Powdered Sunshine Lichen

(Vulpicida pinastri)

Conservation Status
Powdered Sunshine Lichen
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Powdered Sunshine Lichen is an easily recognized, widespread, and very common lichen. It occurs in northern forested areas around the globe (circumboreal), including Europe, Asia, and North America. It occurs in every province in Canada. In the United States it occurs in the east from Maine to Virginia, west to Minnesota and Indiana, and in the west from Northern Washington to central California, east to North Dakota and New Mexico. It grows on the bark of conifers and birch. It is usually found no more than chest high, probably protected under snow from desiccation by winter winds.

The vegetative body (thallus) is leaf-like (foliose), divided into lobes, and usually more than 1¼ (3 cm) in diameter. It is attached to the substrate (bark) with scattered, white, anchoring structures (rhizines). When growing on flat surfaces, the lobes are short, and they join with adjacent thalli forming a flat (adnate) rosette. When growing on thin branches, the lobes are longer and more erect.

The lobes are 116 to 316 (1.5 to 5.0 mm) wide and variable in form. They may be radiating or irregular, overlapping or scattered, and flat or curved up from the surface and more or less erect (ascending). They are usually ascending and rounded. The margins are wavy, more or less ascending, and scalloped (crenate), the ultimate lobes mostly short and 164 to 116 (0.2 to 1.5 mm) wide. The upper surface is smooth or slightly longitudinally grooved (canaliculate). It is unspotted, dull, and greenish-yellow or yellowish-green in sunny locations, grayish-green in shaded locations. The lower may be the same color as the upper surface, or pale yellow to brownish-yellow. The margins are densely covered with bright yellow reproductive granules (soredia), giving them a powdered look. This is the feature that gives the lichen its common name. The upper side of the thallus does not have soredia.

Spore-producing structures (apothecia) are very rarely produced. When present, they are 132to (1.0 to 2.5 mm) in diameter and saucer-shaped, with a pale reddish-brown disc.


Similar Species






Growth Form










Conifers and birch


Distribution Map



4, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77, 81.





  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Phylum Ascomycota (sac fungi)  
  Subphylum Pezizomycotina  
  Class Lecanoromycetes (common lichens)  
  Subclass Lecanoromycetidae (shield lichens, sunburst lichens, rosette lichens, and allies)  


Lecanorales (shield lichens, rim lichens, and allies)  




Parmeliaceae (shield lichens and allies)  
  Subfamily Parmelioideae (typical shield lichens)  


  Mycobiont Vulpicida pinastri  



Cetraria pinastri

Lichen pinastri

Lobaria pinastri

Parmelia pinastri

Platisma pinastri

Squamaria pinastri

Tuckermannopsis pinastri


Common Names


Powdered Sunshine Lichen












An open, disk-shaped or cup-shaped, reproductive structure, with spore sacs on the upper surface, that produces spores for the fungal partner of a lichen. Plural: apothecia.



Growing upward at an angle or curving upward from the base.



Leaf-like; referring to lichens with thin, flat, leaf-like growths divided into lobes which are free from the substrate.



A root-like structure of a lichen that attaches the lower layer to the substrate.



An asexual reproductive structure of a lichen in the form of a tiny dull granule on the thallus surface that can be easily brushed off. It consists of a cluster of algal cells (the photobiont) wrapped in fungal filaments (the mycobiont), but without an outer layer of protective tissue (cortex). Plural: soredia.



In lichens: The vegetative body of a lichen composed of both the alga and the fungus. In liverworts: a flat, relatively undifferentiated plant body. Plural: thalli.





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Alfredo Colon

    Powdered Sunshine Lichen   Powdered Sunshine Lichen  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos





Vulpicida pinastri
Amadej Trnkoczy
  Vulpicida pinastri  

Vulpicida pinastri (Scop.) Mattson & Lai (Syn.: Centraria pinastri)
Powdered Sunshine Lichen
Slo.: ?

Dat.: Nov. 10. 2008
Lat.: 46.41862 Long.: 13.75840
Code: Bot_311/2008-5002-#155

Habitat: At the tree line, S faced steep alpine grassland, open space, partly exposed to sun and rain, precipitations ~3.000 mm/year, average temperature 2-4 deg C, elevation 1.900 m (6.200 feet), alpine phytogeographical region.
Substratum: bark of a Larix decidua tree near its base, west oriented

Place: South slopes of Mt.Prisojnik above Kranjska planina, Posocje, East Julian Alps, Slovenia EC




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Other Videos
  Vulpicida pinastri, Oak creek overlook on Twin peaks trail, Ouray, Colorado.
Mike's thoughts on plants.

Sep 6, 2021

9,300 feet in the moist valley of Oak creek with very steep walls.

I thought it was sap at first. No apothecia, green yellow, on bark.




Visitor Sightings

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  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

Powdered Sunshine Lichen  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

Powdered Sunshine Lichen  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings






Created: 1/16/2023

Last Updated:

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