Observation 64833: Sticta Ach.

When: 2011-03-26

Collection location: Sintra, Portugal [Click for map]

Who: zaca

No specimen available

Very interesting lichen. The form of the lobes is similar to that of Peltigera. However, I was not able to find a species with such tomentose upper surfaces of lobes, although a description I read of P. praetextata mention that possibility. In addition, the are no fruting bodies, but it seems that that the margins are enlarged in the vertical sense (where some red to violet color is visible) to develop some in the future.


2nd Observation: 3/4/2011 – 1
2nd Observation: 3/4/2011 – 2
2nd Observation: 3/4/2011 – 3 – underside of lobes
2nd Observation: 3/4/2011 – 4 – margin of lobe
2nd Observation: 3/4/2011 – 5 – margin of lobe
2nd Observation: 3/4/2011 – 6 – chemical reactions

Proposed Names

3% (2)
Recognized by sight
-56% (1)
Recognized by sight
28% (1)
Recognized by sight

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Eye3 = Observer’s choice
Eyes3 = Current consensus


Add Comment
Thanks, Jason, for recommendations …
By: zaca
2011-04-10 21:45:22 CEST (+0200)

… about the preservation of specimens.
About this specimen in particular, I do not know anyone who can analyze, in fact I know of no lichenologist. Perchance, you have relations with someone who could do it?

collecting lichens
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2011-04-10 17:13:14 CEST (+0200)

Yes, it’s best to dry lichens. Fortunately, unlike with mushrooms, just setting them out on the table or in a paper packet is generally sufficient unless you live in a very humid area.

In North America lichenologists fold a standard 8.5 × 11″ paper (acid free preferably) into thirds, and fold the sides in about an inch (easier seen than described). The result is a little index card-sized packet with a flap in front on which details are written (collector, location, date, id, habitat, lat/long/elev, collector’s specimen number, etc.) This is a convenient size for shoe boxes or other shallow boxes. Delicate specimens (especially crusts growing on loose soil) can be glued onto index cards and/or packed with tissue paper or that synthetic ’batting" used in quilting (cotton tends to stick to the lichen and make a mess).

(In Europe I’ve heard that many herbaria still press lichens flat onto herbarium sheets, just as for plants. I can’t confirm or deny this.)

For long term storage, ideally you would cycle specimens through a deep freezer for a few days to a week (kills insects and eggs), then store them in at least 30% or lower humidity. Cyanolichens (such as Sticta) tend to degrade more rapidly at high humidity. You’ll first notice it first as pale gray specimens start turning yellow-brown. Such specimens are useless for DNA extraction, apparently.

next step… specimen collected
By: zaca
2011-04-05 18:48:48 CEST (+0200)

In my last observation I collected a piece of the specimen. For the time being I preserved it in a box on the fridge, but maybe it is better to dry it. Isn’t it?
Thanks, Jason.

next step
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2011-04-05 15:21:35 CEST (+0200)

I’m trying to get out the door for a week in Florida to study lichens in the field (yay!) So this will be short and to the point: I also have very limited experience, especially with Portuguese lichens!! We are clearly at the point where the best recourse is to collect a specimen and send it to a professional. Local would be best (just to avoid treading on other people’s turf and stirring political waters as much as anything), but any European lichenologist should be happy to receive interesting material. Now just need to find a name and email address…


At this point, something must be said …
By: zaca
2011-04-05 00:51:05 CEST (+0200)

For a beginner like me, this is the best I can hope: to find people helping to guide, give opinion, and share doubts with other unknown people that bring to MO their findings. So, my gratitude to Jason and Chris, not just with this particular observation but in the all the other observations I made and posted here at MO.
My knowledge about lichens is very limited, but cases like these give me renewed strength to try to give a little contribution to the knowledge of the lichens in my homeland, where I feel that most of the work is still to be done.

P.S:: Very nice work Chris bring to my knowledge in his last message about “Sticta in North America”.

3a vs. 3b
By: Chris Parrish (kitparrish)
2011-04-04 22:12:57 CEST (+0200)

I ended up thinking that all-in-all 3a seemed to be a better match for your observation and 3b seemed to be a better match for some of Jason’s photos of Sticta fuliginosa, but you are quite right that there is a certain tension here between the power of words and the power of images to represent these very sophisticated patterns we find in nature. One of the great strengths of MO is to allow us to build up over time better and clearer representations. For instance, here is a presentation of Sticta in North America illustrated by MO contributions collected just over the last few years.

Thank you for a fascinating case study, zaca!

No cents left … to follow the key!
By: zaca
2011-04-04 20:24:33 CEST (+0200)

No cents left … to follow the key!

Observation MO46871:
Maybe Jason remembers that my first lichen posted in MO was a Sticta: MO46871 (see also MO47168). The photographs I took at the time are not good, but are enough to show that we are considering a very close and related species. The places of the two observations are separated by 1.5 Km, more or less. Maybe, it is the same species again.

RE: my last 2 Cents …
Following the above remark, I remember that at the time of that first observation of a Sticta, Jason pointed to S. fuliginosa and my opinion was towards S. dufourii (or dufourei?). Now, it is even more difficult to choose.

RE: James and Purvis key
Thanks, Chris, for your help. But, as in many other keys, the problem is: HOW TO CHOOSE. For me it is not clear to separate 3a from 3b. What is your opinion?
I will give mine: I don’t see a margin +/- smooth nor isidia +/- cylindrical, so I’ll stay in 3a (=S. dufourii).

James and Purvis
By: Chris Parrish (kitparrish)
2011-04-04 04:12:47 CEST (+0200)

The treatment of Sticta by James and Purvis in Smith et al. “Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland” has discussions and a key to four of the five species of Sticta listed below from the Azores. It lacks weigelii, but includes dufourii as the cyanomorph of canariensis. Here is the essence of their key as it relates to this observation:

1. green … canariensis s. str.
2. sorediate … limbata
3a. “margin dissected, fringed with +/- flattened isidia or follicles which also occur on upper surface” … canariensis (dufourii photomorph)
3b. "margin +/- smooth; isidia +/- cylindrical in coralloid clusters on surface and margin … 4
4a. “thallus distinctly multi-lobed and branched into lobes; isidia in groups” …sylvatica
4b. “thallus +/- single-lobed or slightly indented; isidia evenly distributed” … fuliginosa

my last 2 cents…
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2011-04-04 03:34:22 CEST (+0200)

re: lack of literature

You’re probably right. Makes it all the more exciting! Still, this Bungartz & Martínez 2003 paper will probably at least give us the state-of-the-art. That’s worthwhile having. A good description and/or key to the known species will also help us remove doubt about whether this specimen “fits” or not. I think it’s way cool that you have a green Sticta over there (at least in the Azores). I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are a few more-subtle novelties hidden in the woods, as well.

re: S. dufourii

Certainly worth considering…

(Holy moly, it’s the cyanomorph of the green jobby. I wonder how common it is, what conditions it grows in versus the chloromorph, etc. Our North American green one, S. arctica, only very rarely and in very specific circumstances manifests as a cyanomorph…)

… but notice (on the Irish site, for example) the mottled coloration and the perfectly smooth, shiny, glabrous upper surface (at least where not covered with phyllidia). This still strikes me as closer to S. fuliginosa, which has the same blackish, bumpy, evenly-colored surface. See observation 62261 — no good shots of the underside there (I have photos from other specimens, though, which are identical to yours), but look at the bristly hairs around the margin on this image:

Yours seems to have unusually “blobby” isidia, verging on phyllidia perhaps. And yours looks to have more conspicuous hairs on the upper surface, at least in the earlier photos. But I could be convinced that they’re the same species.

Dear Chris,
By: zaca
2011-04-03 23:45:03 CEST (+0200)

I would not be so confident about the results of a literature search. I do not know the work to which you refer, and therefore can go wrong because of lack of knowledge, but I have some doubts about its usefulness. Let me give you an example: you have already mentioned, concerning the species Leptochidium albociliatum, that it appears in lichens of Portugal. With regard to genus Sticta there appear only two species (S. limbata and S. sylvatica), but as you know the Azores islands belong to Portugal and consulting the website biodiversity azores there we find five species of the genus Sticta (S. canariensis, S. fuliginosa, S. limbata, S. sylvatica, S. weigelii). All this to say that there is no reliable data about my country.

Sticta references
By: Chris Parrish (kitparrish)
2011-04-03 22:56:48 CEST (+0200)

A search of RLL for “Sticta” and “Portugal” produces a list of references that might be helpful. Would be nice to see Burgaz and Martínez, 2003.

By: zaca
2011-04-03 20:10:07 CEST (+0200)

The short description given in irish lichens and, moreover, the photograph in
Stridvall’s (by magnifying, where one can see the underside of lobes)
show that S. dufourii is a good candidate. However, according the first of these references, the chemical reactions are negative.

You’ve convinced me
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2011-04-03 19:04:27 CEST (+0200)

No question those are true cyphellae, a feature which only occurs in Sticta. These new photos most closely resemble S. fuliginosa, but certainly would represent an extreme of morphological variation which I’ve never seen anywhere in North America.

I’m baffled by the gelatinous appearance of the wet thallus in your first spot-test photo. This observation expands my horizons in a number of ways.

Thanks for sticking with this. We should try to find some literature on the non-North American species of Sticta listed in the checklist Chris found. Maybe one of those matches more comfortably?

(my apologies for doubting your K+r reaction, you’ve documented it well now, tricky one to read)

I think we have to consider Sticta again …
By: zaca
2011-04-03 18:44:38 CEST (+0200)

I uploaded already a new set of photographs of the new observation of this specimen.
Given the proliferation of holes on the underside of lobes, some of which with about .5 mm in diameter, I think we should consider again the genus Sticta.

Thanks Chris
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2011-03-30 15:20:55 CEST (+0200)

Totally forgot about Leptochidium. It’s the most likely candidate on the checklist you linked below. None of the “felt lichens” (Lobaria, Nephroma, Sticta, Pseudocyphellaria, _Peltigera, Degelia) listed are close. Doesn’t mean this isn’t something novel, though! So I can’t wait to see more photos. :)

(PS. I try not to second guess spot test diagnoses from photos, since they are so much more obvious in person. But unless you saw a whole lot more than we’re seeing in the photos, I would have concluded that those two tests were both negative. Note that many lichens change color just when wetted with water, and can easily be misdiagnosed as yellowish or brownish or greenish. Lord knows, I’ve made the mistake more times than I care to admit. James Lendemer corrects my spot test diagnoses even now on a regular basis. Heh, a recent comment was “I don’t think your UV light works.” :)

As I said before …
By: zaca
2011-03-29 15:57:16 CEST (+0200)

In a forthcoming opportunity I will collect a piece of that specimen and I will try to take better photos and, perhaps then, something can be added.
Thanks again, Chris.

the lower cortex
By: Chris Parrish (kitparrish)
2011-03-29 15:05:26 CEST (+0200)

certainly does look white in your photos. I suppose a definitive test would be to make a section through the thallus and see if there is a whitish medulla inside.

Thanks, Chris.
By: zaca
2011-03-29 14:12:25 CEST (+0200)

I saw the photos you mention. What I am able to see from the underside are the abundant fasciculate rhizines and not the proper surface. That is described in the Leptochidium albociliatum page of CNALH as concolor with the upper surface (dark greenish black). But in my specimen the under surface is whitish, as can be seen from the attached photo.

more photos
By: Chris Parrish (kitparrish)
2011-03-29 13:33:29 CEST (+0200)

Photos by Sharnoff show the underside of Leptochidium albociliatum. They also appear on the Leptochidium albociliatum page of CNALH. I wondered about the range, but this species is on the list of the lichens of Portugal.

Visually …
By: zaca
2011-03-29 11:26:38 CEST (+0200)

Leptochidium albociliatum in “stridvall’s” is, perhaps, the most similar species to my speciemen. However, a closer look shows that in this species the underside of lobes is concolor with the upper face, thus clearly distint from my specimen. In addition, I was not able to see any rhizine there.
Thanks, Chris, for your interest.

By: Chris Parrish (kitparrish)
2011-03-29 10:03:55 CEST (+0200)

Did you take a look at Stridvall’s photos of Leptochidium? Brodo mentions that the stiff white hairs along the lobe margins of Leptochidium distinguish it from the species of Leptogium which also have fuzzy white undersides. He also mentions that Leptochidium has a distinct algal layer and medulla, which would be fun to see. CNALH is quite clear about the chemistry of Leptogium: Spot tests: all negative Secondary metabolites: none detected … and the same is true of Leptochidium according to Brodo.

Thanks, Jason and Chris!
By: zaca
2011-03-29 08:36:42 CEST (+0200)

I had seen the photos from Azores and, in particular, that species had no rhizines.
I agree that it must be a gel lichen, as it seems looking to the places near the chemical reactions in the last photo uploaded. But, then, what about chemical reactions negative for Leptogium?.

Okay, not Sticta, then!
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2011-03-29 03:22:52 CEST (+0200)

There’s a South American Pseudocyphellaria that’s sort of like this (P. hirsuta), but it would be a major range extension. :) It seems mine is the only on-line photo of Leptogium hirsutum, so no new (or reliable!) info there. What’s left to consider? Degelia? Erioderma? Do any Nephroma grow that much hair?

Edit: Hold on! I was so short on time I didn’t look at a full-size version of the most recent photo. It clearly shows that this is a gel lichen — either Leptogium or Collema. I know of no Collema with hair. So I’m back to L. hirsutum until proven otherwise.

photos of Sticta weigelii
By: Chris Parrish (kitparrish)
2011-03-29 02:28:52 CEST (+0200)

Here are three fine photos of Sticta weigelii by Felix Schumm from the Azores. Click on the tiny photos for higher resolution versions.

Could well be…
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2011-03-29 01:11:09 CEST (+0200)

I have vague memory of Sticta weigelii being hairy. A good clear photo of the underside will help a great deal. Yes, I think no Leptogium has chemistry detectable with spot tests. Again, I have vague memory of S. weigelii having a good spot test. I have to go, I’ll look at my paper when I get back.

By: zaca
2011-03-29 00:41:06 CEST (+0200)

It seems that I was wrong about the genus of this specimen. Concerning the hypotheses you gave, Sticta and Leptogium hirsutum, Iet me say that the first one is, in my opinion, more consistent than the second as I will try to explain below:
- I looked to #59590 and I could not find other similarities beyond that the two lichens are tomentose;
- You were able to find a hole underneath in the last picture and I found another in other photo I have, but that is even worst than the one I uploaded;
- On the other hand, I have performed in situ the chemical tests and there is a K+ reaction (on the top left) and a KC+ gold reaction (on the bottom left), as you can see in the photo that I now upload. This rules out Leptogium hirsutum as well as others Leptogium sp., since I was not able to find one with such reaction, in most of them the chemical reactions are negative.

In a forthcoming opportunity I will collect a piece of that specimen and I will try to take better photos and, perhaps then, something can be added.

Thanks, Jason, for your contribution and I hope you will comment on my opinion.

By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2011-03-28 02:20:02 CEST (+0200)

I agree that this is not Peltigera. The critical feature for that genus is veins, and the “tomentum” (if there is any is very minute, short, fine erect hairs along the veins and rhizines. This has thick long tufted “tomentum”, no veins, and no rhizines. (I put “tomentum” in quotes because botanists use the term tomentum very differently to mean woolly, tangled hairs.)

I’d start with Sticta and Leptogium hirsutum (see observation 59590). A few things you can check to help:

Sticta has small, sharply-delineated, round holes in the tomentum on the underside (see image 83617); Leptogium is uniformly tomentose

Sticta is stratified: if you scratch the cortex off the top, you’ll see a layer of white medulla and green algae inside; Leptogium is essentially uniformly gray because the algae are distributed throughout (and its cortex is minimal)

You might be able to see a hole in the last photo, but it’s not clear enough.

Created: 2011-03-28 01:00:38 CEST (+0200)
Last modified: 2011-04-03 18:59:00 CEST (+0200)
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