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Oak Moss Lichen

Evernia prunastri

with little tiny branches almost like a a lot of green tiny deer antlers
  • Grows in short tufts (to 10 cm) of flattened branches with forked tips, often with a net-like pattern of ridges visible on the surface.
  • Pale grey-green to pale yellow-green on the upper side and whitish underneath. This can be harder to see if the lichen has spent some time on the ground or in older specimens. This colour difference is due to Evernia technically being a foliose lichen, as its internal structure means it just has a single layer of algal cells beneath the upper cortex.
  • Patches of grainy soredia may be present on the edges of branches and ridges, becoming more extensive over time. Apothecia (fruiting bodies) are very rare.

Habitat

It prefers well-lit conditions, so is often present in the canopy and on lower branches in well-lit situations.

Similar species

Could be confused with Ramalina farinacea (below) which has narrower, more straggly branches, and lacks the pale underside. E. prunastri  also lacks the oval soralia on the edges of the lobes, which is a distinctive feature of R. farinacea.

Other lichens with strap-like branches that are likely to be encountered in the rainforest, such as Ramalina calicaris, R. fastigiata, and R. fraxinea, commonly have rounded apothecia on their branches which are extremely rare in E. prunastri.

Distribution 

Widespread and common across the whole British Isles

Other Species

Oak Moss Lichen
with little tiny branches almost like a a lot of green tiny deer antlers

Oak Moss Lichen

Evernia prunastri

Fanfare of Trumpets Lichen

Fanfare of Trumpets Lichen

Ramalina fastigiata 

Shaggy Strap Lichen
Shaggy Strap Lichen

Shaggy Strap Lichen

Ramalina farinacea

Smoky Spindles

Clavaria fumosa 

Smoky Spindles

What to look for?

  • Smoky spindles have simple, unbranched tapered clubs, often formed into a cluster among the grass – or they can be growing singly. They are very brittle and can snap easily.
  • Their colour ranges from greyish brown to pinkish brown to pale-ochre brown. Their tips go darker with age and their spores are white.
  • They are often somewhat laterally flattened – sometimes straight, but more often wavy with bluntly pointed or rounded tips.
  • The individual stems are typically 2-12cm tall and 3-10mm in diameter.

Where to find them?

They are generally found in unimproved grassland (favouring acid or neutral grassland) and in leaf litter on woodland edges and clearings.  In the summer and autumn, they can be found on road verges, in cropped grassland and in churchyards.

After years of low-nutrient management, they can also appear on lawns.

Don’t mistake it with…

  • Clavaria fragilis is similar but has white spindly fruitbodies.
  • Clavulinopsis fusiformis has a similar form but is golden yellow. 

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

White Campion

White Campion

Silene latifolia

Fanfare of Trumpets Lichen

Ramalina fastigiata 

A very common fruticose lichen on trees, which is easy for beginners to recognise.

  • Grey-green irregularly shaped and flattened branches, often wrinkled. 
  • Branches end with round and flattened fruits (apothecia). 

As its evocative English name suggests, this lichen is relatively easy to spot once you have seen its ‘trumpets’. These are the apothecia (fruiting bodies) that stand out at the tips of many of the branches. They vary in size, but collectively make a visual impact. 

Distribution

Widespread and common across the British Isles with concentrations in southern England and coastal areas. 

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum

Shaggy Strap Lichen

Ramalina farinacea

Shaggy Strap Lichen
  • Grows in pale grey-green to yellow-green tufts, with flattened, straggly and forked branches (up to 10cm).  
  • Soredia in discrete oval soralia along branch margins. This is clear with a hand lens, but possible to see without. Apothecia (fruiting bodies) are rare. 
  • Both sides of the branches have the same colouring (and it does not have a white underside). 

Habitat

One of the most common fruticose species on trees with acidic bark such as alder, birch and oak. It is fairly pollution tolerant.

Similar species

Could be confused with Evernia prunastri but that lacks the oval soralia on the edges of the branches and has distinctly paler undersides to the branches.  When first becoming familiar with lichens you may also confuse R. fastigiata for an Usnea species as first glance, but if you look carefully you will notice that R. farinacea has flattened branches rather than cylindrical branches.  

Similar to other Ramalina species such as R. calicaris, R. fastigiata, and R. fraxinea, but they have rounded apothecia (fruiting bodies) and they lack the oval soralia. 

Distribution

Widespread and common across the whole British Isles. 

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum

String-of-sausages Lichen

Usnea articulata 

  • Grey-green tassels of up to 1 m hanging down or draped across the substrate but rarely anchored to it.  
  • Main stems have inflated sections which are pinched at intervals, and so resemble a string of sausages. This is a key feature to look for as there are other pendulous Usnea species but none have this characteristic.

Habitat

It is most common in the south west’s temperate rainforest zone. 

Favouring well-lit conditions and dry, open situations, it is most often found in tree canopies or on lower branches where trees are well-lit, in woodland or on scattered trees in open moorland. You can also find it on the ground after stormy weather. 

Similar species

Other large, bearded lichens include Usnea ceratina, Usnea dasopoga and Usnea hirta but these lack the sausage-like lobes. 

Did you know

  • It is a Section 41 species which means that it is considered of “principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity in England” under Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006).
  • A clean air indicator, rare outside of south-west England’s rainforest zone. Highly sensitive to sulphur dioxide pollution, it was once much more widespread in Britain but now appears to be making a comeback, perhaps due to improved air quality and a warming climate. 

Distribution 

Largely restricted to south-western parts of the UK with most records in south-west England. 

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum