Unidentified Lichen Discs

The largest of these discs (apothecia) is 3mm across.

I spent several hours trying to determine the species of lichen shown in the photo above. Finding the genus (Lecanora) was not difficult, but I could not narrow it down to the species.

Using visual comparison is problematic because many of the species within this genus display similar characteristics.

My best guess (as a non-professional) would be that this is Lecanora pacifica, also known as Pacific rim lichens. This species has a very small area of distribution including a swath along the western coasts of Canada, the United States and northern Mexico. And add to that a small section in central Turkey. The location that these photos were taken lies within the known area of distribution.

Besides the Lecanora, this branch is also home to what appears to be Parmalia sulcata in the upper right, Usnea wirthii along the sides and common green shield lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata) at the bottom.

None of the online photos I found which were listed as being Lecanora pacifica, looked much like my sample. I did find out that this species is difficult to identify by sight alone, because there is so much variation in its physical appearance. The few photos which did look like mine, did not have a species name listed.

I would be grateful to hear from anyone who is able to identify this variety. I have come to the conclusion that lichen identification is, in many cases a challenge best left to the experts.

For more information about lichens go to Discovering the World of Lichens.

Gallery | This entry was posted in Fungi & Slime Molds and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Unidentified Lichen Discs

  1. Hooray! I was hoping you were going to post something… and look how fabulous it is! Those are so COOL looking! Good luck with identifying it. I’ll see if I can have some people take a look, too.


  2. montucky says:

    There is a photo of Lecanora pacifica on the Burke Museum site that does look a lot like yours.


  3. skadhu says:

    I’ve found this a couple of times, most recently on a fallen tree. I know very little about lichens, but I had tentatively identified it (based on what it looked like and the description of where it was normally found) as Ochrolehia oregonensisthese pictures looked very similar, but I’m not sure if they’re really what I found. Lichens are hard! For me, at least.


  4. I LOVE the blogosphere! Delighted, too, to discover new blogs through these great comments!


  5. Finn Holding says:

    Hello Rick, you’ve got some magnificent photo’s there – especially the last one. I love it. I can’t help with suggestions for identification, but I’m intrigued to know how the species of Pacific-rim lichen established a population in Turkey. Great post.


  6. I, too, wondered about that disjoint distribution. Presumably the species started here and got carried there, but it could have gone the other way.

    Steve Schwartzman


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s