Species of the Month - January 2015

Flute Lichen

Menegazzia terebrata

The Flute Lichen is easy to recognise with its hollow or inflated thallus perforated with holes (like a flute).  The other two species with a hollow thallus are Hypogymnia tubulosa and H physodes.  They have larger lobes than the Flute Lichen and do not have holes.  They are both much commoner than the Flute Lichen and one or other of them will often occur with it.

Menegazzia terebrata

The Flute Lichen normally occurs in damp shady woods on acid-barked trees such as Birch, Alder and young to middle-aged Oak (older Oaks are more alkaline).  It is important to record it where it occurs as it's an indicator of ancient woodland.  We are all familiar with the many ancient woodland indicators that occur in our area on Hazels and other alkaline-barked trees, but in birchwoods there are not so many and this perhaps the easiest one to look out for.

Menegazzia terebrata


Menegazzia terebrata

Apothecia or "fruits" are very rare on this lichen and I have never seen them.  It normally reproduces by means of soralia, rounded heaps of powder on the ends of the lobes or on the lobe surface, sometimes on short stalks, as seen in the pictures above.

Menegazzia terebrata

The lichen is a pale bluish grey when dry and greener when wet.  The underside is black, and does not have any rhizines, the root-like underside growths that occur on the common non-inflated blue-grey lichens such as Parmelia, Hypotrachyna and Parmotrema species.  The lobe tips are often dark brown where they begin to turn under, as in this photo.

M terebrata is a hyperoceanic species virtually unknown in Britain away from the west coast.  It has a similar distribution to Hypotrachyna laevigata, which is the dominant lichen on birches in our area but absent further east where it can't cope with the drier conditions.  M terebrata is even less tolerant of any reduction in rainfall than H laevigata.  You'll see an awful lot of H laevigata while looking for M terebrata.  It's quite easy to pick out the hollow-looking lichens from the flat Hypotrachyna and Parmelia around them, but the first hollow ones you find will probably be Hypogymnia species.  Then it's down to finding one with holes, and you'll know you have a genuine Flute!

Please send in your Flute Lichen 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 LORN forum and let me know it is there.

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

27 January: Seen several times on LNHG visit to Glen Creran Woods, on birch, holly and alder.  Jan Hamilton spotted it first.

Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here is the list of species we've had so far:

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

Next month's page
Current month's page

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  The 2nd and 3rd photos are Jan Hamilton.