Teaching myself terrestrial shrubby lichens

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 11 September 2010 17:07

Necessity is a great motivator. That's why I have been looking at terrestrial lichens and associated NVC communities at Frensham (I'm Surrey) and I have made some progress. Please note that I am very very green at lichens so please take these identifications as preliminary. I am only showing the ones that I was most confident with though. The area I was looking at today is dominated by the lichen Cladonia portentosa which I have photographed before. I wanted to see exactly what NVC communities are there so I threw a number of quadrats. I didn't manage to ID all the lichens, but I think I did get most of the shrubby ones right. All of these species are new to me. Commonest after Cladonia portentosa was this darker, greyer, more sorry looking species, Cladonia furcata (above and below next to the brighter and neater looking Cladonia portentosa).
Just when I thought I had separated these two, I noticed some small patches of what I originally thought were Cladonia furcata had dropping tips to the branches. A closer inspection showed they were quite different and I am pretty sure this one is Cladonia ciliata, all the branches tend to bend over in the same direction. Very beautiful at high magnification.
I saw a few more lichens that I was not able to identify and then came across this greenish black one, it looked a bit slimy and unpleasant and I was pretty sure it was not a Cladonia. I think this is Cetraria aculeata, one of the NVC community constants for SD11. This was very pale compared to most of the other material I saw that was blacker.
And finally, I noticed that not all of what I thought was Cladonia portentosa was portentosa! A fairly similar looking species has droopy branches that droop in all directions radially (rather than all in one direction). This one I am pretty sure is Cladonia arbuscula.
And here is Cladonia arbuscula (top left only) with Cladonia portentosa. Please remember I am still very green on these and if anyone has experience of this group I would appreciate any comments on my ID. Either way, Cladonias do not feel quite so impenetrable now and I might have just found something to do in the winters...


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