Devil's matchstick Cladonia floerkeana

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See
Colour Red
Habitat Heathland

Also known as 'British soldier'.

A quirky lichen with red-capped branches (known as 'podetia'), this lichen usually grows between one and three centimetres in height.

Like all lichens, the Devil's matchstick is actually two organisms working together: a fungus and an algae in a symbiotic relationship.

Where to see it

Cladonia floerkeana has a fondness for dead wood so rotting logs and fence posts are a good place to start. It also grows on well drained soil with a high organic matter content such as that found on heath and moorland. Cladonia floerkeana is also able to colonise bare ground.

Distribution

This lichen is scattered throughout the UK, although more commonly found in the north and the west.

Did you know?

Lichens are very sensitive to air pollution: the more lichens you find in a place the cleaner the air!

Lichens that colonise rocks are important in soil formation. They slowly loosen microscopic particles of rock and, by accumulating these particles as well as dust, they allow mosses and other species to grow on that substrate.

Find out more about lichens with our Wild and Wonderful leaflet.