Observation 31897: Heterodermia appalachensis (Kurok.) Culb.

Locality: 29°15’7.40"N, 103°17’50.60"W, el. 1645-2120 m

Substrate and habitat: Growing through and over a terrestrial patch of moss in an open woodland of piñon, juniper, and oak.

Identification: Two species of Heterodermia with long, strap-like lobes and dramatic cilia are reported from the park: appalachensis and leucomela. Brodo (2001, p.548) distinguishes them as follows:
appalachensis (pale sulphur yellow below, PD-, K+ yellow),
leucomela (white below, PD+ yellow, K+ yellow changing to red).

The thallus undersides are hardly visible in these photos, and in the national parks you are not meant to drop chemicals on the plants. Wetmore (1976) reports appalachensis from Boot Canyon, Emory Peak, and the East Rim. For leucomela, he cites only specimens from the South Rim trail collected by Anderson and Shushan (but note that Wetmore’s key requires leucomela to be non-sorediate, which is not at all the case according to Brodo and Lendemer).

Nash, (vol. 1, pp.207-219) makes similar remarks about the color of the thallus undersurface in these two species and then mentions an additional character:
appalachensis (soredia in soralia on the underside of the lobe tips, bending the tips upwards and thus appearing labriform)
leucomela (lobe tips flat, soralia more diffuse on lower surface).

On this score, the choice is clear: these photos match Nash’s description of appalachensis.

We take all this as enough encouragement to file these photos under Heterodermia appalachensis, at least until someone gets to take a look at the thallus undersurface.

Reference: Lendemer, A synopsis of the lichen genus Heterodermia (Physciaceae, lichenized Ascomycota) in eastern North America, Opuscula Philolichenum, 6: 1-36. 2009.

Common name: Appalachian fringe lichen

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Used references: Brodo, Sharnoff, and Sharnoff, 2001, pp.334-341 and 548; Wetmore, 1976, p.304; Lendemer, 2009

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Created: 2010-01-12 16:46:15 CST (-0500)
Last modified: 2010-04-06 22:43:53 CDT (-0400)
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