Species of the Month - February 2013

Coral Lungwort

Lobaria amplissima

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.

Lobaria amplissima

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.

Lobaria amplissima

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.

Lobaria amplissima   Lobaria amplissima

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.

Please send in your Lobaria amplissima sightings using the form below.  If you are not sure of the identity of your lichen, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LORN forum and let me know it is there.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Host tree species 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g amount, habitat   


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
G Biological Records Manager


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 Jelly Button
Dec 2012 - Dice Lichen
Nov 2012 - Feathered Thorn
Oct 2012 - Dryad's Saddle
Sep 2012 - Tawny Grisette
Aug 2012 - Forest Bug
Jul 2012 - Grayling
Jun 2012 - Greater and Lesser Butterfly Orchids
May 2012 - Small Copper
Apr 2012 - Green Tiger Beetle
Mar 2012 - March Moth
Feb 2012 - Barren Strawberry
Jan 2012 - Brambling
Dec 2011 - Red Squirrel
Nov 2011 - Hazel Gloves
Oct 2011 - Small Tortoiseshell
Sep 2011 - Fly Agaric
Aug 2011 - Grass of Parnassus
Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird
May 2011 - Green Hairstreak
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

Mar 2011 - Frogspawn

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated