Species of the Month - February 2013
This lichen doesn't seem to have an English name, so I've invented one. It's the least common of the four Lobaria species, the others being L pulmonaria (Tree Lungwort), L virens and L scrobiculata, all of which we've seen frequently on our walks. L amplissima is fairly common in the west of Scotland but rare elsewhere. In my experience it is usually found on Ash, so it may be drastically affected by the spread of Ash dieback disease. It also occurs on Sycamore, Rowan, Hazel, Oak and other alkaline-barked trees. It prefers more light than the other 3 Lobaria species, and is often found on trees outside of woodland, e.g. along roadsides or field edges.
The first two photos are kindly supplied by lnhg member Jan Hamilton. More of her work can be seen at Cuil Creations.
The lichen is a pale creamy grey when dry, and green when wet. It has a similar habit to L virens, forming large patches with a smooth texture, wrinkled in places. Its unique feature is the dark brown coral-like outgrowths scattered over its surface. These contain a cyanobacterium which fixes nitrogen from the air for the lichen to use. The main body of the lichen contains a green alga which provides the lichen with carbon.
L amplissima occupies the right-hand half of the above photo, with L virens on the left. L virens retains more of its green colour when dry than L amplissima does. On the far right you can see the finely incised lobes that characterise L amplissima. L virens is more coarsely lobed, also visible here.
The left-hand photo above shows the green colour of L amplissima when wet. The lichen surrounding it is Nephroma parile. The right-hand pic shows fertile L amplissima with "cups" or apothecia. The cephalodia are also present. In the lower left the lichen is discoloured by the parasitisic fungus Nectriopsis lecanodes.
L amplissima can occur without cephalodia but is then harder to recognise. Any good-sized patch of it will normally have cephalodia and then it is unmistakable.
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Note you can still send in records for past species of the month. Here is the list of species we've had so far:
Jan 2013 - Willow Jelly Button & Birch