Species of the Month - February 2015

Tree Lungwort

Lobaria pulmonaria

This lichen is easy to find and easy to recognise.  It is large, green, and covered with a network of ridges.  It is found on trees with alkaline bark, such as hazel, willow, ash, sycamore, mature oaks and beech.  It also sometimes grows on rocks in shady humid places.  It is only attached at the point of origin, and has little contact with the bark or rock as it spreads out or hangs down over it.

Lobaria pulmonaria, fertile

This one has red-brown apothecia or "fruits" which release spores to enable it to reproduce.  It also has small bobbles called isidia along some of the ridges.  These break off to enable vegetative reproduction.  Often these are present without the apothecia; sometimes both are absent.  Sometimes the isidia are replaced by powdery soredia.

  Lobaria scrobiculata

In this photo L pulmonaria is at the top and there is also a small piece right of centre.  Left of centre is another Lobaria species, L virens, which does not have the network of ridges and is closely appressed to the bark.  The grey-blue one in the lower half is L scrobiculata.  The fourth of Scotland's Lobaria species, L amplissima, was our Feb 2013 Species of the Month.

Tree Lungwort is only common in the west of Scotland and has disappeared from many other parts of Britain due to pollution.  Its abundance in our area is a sign that pollution has been minimal here.  Long may this continue.  There are still populations in many other parts of the country but they are much more restricted in habitat than they are here, and rarely fertile.

This lichen is on the Scottish Biodiversity List, meaning that it is "of principal importance for biodiversity conservation in Scotland."  Public bodies have a duty to take into account the conservation needs of such species.  As part of our agreement with SNH, LNHG is committed to raising awareness of the Scottish Biodiversity List and the species on it, so future Species of the Month will often be from this list.

Lobaria pulmonaria   Tremella lobariacearum

As well as having three methods of reproduction (apothecia, isidia and soredia) and containing two photobionts (a green alga and a cyanobacterium), Tree Lungwort is host to a large number of fungi, which are obviously just as vulnerable to pollution or habitat loss as the lichen itself, since they can't exist without it.  One of these, Tremella lobariacearum, forms the pink blobs in Jan's photo, above right, from our recent North Creagan field trip.  Most of the others require specialist skills to identify but you will find all kinds of suspicious discolorations and deformations on L pulmonaria which may be due to one of these fungal epiphytes.

Lobaria pulmonaria

When it dries out, Tree Lungwort turns this pale grey-green colour.  This photo also shows some bits of the underside which is whitish, with bulges corresponding to the depressions between the ridges on the topside.


Please send in your Tree Lungwort sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  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 LNHG Facebook page.

Date of sighting 
Host tree if known (fallen leaves can help identify)  
Grid reference 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details   


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
LNHG Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

5 Feb: Seen by Judith Witts on Sycamore at Drimfern, Glen Aray

14 Feb: Plentiful on our North Shian field trip, mostly on Oak, Willow and Hazel.

16 Feb: Seen by Sallie in Salachan Glen

27 Feb: Seen by Cynthia in Glencoe

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 2015 - Flute Lichen
Dec 2014 - Giant Willow Aphid
Nov 2014 - Golden Spindles
Oct 2014 - Crimson Waxcap
Sep 2014 - Four-spotted Orb Weaver

Aug 2014 - Pale Butterwort
Jul 2014 - Melancholy Thistle
Jun 2014 - Forester Moth
May 2014 - Large Red Damselfly

Apr 2014 - Hedgehog
Mar 2014 - Hairy Bittercress
Feb 2014 - Pale Brindled Beauty
Jan 2014 - Velvet Shank
Dec 2013 - Frilly-fruited Jelly Lichen
Nov 2013 - Whooper Swan
Oct 2013 - Ballerina Waxcap
Sep 2013 - Parrot Waxcap
Aug 2013 - Vapourer Moth

Jul 2013 - Emerald Damselfly
Jun 2013 - Globe Flower
May 2013 - Early Purple Orchid
Apr 2013 - Peacock Butterfly
Mar 2013 - Oak Beauty
Feb 2013 - Coral Lungwort

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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This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  The first, second and fourth photos are Jan Hamilton and the third is Cynthia Grindley.