categoryZLichens Lichens List 

VESUVIUS SNOW LICHEN
(America)

Stereocaulon vesuvianum

Family [Stereocaulaceae]

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category8Lichens

1st Nov 2013, Low Tilbertwaite Rd, nr. Little Langdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A very common lichen but one which prefers to inhabit the tops of dry-stone walls, and is seldom seem on the sides. It often blankets large areas of the tops of walls.


1st Nov 2013, Low Tilbertwaite Rd, nr. Little Langdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The specimens may look thoroughly dry, but the day was anything but, with showers every five minutes without any respite of sunshine.


1st Nov 2013, Low Tilbertwaite Rd, nr. Little Langdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
It is a very shrubby pale-green lichen that looks like it is encrusted with light dusting of snow.


1st Nov 2013, Low Tilbertwaite Rd, nr. Little Langdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The stalks are pliable rather than fragile. The Author guesses that this might have been one of the shrubby lichens that was once popular for model railway layouts as model shrubs (although exactly which shrub it might have been imitating is somewhat obscure, maybe Shrub Ragwort on a non-flowering week).


1st Nov 2013, Low Tilbertwaite Rd, nr. Little Langdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The brown fruiting parts (apothecia) are relatively rare, but here displays the colours of the dyes to be expected to be obtained from extracts of the Orcinol derivatives it contains. They can be brown to black.


1st Nov 2013, Low Tilbertwaite Rd, nr. Little Langdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The thin pale-green shoots are branched and covered in greyish-white soredia.


1st Nov 2013, Low Tilbertwaite Rd, nr. Little Langdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A close-up. the specimens here are wet to damp, with colours a little more visible that in dry conditions when it all appears mostly greyish-white or silvery.


Easily mistaken for : many other Stereocaulon species. Indeed, because the Author does not employ any chemical Spot-tests at all, he could easily have mis-identified it. But this is the one that many books claim is very common in hilly upland areas.

There are several varieties of Stereocaulon vesuvianum found natively in the UK:

  • var. vesuvianum
  • var. nodulosum
  • var. symphycheileoides
which are all found in the Lake District, amongst many other hilly places. There are several other varieties found in the rest of the World.

There is no common name for these lichens in the UK save for Stereocaulon vesuvianum but in America they call them Vesuvius Snow Lichens.

Stereocaulon vesuvianum is mainly found on the top of dry-stone walls in the highlands and lowlands of the Lake District where it is very common, and throughout the UK. but it os probably not the only species of Stereocaulon to be found atop dry-stone walls.

Many other Stereocaulon species are found in the UK, amongst them:

  • Stereocaulon condensatum (which is much more squat, <1cm)
  • Stereocaulon dactylophylum (with many light-brown apothecia)
  • Stereocaulon delisei
  • Stereocaulon evolutum
  • Stereocaulon glareosum
  • Stereocaulon leucophaeopsis
  • Stereocaulon nanodes
  • Stereocaulon pileatum

In the UK there are dozens of differing species of Stereocaulon. The secondary metabolites found within the Stereocaulon genus are: the Depsides of Orcinol and β-Orcinol, the Depsidones of Orcinol and β-Orcinol, and some aliphatic acids. As such the Stereocaulon species were used to make orange and brown dyes. See also  Lichen Dyes


  Stereocaulon vesuvianum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Stereocaulaceae  

VESUVIUS SNOW LICHEN
(America)

Stereocaulon vesuvianum

Family [Stereocaulaceae]