Species of the Month - February 2017

Black-eyed Susan

Bunodophoron melanocarpum

This is 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.

Bunodophoron melanocarpum   Bunodophoron melanocarpum

This is how it appears from above.  Flattened shoots which branch in one plane, often clothed in dense clusters of much smaller coral-like branches.

Bunodophoron melanocarpum

This 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.

Bunodophorum melanocarpum   Bunodophorum melanocarpum, apothecia

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.

The only 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.

Bunodophoron melanocarpum

Black-eyed Susan growing on rock in Glen Crean woods

Bunodophoron melanocarpum

On birch 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 are: Alan Silverside, Irish Lichens, Plantlife

Bunodophoron melanocarpum

Please send in
your Black-eyed Susan 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 
Grid reference 
Host tree or other surface  
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
LNHG Biological Records Manager


Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here are the previous February species:

Feb 2016 - Dotted Border
Feb 2014 - Pale Brindled Beauty
Feb 2013 - Coral Lungwort
Feb 2012 - Barren Strawberry

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This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  Some photos on this page are copyright Jan Hamilton.  Mouse over photos to see credits.