.

In this case, the very cylindrical, blunt-tipped and strongly powdery (sorediate) podetia make me think of Cladonia macilenta, which commonly grows on dead trunks and wooden posts in the way shown here, and if it had red pycnidia I would be reasonably confident of the ID. However, at present, I cannot rule out some of the brown-fruited species.

Annoying. These are good photographs, showing the lichen well, but it is just not at an identifiable stage at present (without complex chemical techniques).


debbieC's picture

How do you tell its age?

How do you tell its age? That was my 1st visit to the New Forest, so, dont know when I may go back again, I live on Isle of Wight, that little bit of water is a nightmare. BUT, it is the first time I have seen, or noticed, that lichen, until I did the Neighbourhood Nature course. Now I see lichen everywhere ;)and as a result of that course, want to know more. However my main interest is insects.. so while I find lichens more & more curious, I cant invest too much time on them, would love to tho.
So Alan, what is it?


debbieC's picture

oops PS

sorry, but yes, very dead tree, so how would you/I tell the age of that lichen?


AlanS's picture


"so how would you/I tell the age of that lichen?"

Perhaps degree of development is the better concept here, and for Cladonia, the development of coloured dots (pycnidia) or coloured blobs (apothecia) is the best criterion. (Pycnidia are essentially the precursors of apothecia, but their role is still disputed.)

Pretty well always, a Cladonia that seems to have well formed podetia will have either pycnidia or apothecia at the tips (the latter rare in some species). Even Cladonia coniocraea, one of the possibilities here, which at first sight has simple, often pointed podetia, usually has at least some of those podetia with inconspicuous brown pycnidia at the tip, visible with a lens.

But sometimes, a Cladonia colony just hasn't quite reached that stage. I have looked at the highest resolution of your photographs on a large, HD monitor, and excellent though your photographs are, they just don't appear to have pycnidia yet.

Consequently this is one of those times when the lichen hasn't quite developed enough for certain ID. The podetia may not in fact have reached their final shape and I cannot rule out the common and very variable C. polydactyla, or the brown-fruited C. coniocraea, or a couple of other species.

As I say, annoying, as good photographs of a macro-lichen should normally get a definite name.