Greenish-yellow Rhizoplaca with large apothecia ranging from bluish black in exposed apothecia, with apothecia tucked under margins becoming very light green and pruinose. Bluish-black coloration of thallus in a few places along margins. Spores ovoid, hyaline, 2 measured: 10.7 × 6.7 um; 11.4 × 6.9 um.

On sandstone outcrops at summit of McKinley Mountain, abundant.


Proposed Names

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Used references: Nash 2007
Based on microscopic features

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Add Comment
It was just a guess
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2021-01-11 21:34:52 PST (-0800)

I just remember Letharia being especially abundant on the ridge west of Pine/Reyes Mountain about 30 miles east of this spot. Since the trees were like the Sierra Nevada, maybe the lichens were, too…

I’m kicking myself
By: Skullroy (
2021-01-11 21:17:30 PST (-0800)

…for not looking more (or not remembering if I saw any), but I don’t recall seeing any Letharia! I looked through my trip photos and it definitely isn’t blanketing the trees or anything. I’ll be on the lookout during my next visit!

By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2021-01-11 14:47:51 PST (-0800)

I love these neat disjunct species associations! So cool that (at least some of) the lichens of the association are coming along for the ride, not just the trees. :) Ooh, is Letharia especially abundant there, too? That’s definitely the quintessential Sierra Nevada indicator lichen!

Super interesting…
By: Skullroy (
2021-01-11 14:25:34 PST (-0800)

…and very much of interest to me! This area is really cool – a part of Santa Barbara County that kind of feels like the Sierra Nevada (sugar pine, yellow pine, white fir, incense cedar forest) in some places, until you realize you can see the channel islands on a clear day! The plant community at the immediate location where this was collected was more like chaparral, maybe because it’s just so exposed or possibly also due to fire history.

When I asked Jason D. last week if he had seen this species, he said he had not, which is a pretty strong indication that it’s not common in SLO County, at least in his normal stomping grounds, and McKinley Mountain is higher than anywhere in SLO county.

Shouldn’t be elevation
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2021-01-11 13:50:12 PST (-0800)

It’s abundant at all elevations in the Great Basin… oh right, even the valleys are over 4000 feet! Is it in Death Valley, there’s the question?

But where I was headed is that I wonder if coastal mountain tops more closely resemble semi-continental climates than the foggy coastal lowlands? Sort of an alternate form of the latitude-elevation relationship: going up in elevation is equivalent to moving north. Well, maybe going up in elevation also moves you at least subtly inland at the same time?

Do also bear in mind that there are many cryptic species in this complex.

Interesting, CNALH shows a whole mess of records in the transverse ranges, but not the coastal ranges north of SB. Weird! No matter I look at it, this seems like an interesting distribution pattern.

It might be common…
By: Skullroy (
2021-01-11 13:18:06 PST (-0800)

at higher elevations? This was from one of the highest peaks in Santa Barbara Co. At that spot it was abundant. I haven’t seen it elsewhere at lower elevations. Thanks!

This looks right to me
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2021-01-11 12:39:17 PST (-0800)

Is this not a common species in the area? With apothecia that color, the only other (remote) option would be R. peltata (now in Protoparmeliopsis), but at this age, I would expect all of the apothecia still to be innate if it were that species.