Minnesota Lichens

Composite Organism

Lichens are composite organisms, not individual organisms. They do not form a taxonomic group, but are found in separate lineages. They are composed of a fungus (the mycobiont) and a photosynthetic partner (the photobiont), usually either a green alga or a cyanobacteria. They take their scientific name from the fungal component. There are 14,000 to 20,000 species of lichens in hundreds of genera.


Field Dog Lichen



Recent Additions

Boreal Oakmoss


Boreal Oakmoss (Evernia mesomorpha) is a common and widespread shrubby lichen. It occurs across the globe in the northern latitudes. In the United States it is restricted to the northern tier of states. In Minnesota it is common in the northern third of the state, very common in the Arrowhead region, with only scattered occurrences south to the Metro region. It is found in sunny sites in forests and woodlands. It grows on the branches of both deciduous and coniferous trees. It is relatively tolerant of pollution, which allows it to survive near urban areas.

The vegetative body is shrub-like. It consists of numerous, loosely hanging, evenly forked branches. It looks something like an antler lichen but has broader branches. The branches are soft when wet, and pliable, not brittle, when dry. The upper and lower surfaces are green, wrinkled, and usually have abundant, coarse, granules. These granules are the main form vegetative reproduction. Sexual reproductive structures are rarely produced.

Boreal Oakmoss is not edible. Handling it may cause severe dermatitis.

  Bristly Beard Lichen  
    Photo by Luciearl  

Bristly Beard Lichen


Bristly Beard Lichen (Usnea hirta) is a very common shrubby lichen, It occurs throughout Europe and the Americas. It is common in northeast and north-central Minnesota, very common in the Arrowhead region, but completely absent from the remaining two-thirds of the state. It is found in coniferous and mixed forests growing on the bark and twigs of sick or dying coniferous trees, rarely also on birch trees, very rarely also on rock.

Bristly Beard Lichen is pale, grayish-green, yellowish-green, or blackish-gray, and is variable in shape. It may appear as a few long drooping strands; an erect, densely branched, shrub-like tuft; or a combination of the two. The main branches are unequal in length and have numerous short side branches. They are usually short, erect, and stiff when dry, limp when wet. Drooping branches, if present, are long and contorted. All branches are angular, not round, in cross section, are swollen at the base, and are often broadly forked. The base of each branch is the same color as the rest of the branch, not blackened. The surface is dull to shiny and never cracked.

  Bristly Beard Lichen  
    Photo by Luciearl  

Sinewed Bushy Lichen


Sinewed Bushy Lichen (Ramalina americana) is widespread and very common. It occurs in the eastern deciduous forests of the United States and southern Canada, and in the mountainous forests of Mexico. In Minnesota it is very common in the north, scattered to absent in the south. It is found on bark of old hardwood trees, usually in full sun, mostly on twigs and branches in the upper canopy but also on the trunk. It is more sensitive to air pollution than most lichens, and is absent from areas with even mild air pollution.

Sinewed Bushy Lichen appears as a short, shrubby, yellowish-green tuft. The branches are narrow, straight-sided, flattened, solid, and strongly ridged and channeled. Yellow, disk-like, spore-producing structures are frequent and large. They appear at or close to the tips of the branches. They are usually flat but often contorted.

  Sinewed Bushy Lichen  
    Photo by Luciearl  

Hooded Sunburst Lichen


Hooded Sunburst Lichen (Oxneria fallax) is a widespread and very common lichen. It occurs throughout Europe and across North America, and is very common in Minnesota. It grows on bark on the trunks of hardwood trees in humid to moderately dry conditions. It forms rosettes up to 1½ in diameter that often fuse together into large colonies.

Hooded Sunburst Lichen is leaf-like and divided into small lobes. It is deep orange where exposed to the sun, orangish-red to reddish-orange in partially shaded areas, and pale greenish-yellow in deep shade. Tiny, crescent-shaped slits, are formed on the margins at the tips of the lobes. Within the slits powdery, greenish-yellow clusters of cells are produced. The cell clusters are dispersed by wind and rain, and can form new rosettes when they land on a suitable surface.

Disk-like, spore-producing structures are rarely produced. When present, the disks are stalked, orange, up to in diameter, and shaped like a plate. Each disk has a ring of tissue around it that resembles the tissue of the lobes.

  Hooded Sunburst Lichen  
    Photo by Alfredo Colon  

Tree Lungwort


Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria) is common in the northeast and north-central regions on Minnesota. It is found on trees, mossy rocks, and wood in mature coniferous and deciduous forests. It is sensitive to atmospheric pollution and is considered a good indicator of a rich, healthy, unpolluted forest.

Tree Lungwort is leaf-like and is divided into large lobes. The lobes are often attached at just one end and hang loosely. They are pale brown to olive-brown and papery when dry, bright green and leathery when wet or moist. The upper surface has a conspicuous network of ridges and depressions.

Tree Lungwort is a favorite food source for moose in northeast United States. It was once thought by herbalists to be a remedy for tuberculosis because it resembles lung tissue.

  Tree Lungwort  
    Photo by Luciearl  
Other Recent Additions

Bottlebrush Frost Lichen (Physconia detersa)

Unknown Lichens

Hammered Shield Lichen (Parmelia sulcata)

Powder-edged Speckled Greenshield (Flavopunctelia soredica)

Felt Horn Lichen (Cladonia phyllophora)

Lipstick Powderhorn (Cladonia macilenta)

  Felt Horn Lichen  
      Photo by Luciearl  









This list includes only lichens that have been recorded in Minnesota, but not all of the lichens found in Minnesota.

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Unknown Lichen





American Starburst Lichen










Boreal Oakmoss

Bottlebrush Frost Lichen

Bright Cobblestone Lichen

Bristly Beard Lichen

British Soldiers

Common Antler Lichen

Common Greenshield Lichen


Eastern Candlewax Lichen

Eastern Speckled Shield Lichen

Elegant Sunburst Lichen

Felt Horn Lichen (Cladonia phyllophora)

Field Dog Lichen

Green Reindeer Lichen

Hammered Shield Lichen

Hooded Sunburst Lichen

Lipstick Powderhorn
























Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen





Powder-edged Speckled Greenshield
























Sinewed Bushy Lichen

Smooth Axil-bristle Lichen

Star Rosette Lichen

Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria sp.)

Tree Lungwort

Whitewash Lichen


Unknown Lichens


a species of thelocarpon lichen (Thelocarpon epibolum)


Abrading Ring Lichen (Arctoparmelia subcentrifuga)


Alternating Dog Lichen (Peltigera didactyla)


American Cartilage Lichen (Ramalina americana)

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American Starburst Lichen (Imshaugia placorodia)


Angel’s Hair Lichen (Ramalina thrausta)


Appalachian Speckled Shield Lichen (Punctelia appalachensis)


Baglietto’s dotted lichen (Bacidia bagliettoana)


Black Disc Lichen (Buellia nigra)


Black-footed Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia stygia)


Bloody Beard Lichen (Usnea mutabilis)


Bloody Heart Lichen (Mycoblastus sanguinarius)


Blue-gray Rosette Lichen (Physcia caesia)


Bolander’s Peltula Lichen (Peltula bolanderi)

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Boreal Oakmoss (Evernia mesomorpha)


Boreal Single-spored Map Lichen (Rhizocarpon grande)

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Bottlebrush Frost Lichen (Physconia detersa)


Bottlebrush Shield Lichen (Parmelia squarrosa)


Branching Pixie Pebblehorn Lichen (Cladonia decorticata)

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Bright Cobblestone Lichen (Acarospora socialis)

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Bristly Beard Lichen (Usnea hirta)

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British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)


Brook Stippleback Lichen (Dermatocarpon luridum)


Brown Beter Lichen (Baeomyces rufus)


Brown-eyed Camouflage Lichen (Melanelia subolivacea)


Brown-gray Moss-shingle Lichen (Protopannaria pezizoides)


Caloplaca parvula


Candy Lichen (Icmadophila ericetorum)


Candleflame Lichen (Candelaria concolor)


Cavern Beard Lichen (Usnea cavernosa)


Cinder Lichen (Aspicilia cinerea)

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Common Antler Lichen (Pseudevernia consocians)


Common Button Lichen (Buellia stillingiana)


Common Goldspeck (Candelariella vitellina)

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Common Greenshield Lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata)

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Common Powderhorn (Cladonia coniocraea)


Common Tree Firedot Lichen (Caloplaca holocarpa)


Concentric Ring Lichen (Arctoparmelia centrifuga)


Cumberland Rock Shield (Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia)


Cup Lichen (Cladonia peziziformis)


Dog Lichen (Peltigera caninna)


Dusty Cobblestone Lichen (Acarospora americana)


Easter Foam Lichen (Stereocaulon paschale)

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Eastern Candlewax Lichen (Ahtiana aurescens)

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Eastern Speckled Shield Lichen (Punctelia bolliana)

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Elegant Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria elegans)


False Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia wainioi)


Fan Lichen (Peltigera venosa)

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Felt Horn Lichen (Cladonia phyllophora)

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Field Dog Lichen (Peltigera rufescens)


firedot lichen (Caloplaca lignicola)


firedot lichen (Caloplaca soralifera)


firedot lichen (Caloplaca sp.)


firedot lichen (Caloplaca stellata)


Fluffy Dust Lichen (Lepraria finkii)


Frayed Ramalina Lichen (Ramalina roesleri)


Fringed Candleflame Lichen (Candelaria fibrosa)


Gold Dust Lichen (Chrysothrix candelaris)


Golden Dot Lichen (Arthrorhaphis citrinella)


Golden Moonglow Lichen (Dimelaena oreina)


Granular Mottled-disk Lichen (Trapeliopsis granulosa)


Gray Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia rangiferina)

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Green Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia mitis)


Green Starburst Lichen (Parmeliopsis ambigua)


Greenpea Mushroom Lichen (Omphalina umbellifera)

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Hammered Shield Lichen (Parmelia sulcata)


Hanging Fringe Lichen (Anaptychia crinalis)


Hoary Rosette Lichen (Physcia aipolia)

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Hooded Sunburst Lichen (Oxneria fallax)


Lecanora opiniconensis


Leptogium apalachense

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Lipstick Powderhorn (Cladonia macilenta)


Mapledust Lichen (Lecanora thysanophora)


Mealy Pixie Cup (Cladonia chlorophaea)


Methuselah’s Beard Lichen (Usnea longissima)


Orange-Dust Firedot Lichen (Caloplaca microphyllina)


Orange Rock Posy (Rhizoplaca chrysoleuca)


Orange-tinted Fringe Lichen (Heterodermia obscurata)


Pale-footed Horsehair Lichen (Bryoria fuscescens)


Parmelia stictica


Pebbled Pixie Cup (Cladonia pyxidata)


Peg Lichen (Cladonia polycarpoides)


Peppered Moon Lichen (Sticta fuliginosa)


Phaeophyscia chloantha

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Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen (Polycauliona polycarpa)


Pixie Foam Lichen (Stereocaulon pileatum)


Plated Rock Tripe (Umbilicaria muehlenbergii)


Poplar Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria hasseana)


Port-hole Lichen (Menegazzia terebrata)


Powder-edged Ruffle Lichen (Parmelia stuppea)

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Powder-edged Speckled Greenshield (Flavopunctelia soredica)


Powder-tipped Rosette Lichen (Physcia dubia)


Powder-tipped Shadow Lichen (Phaeophyscia adiastola)


Powdered Speckled Shield Lichen (Punctelia subrudecta)


Powdery Almond Lichen (Amygdalaria panaeola)


Powdery Axil-bristle Lichen (Myelochroa aurulenta)


Powdery Goldspeck Lichen (Candelariella efflorescens)


Powdery Saucer Lichen (Ochrolechia androgyna)


Powdery Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria ulophyllodes)


Punctured Rock Tripe (Umbilicaria torrefacta)


Ragbag Lichen (Platismasunbursttia glauca)


Red Beard Lichen (Usnea rubicunda)


rim lichen (Lecanora epanora)


Rock Axil-bristle Lichen (Myelochroa obsessa)


Rock Greenshield Lichen (Flavoparmelia baltimorensis)


Rock Shield Lichen (Xanthoparmelia sp.)


Salted Shell Lichen (Coccocarpia palmicola)


Salted Starburst Lichen (Imshaugia aleurites)


Shag-Belly Stippleback Lichen (Dermatocarpon moulinsii)

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Sinewed Bushy Lichen (Ramalina americana)

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Smooth Axil-bristle Lichen (Myelochroa galbina)


Smooth Lungwort (Lobaria quercizans)


Smooth-footed Powderhorn (Cladonia ochrochlora)


Speckled Greenshield (Flavopunctelia flaventior)

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Star Rosette Lichen (Physcia stellaris)


Stonewall Rim Lichen (Protoparmeliopsis muralis)


Stretched Jellyskin (Leptogium milligranum)


Sugared Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria sorediata)


Sulphur Dust Lichen (Chrysothrix chlorina)


Sulphur Firedot Lichen (Caloplaca flavovirescens)


Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria sp.)


Textured Lungwort (Lobaria scrobiculata)


Tight Rock-shield (Xanthoparmelia lineola)


Tiny Button Lichen (Amandinea punctata)

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Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria)


Trumpet Lichen (Cladonia fimbriata)


Wand Lichen (Cladonia rei)

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Whitewash Lichen (Phlyctis argena)


Yellow Map Lichen (Rhizocarpon geographicum)


Yellow Ribbon Lichen (Allocetraria oakesiana)


Yellow Specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria crocata)




No Species Page Yet?

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