Public Description of Niebla homalea (Ach.) Rundel & Bowler

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Name: Niebla homalea (Ach.) Rundel & Bowler
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Description status: Approved
 (Latest review: 2010-04-11 06:55:05 PDT (-0700) by nathan)

Taxonomic Classification:

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota
Class: Lecanoromycetes
Order: Lecanorales
Family: Ramalinaceae

General Description:

Common Name: Armored Sea-Fog Lichen

Common shrubby fruticose lichen on rocks on bluffs and cliffs overlooking sea. Branches have a distinctive angular appearance making it look like it’s covered with plates of armor. It is a highly-variable species, in size, amount of branching, number of apothecia, amount of cracking, and even chemistry.

Diagnostic Description:

The technical character most important in separating this species from other Niebla spp. is the presence of chondroid strands in the medulla. These are visible, even with a hand lans in the field, by cutting a thick branch cross-wise: the strands appear as irregular to rounded thickenings in the otherwise white-cottony (though still very dense) medulla. (See image 24098.)


Throughout coastal California and Baja Caifornia. I’ve found it thriving as far north as Point Navarro, in Mendocino County, and expect it can be found farther north as well.


Rocks along immediate coast on bluffs and cliffs. Also found in sand or soil on the islands of southern and Baja California, as well as the mainland in central Baja California. (Note, soil populations have a somewhat different morphology, turning into tumbleweed-like things apparently.)

Look Alikes:

Since this and other species of Niebla are often rather variable, there are a number of look-alikes that are tricky to separate.

N. josecuervoi from Baja California is most difficult. See Nash’s Sonoran Flora for an exhaustive discussion of these two nearly-identical species.

N. laevigata is shinier, smoother, flatter, and lacks chondroid strands in the medulla. The two often occur together and share a similarly broad range into northern California.

N. isidiascens is conspicuously isidiate with coralloid isidia.

N. combeoides often also has an angular appearance, however the branches are generally much shorter and stubbier, and never as flattened. It typically forms little “bouquets” with clumps of strictly terminal apothecia, while N. homalea has less frequent and often marginal apothecia.

N. polymorpha is supposedly more irregular, but in particular lacks the chondroid strands of N. homalea.

N. robusta is inflated and spongy.

The rest are obviously different, mostly with rounded branches, among other differences.

Description author: Jason Hollinger (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editor: Nathan Wilson

Created: 2008-10-21 10:42:04 PDT (-0700) by Jason Hollinger (jason)
Last modified: 2010-04-11 06:55:05 PDT (-0700) by Nathan Wilson (nathan)
Viewed: 48 times, last viewed: 2019-10-28 19:28:02 PDT (-0700)