Species of the Month - February 2017
one of the many specialist lichens that thrive here in the west of
Scotland but are rare elsewhere in Britain. Even here in its
heartland it is not at all common. A good place to see it is
Glen Nant National Nature Reserve where it is quite plentiful. It
has many other sites in our area, typically in humid ancient woodland,
where it will grow on tree trunks or on mossy rocks.
how it appears from above. Flattened shoots which branch in
one plane, often clothed in dense clusters of much smaller coral-like
is the view from below, showing how it gets the name Black-eyed
Susan. The black spore masses are on the underside of protective
hoods at the ends of the main branches. Jan's photo is taken
looking up the trunk of an oak tree at Glen Nant.
A closer view of the top side and underside. This one is growing on birch in a wood at Port Appin, photographed by Jan on LNHG's January 2014 field trip.
species it could be confused with is the common Sphaerophorus globosus,
but that has its branches round in cross-section, not flattened, and
they are often brown. Also the fertile branch-ends containing the
black spore-masses are
ball-shaped in that species.
Black-eyed Susan growing on rock in Glen Crean woods
at Sutherland's Grove on our Jan 2013 field trip, photo by Jan.
Frank Dobson's Lichens book (2005 edition) says it is "very rarely
fertile in Britain", and sure enough most web photos from places outside
west Scotland show it without any fruitbodies. It is commonly
fertile in our area however. Other good sites about this lichen
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