Lichens of the Bodie Hills (1)

You can’t wander far in the Bodie Hills without noticing some of the colorful lichens growing on rocks throughout the area. Look closer, and you will see a wide variety of shapes and colors, including some that are inconspicuous at first glance. Nearly all of the lichens in the Bodie Hills are saxicolous (they grow on rocks). Many, like Acarospora, are crustose (tightly attached to the substrate, often broken into cobble-stone like “areoles”); some, like Rhizoplaca, are  squamulose (composed of small, overlapping, scale-like lobes); a few, like Umbilicaria, are umbilicate (attached to their substrate only at a central point).

These are some of the lichens found in the Chemung Mine area on the north side of Masonic Mountain—a place where both the flowering and non-flowering floras seem particularly diverse and colorful.

TCM-23477-lichen

Gold cobblestone lichen, Pleopsidium flavum.

Acarospora rosulata

A brown cobblestone lichen, Acarospora (probably) rosulata.

TCM-23511-lichen

Desert firedot lichen, Caloplaca trachyphylla.

TCM-23514-lichen

Green rock-posy, Rhizoplaca melanophthalma, is one of the most abundant
and widespread lichens in the Bodie Hills.

Rhizoplaca spp.

Two kinds of “rock-posy”: Rhizoplaca melanophthalma (left)
and Rhizoplaca peltata (right).

Lecanora garovaglii

Sagebrush Rim-lichen, Lecanora garovaglii
TCM-23469-lichen

A rock tripe, Umbilicaria krascheninnikovii (I think).

Lichen identification gets fairly technical, involving color tests using various chemicals, and microscopic examination of the spores. But a couple of lavishly illustrated books are now available to help the non-specialist identify many lichens from photographs, macroscopic features, and descriptions:

Lichens of North America, by Irwin Brodo, Sylvia Sharnoff, and Stephen Sharnoff. Yale University Press, 2001. (links: Yale U. P. and Amazon)

A Field Guide to California Lichens, by Stephen Sharnoff. Yale University Press, 2014. (links: Yale U. P. and Amazon)

Other good visual resources include Stephen Sharnoff’s on-line lichen gallery and the lichen groups on Flickr, including Lichen Communities of North America, and Lichen.


© Tim Messick 2015. All rights reserved.

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