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Calcareous Rimmed Lichen

Calcareous Rimmed Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCCalcareous Rimmed lichen forms roundish white spots on exposed rock, it has a surface that often cracks like dried mud and can become spotted with tiny black spots. This is the calcareous rimmed lichen. Calcareous Rimmed Lichen is found worldwide wherever limestone rock exposes itself to the elements. In North America, it is more common in the west. It is found growing on all parts of Vancouver Island. Read More….


Catillaria Chalybeia Lichen

Catillaria Chalybeia Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCThe Catillaria Chalybeia lichen looks like tiny black dots usually found growing on top of other rock lichens. The black dots are very small, ranging from just 0.15 mm to 0.5 mm in diameter. The rims on Apothecia are narrow and black in color, the discs may be black also, but are usually a dark grey with a flat surface. Apothecia are scattered widely across the rock and are rarely found in clusters. Read More….


Common Orange Lichen

Common Orange Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCThe Common Orange Lichen is a leafy lichen. It is also known by the names yellow scale, maritime sunburst lichen and shore lichen. Look for it on inland rock bluffs, along trails, and on trees, it is also quite common on boulders along lakes and streams. It is quite common on the BC coast. They are a leaf lichen. The lobes of the thallus are up to 4 mm in diameter and flattened down.  Read More….


Cumberland Rock Shield

Cumberland Rock Shield, Vancouver Island, BCThe Cumberland Rock Shield Lichen is a grey to green lichen which is found across much of North and South America. It can be found in all the Pacific Northwest. It is a relatively large lichen and grows on rocks, where it is tightly attached and impossible to remove. They can grow to 30 cm across the colonies can be of various shapes.  The lichen is divided into deep irregular shapes near the center and often have a black edge. The underside of the lichen is a light brown color. Read More….


Fork Tube Lichen

Fork Tube Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCForked Tube Lichen grows abundantly on the BC coast and if you just look around in our coastal forests, you will see it. Lichens grow on every part of the BC coastal region and when you start to look for them, you will realize that they are very abundant and so very pretty to see, take a very close look and you will be amazed at their beauty. Read More….


Freckle Pelt Lichen

Freckle Pelt Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCFreckle Pelt Lichen is a leaf lichen, the leaves are loosely attached and are up to 5 cm wide. They are dull grayish-green when dry but turn bright green when wet. You will see scattered warts on them. The lower surface sometimes has broad, cotton-like, inconspicuous veins, that darken inward from the tips of the lobes. They are very common and widespread across Vancouver Island. Read More….


Golden Moonglow Lichen

Golden Moonglow Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCThe Golden Moonglow can be found on rock bluffs and boulders. The golden moon glow lichen is a small round lichen. It usually is no bigger than a dime but noticeable because of the way the dark, disc-shaped fruiting bodies in the center turn greenish-yellow outer edges. One unusual aspect of this lichen is its squamulose form. A squamulose lichen falls somewhere between the leafy foliose lichens and crusty crustose lichens and has tiny, curled lobes around its outer edges. Read More….


Hypogymnia Heterophylla

Hypogymnia HeterophyllaHypogymnia Heterophylla, or as it is more commonly called, Seaside Bone Lichen can be found on southern Vancouver Island. This lichen is currently listed as threatened under the Species at Risk Act. On the southern coast of Vancouver Island, there are seven known populations of Seaside Bone Lichen, they are all located within 40 km of each other. Read More….


Icmadophila Ericetorum

Icmadophila Ericetorum, Vancouver Island, BCIcmadophila Ericetorum, or as it is more commonly called fairy puke can be found in the Pacific Northwest and on all of Vancouver Island. Icmadophila is a genus of crustose lichen. The genus has six species that can be found in the northern hemisphere. Of these, only Ericetorus can be found in North America. It has a mint green crustose thallus that is dotted with bright pink apothecial disks. It grows on moss that covers rotted wood and peat. Read More….


Lipstick Cladonia Lichen

Lipstick Cladonia Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCThis is lipstick Cladonia Lichen, one of my favorite lichens. The Lipstick Cladonia is actually a symbiotic growth of fungi and algae. It is found on dead wood, the base of trees and on rocks. It grows in temperate to boreal regions all over the world. As you walk through our islands forests of the Vancouver Island, look down,  you just might see the tiny forests with their gardens of wonder. Read More….


Lobaria Oregana Lichen

Lobaria Oregana Lichen, Vancouver Island, BC Lobaria Oregana Lichen tends to break off and fall to the ground during the winter windy season here in Pacific Northwest. When they fall to the ground, they feed the forest. Forests have very nitrogen-poor soil environments and any added fertilizer is much needed. Without that nitrogen, the forest could not grow. Lobaria Oregana needs the trees to reach the canopy and as the lichen falls to the ground around the trees it adds its nitrogen to the forest floor, where it is absorbed by the trees. Read More….


Lobaria Pulmonaria

lobaria Pulmonaria, Vancouver Island, BCLobaria Pulmonaria or as it is more commonly called lungwort. It is a foliose lichen and its thallus is lettuce green, quite leathery with ridges and grooves on the surface. The thallus is up to 15 cm in diameter. The asexual reproductive structures can be seen on the surface. Small pockets of cyanobacteria are often seen on the lower surface of the thallus, they darker than the green surface of the thallus. When it is wet, it becomes a bright green, but it will dry out to a dark brown color. Look for small hairs on the underside. Read More….


Oak Moss Lichen

Oak Moss Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCOak Moss is a species of fruticose lichen that is valued for its oriental fragrance and as a fixative base. It grows throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, in all of B.C. and on all parts of Vancouver Island. The pale greenish-gray thallus is up to 8 cm long and is palmately branched. The upper surface is green with pale gray reproductive bodies, Oak moss can vary in color, being minty green or almost white when dry, or dark olive green and even yellowish when wet. Read More….


Parmotrema Perlatum Lichen

Parmotrema Perlatum, Vancouver Island, BCParmotrema Perlatum Lichen is a leafy lichen with a grey-green thallus that is loosely attached to tree branches, cement walls or rocks, it grows all over the Pacific Northwest.  This lichen grows best in old-growth forests, it grows on trees usually along the branches, it is capable of absorbing nitrogen from the air and when the lichen falls to the forest floor, it releases the nitrogen into the soil. Read More….


Petrigera Membranacea Lichen

Peltigera Membranacea Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCThe pelts are perhaps my favorite lichens. They come in such varieties and colors. Peltigera Membranacea  Lichen is also called the membrane dog lichen or just dog lichen. It grows all over the BC coast. Look for them on trees and rocks. Lichens can propagate themselves better through breakage and distribution of a part of the thallus, which contains all parts of the composite organism including the algae to the new environment. Read More….


Pincushion Sunburst Lichen

Pincushion Sunburst Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCThe Pincushion Sunburst Lichen is a very pretty lichen that grows all over the Pacific Northwest.  Found on dead and living twigs and in the axils of wide-spreading branches, quite often found on fruit trees and hardwoods. Shaded specimens take on a light yellow hue. The small yellow tightly knit clusters of apothecia help in its identification. Its Latin name is Xanthoria polycarpa. Read More….


Pilophorus Acicularis

Pilophorus Acicularis, Vancouver Island, BCPilophorus acicularis, or as it is more commonly known, the nail lichen or the devil’s matchstick, it is a species of lichen in the Cladoniaceae family.  The lichen begins life as a rough crust on the rock surface and then develops fruticose stalks that can be up to 3 cm tall and about 1 mm thick, you will find black apothecia on the tips.  It grows directly on silicate rocks in dense clusters. It is found in the Pacific Northwest, and on all of Vancouver Island. Read More….


Pixie Cup Lichen

Pixie Cup Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCIf you look closely at a Pixie Cup Lichen you would that the cup is where the spores reside, these are fungal hyphae entwined about a colony of algal cells. When a raindrop lands in the cup, they are scattered about. The next generation of Pixie Cups will not grow until the soredia connect with the host algae, Pleurococcus which is a genus of green algae in the family Chaetophoraceae. Read More….


Reindeer Moss Lichen

Reindeer Moss Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCReindeer Moss Lichen grows in arctic and northern regions around the world. It grows on the ground and on rocks. It looks like a green spongy moss and grows to be up to 10 cm high. The stems, or stocks, are hollow and branch out many times. Although it is called reindeer moss, it is actually a lichen. It grows on the whole coastal region of BC. Lichens are two separate organisms. They are made up of fungi and algae, which live and grow together.  Read More….


Rhizocarbon Oederi Lichen

Rhizocarpon Oederi Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCThe Rhizocarpon Oederi Lichen grows all over the Pacific Northwest. This crustose lichen forms large pale rusty color colonies on rocks near rivers and lakes. Sometimes the patches have darker brown tints in it and when growing in the shade they can take on a greenish color. Found along the coast on both granite and limestone rocks at the edge of small rivers or around lakes. Read More….


Shingled Rock Shield Lichen

Shingled Rock Shield Lichen, Vancouver Island, BCShingled Rock Shield Lichen is a foliose lichen commonly found on the BC coast. It is pale green with brown circular formations when young. The body of the lichen is composed of pale green leafy shaped structures. They are small and flat against the rock, not upright, although they can be pulled off. Young ones may be thinner and more curly while mature ones are wider and flatter. When they are in a young stage of life, roughly circular orange-brown craters will be present in the body. These fade and finally disappear with age. Read More….


Lobaria Pulmonaria Lichen, Vancouver Island, BC,
Lobaria Pulmonaria Lichen, Vancouver Island, BC,, Photo By Robert Logan

The most striking thing about lichens is the enormous variety of colors and shapes. They can be orange, deep, pale or bright yellow. They may be green with a yellow tinge, deep green or olive. Some are gray, pale or dark brown, others are mauve, ivory and even black. They grow on trees, on dead wood, on bare rock or barren soil.Lichens grow on every part of Vancouver Island and when you start to look for them, you will realize that they are so very abundant and so very pretty to see, take a very close look and you will be amazed at their beauty.

Lichens have long been thought as plants. Indeed their behavior is quite similar to that of plants. Nevertheless they have been mostly ignored by botanists and often regarded as simple, odd and unusual organisms. They are composed of two different entities that support one another, one is a fungus and the other is an algae. Living together in such a way is referred to as symbiosis. The nature of this close relationship is still not quite resolved although lichens are commonly referred to as the standard example of a symbiosis.

Forked Tube Lichen, Vancouver Island, BC
Forked Tube Lichen, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Commonly three different growth forms of lichens may be distinguished: crustose, foliose and fruticose. Crustose lichens grow on the rock as a tightly attached crust. They cannot be removed from this substrate without damage. Foliose lichens have an upper and a lower surface. They are flat like the leaf of a tree. Their lower surface can grow tightly on the substrate but they can usually be pried loose without much damage. Fruticose lichens my grow upright like a miniature shrub or they may be pendulous like a the hair of a beard.

As you walk through our islands forests, look down, there you just might see the tiny gardens, gardens more grand than any forests. These gardens usually grow on the fallen logs and in hidden corners of the forest. Surrounded by ferns, tree seedlings and small plants, minute forests of lichens that have small, grayish green leaves. They cover the log with tiny upright spires that rise toward the sunshine and at the tip of each you will see a beautiful red cap. This scene repeats itself all over the forests of Vancouver Island.


4 thoughts on “Lichens”

  1. Hi there, we are wondering about Old Man’s Beard and Witch’s hair? What are your thoughts and observations on those lichens?

    Thank you.
    Wendy and Sequoia

  2. Wonderful source of information on local lichens! I appreciate it, and will use as a learning tool to supplement my complex guide! Thank-you!

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