Observation 131638: Lecanora conizaeoides Nyl. ex Crombie

When: 2013-04-10

Collection location: West Seattle, King Co., Washington, USA [Click for map]

Who: Richard Droker (wanderflechten)

No specimen available

The OSU project mentions that L. conizaeoides “appears to have colonized a significant area in western Oregon and Washington” and “is now known from numerous sites in Seattle” including 1 telephone pole. In West Seattle I find it on a great number, perhaps hundreds, of old creosoted power poles, which are now being replaced. Should I be pleased or begin a “save the poles” campaign?

According to Oliver Gilbert (2000) “This species increases in abundance as towns are approached and where the last sensitive [to air pollution] lichen disappears, usually in the outer suburbs, it reaches its maximum cover, coloring tree boles from top to bottom with a thick, grey-green crust. It has never been satisfactorily determined whether it has a requirement for SO2 or is responding to the lack of competition…
The species has an interesting history. The earliest British specimen is a collection made by the Rev. Bloxam from a fir tree at Twycross in Leicestershire around 1861; by 1870 it had been recorded from Buxton, Manchester, London and Hampshire, spreading rapidly with the rise in background air pollution as the Industrial Revolution gathered pace. It is probably an introduced species whose natural habitat, near sulphur springs in Iceland, preadapted it for a rapid invasion of coal and oil-burning areas.” (my bold)
In The Lichen Hunters Gilbert (2004) comments “Lizard Point is a sordid place. A row of little shacks extends from the village to the sea… Some have Lecanora conizaeoides growing on them, which just about sums the place up.”

As an alternative to sulfur springs in Iceland La Greca & Stutzman mention “Wirth’s (1985) [paper in German] conclusion that the original habitat of L. conizaeoides must have been Pinus mugo bogs in central Europe”.


less hydrated, this image from a different power pole in the same area
less hydrated, this image from a different power pole in the same area
less hydrated, this image from a different power pole in the same area

Proposed Names

83% (1)
Eye3 Eyes3
Recognized by sight: worked up microscopic and chemical features on previously collected specimens
Used references: B. Edwards, A. AptroSmith, C.W., Aptroot, D.L. Hawksworth & P.W. James in Smith, C.W., Aptroot, A., Coppins, B.J., Fletcher, A., Gilbert, O.L., James, P.W. and Wolseley, P.A. (2009) The Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland; LaGreca S. 2006 Distribution and ecology of Lecanora conizaeoides (Lecanoraceae) in western Massachusetts. The Bryologist 109: 335-347; OSU project http://lichens.science.oregonstate.edu/invasion.htm (last updated: 1998)

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Eye3 = Observer’s choice
Eyes3 = Current consensus


Add Comment
SO2 from ships?
By: Richard Droker (wanderflechten)
2013-04-19 19:11:09 CDT (-0400)

Probably not a good sign. How common L. conizaeoides is in the Pacific Northwest isn’t really known. It is not a lichen that would be noticed by many people around here. It does seem quite abundant where I live in West Seattle. Looking through my old specimens, today I notice that fertile L. conizaeoides is fairly common on trees here although old power poles appear to be its favored habitat. I would think that air in my area near Puget Sound in West Seattle would less polluted than the rest of the city. Possibly SO2 from the many ships that pass by is responsible. See – http://www.flad.pt/documentos/1227109470G4fJQ9kv7Mi01DK7.pdf

once very common in the UK, now endangered
By: else
2013-04-18 14:03:00 CDT (-0400)

in the seventies this was the most common lichen in town in the Netherlands -
and apparently the same thing in the UK, where it now has been proposed for the Red Data list, as its habitat and the conditions under which it thrives are now rare.

just wondering what made it become so common in the PNW, and whether that is a good sign or not.

not unusual…
By: Richard Droker (wanderflechten)
2013-04-18 10:20:24 CDT (-0400)

L. conizaeoides on old power poles in West Seattle is fertile in part almost always, although my photos were framed to show particularly good examples of this. There are also large areas which are infertile.

I’ve noticed infertile L. conizaeoides on some Douglas Fir bark in Lincoln Park. As it doesn’t call attention to itself this lichen may be more common there then has been apparent to me.

I’ve added 3 photos of L. conizaeoides in a less hydrated state.

Thanks for posting this
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2013-04-12 21:35:52 CDT (-0400)

Have wondered what this looks like. Are they always fertile, or is this an unusual specimen?

Created: 2013-04-10 11:00:06 CDT (-0400)
Last modified: 2013-04-10 16:23:16 CDT (-0400)
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