Observation 44436: Cladonia coccifera (L.) Willd.

Looks just like a slightly pruinose C. pyxidata, but the K+y reaction makes it C. magyarica, I think, although this is another species not recorded for the park. (Although I would have expected it here at high elevation.) This was along side the trail above 6000’.

Update 20100517: I sent this specimen to James Lendemer, and he determined it to be C. coccifera. “A rare arctic-alpine lichen” according to Ernie Brodo, but “widespread in boreal-alpine regions” according to Hinds & Hinds. It has, in fact, been recorded for the park before. It is distinguished by usnic acid (I stopped at K+y without testing KC), red pycnidia and/or apothecia (I thought the pycnidia were brown, goes to show you’ve got to be very careful) and soft-corticate granules at the top of the podetia and in the cups. According to Hinds & Hinds, it is impossible to reliably separate C. coccifera from C. borealis without TLC: C. coccifera has zeroin (K+y), C. borealis has barbatic acid (also K+y), and the former is more granular, wider, and forms tiny needle-like crystals in old herbarium specimens. This specimen was found at the very top of Mt Leconte at somewhat over 6000’ in the Smokies, presumably a refugium from the last ice age.

[admin – Sat Aug 14 02:03:12 +0000 2010]: Changed location name from ‘Mt Leconte, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee, USA’ to ‘Mount Leconte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA


note K+y test
typical tiny corticate “pillows” filling cups

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Used references: det: James Lendemer, specimen at NY

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Created: 2010-04-19 14:26:50 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2010-09-04 13:17:27 PDT (-0700)
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