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

Common Powderhorn

Common Powderhorn (Cladonia coniocraea) is a widespread and very common lichen in Europe, Asia, and North America. In the United States it is found from the east coast to the Midwest, including Minnesota, on the west coast, and in the Rocky Mountains. It grows in the shade on decaying stumps and logs and often at the bases of trees. It is resistant to pollution and can be found in urban areas.

Common Powderhorn produces two types of green to grayish-green vegetative growth: a flat, overlapping, leaf-like scale that adheres closely to the substrate; and a slender, hollow, vertical stalk with a pointed tip. The undersides of the basal scales are white because they lack a protective outer coating. The surface of the stalk is mealy due to a covering of tiny reproductive granules.

  Common Powderhorn
  Photo by Luciearl

Elegant Sunburst Lichen

Elegant Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria elegans) is an extremely widespread and very common lichen. It grows on rocks in humid to dry micro climates on all continents except Australia. It is common on rocky shores, especially where bird droppings provide nitrogen for its sustenance. It is very common on the rocky shores of Lake Superior.

Elegant Sunburst Lichen is very long lived and very slow growing: it grows at a consistent rate of 1 64 per year for the first hundred years before slowing down a bit. The color of the upper surface varies with the amount of available moisture : in streams it is yellowish-orange, on rocks out of water it is orange, and in dry areas it is dark reddish-orange.

  Elegant Sunburst Lichen
  Photo by Luciearl

Eastern Candlewax Lichen

Eastern Candlewax Lichen (Ahtiana aurescens) is a medium-sized lichen that grows on the bark of cedar and pine trees. In eastern North America it is found in undisturbed old growth forests, where the dense shade, high humidity, and the texture of the substrate (bark), combine to create ideal conditions for its proliferation. In Minnesota it is found only in the Arrowhead region and usually in northern white cedar swamps. Habitat destruction due to logging of old growth forests threatens this species continued survival in Minnesota. For this reason, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has listed this as a Special Concern species.

Eastern Candlewax Lichen is identified by the yellowish-green upper surface that is not powdery, granular, chalky, or “frosted” in appearance; the lower surface that is pale brown, smooth, and shiny; its growth on cedar and pine bark; and its occurrence in the Great Lakes region.

  Eastern Candlewax Lichen
  Photo by Luciearl

Green Reindeer Lichen

Reindeer lichens are the primary source of food in winter for caribou (reindeer), hence the common name Reindeer Lichens. They are long lived, surviving 100 years or more, and they are slow growing. A clump crushed by a footprint may take decades to recover.

Green Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia mitis) is very common in Alaska, throughout Canada, and across the northern United States except in the Pacific northwest. It is especially common in white spruce and black spruce forests. It forms dense mats with other reindeer lichens that can form a continuous carpet on the forest floor. A single clump often contains more than one species of reindeer lichen.

Green Reindeer Lichen is similar in appearance to Gray Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia rangiferina). The terminal branchlets of the former spread in all directions, while those of the latter are swept in one direction.

  Green Reindeer Lichen
  Photo by Luciearl

Bright Cobblestone Lichen

Bright Cobblestone Lichen (Acarospora socialis) is very common in southwestern United States. It is the most common yellow member of its genus in the southwest, and one of the most common lichens of any kind in the deserts of Arizona and southern California. It is uncommon in Minnesota, where it has been recorded only in Cottonwood County.

Bright Cobblestone Lichen is up to 4 wide and may be crusty, appearing sprayed on like paint; leaf-like, with thin, flat, lobes; or cracked, appearing somewhat like cracked paint. The upper surface is usually bright yellow or greenish-yellow when fresh but may be bleached white with age.

  Bright Cobblestone Lichen

Other Recent Additions

Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria sp.)

Smooth Axil-bristle Lichen

  Smooth Axil-bristle Lichen
    Photo by Luciearl








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a species of firedot lichen (Caloplaca stellata)
























Bright Cobblestone Lichen

British Soldiers









Common Greenshield Lichen






Eastern Candlewax Lichen


Field Dog Lichen









Green Reindeer Lichen


















































Smooth Axil-bristle Lichen





Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria sp.)


a species of rim lichen (Lecanora epanora)


a species of thelocarpon lichen (Thelocarpon epibolum)


Abrading Ring Lichen (Arctoparmelia subcentrifuga)


Alternating Dog Lichen (Peltigera didactyla)


American Cartilage Lichen (Ramalina americana)


American Starburst Lichen (Imshaugia placorodia)


Angel’s Hair Lichen (Ramalina thrausta)


Baglietto’s dotted lichen (Bacidia bagliettoana)


Black Disc Lichen (Buellia nigra)


Black-footed Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia stygia)


Bloody Beard Lichen (Usnea mutabilis)


Blue-gray Rosette Lichen (Physcia caesia)


Bolander’s Peltula Lichen (Peltula bolanderi)


Boreal Single-spored Map Lichen (Rhizocarpon grande)


Bottlebrush Shield Lichen (Parmelia squarrosa)


Branching Pixie Pebblehorn Lichen (Cladonia decorticata)

Profile Photo  

Bright Cobblestone Lichen (Acarospora socialis)


Bristly Beard Lichen (Usnea hirta)

  Photo Photo

British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)


Brook Stickleback 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)


Cladonia pseudorangiformis

Profile Photo Photo

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)


Dermatocarpon moulinsii


Dog Lichen (Peltigera caninna)


Dusty Cobblestone Lichen (Acarospora americana)


Easter Foam Lichen (Stereocaulon paschale)

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Eastern Candlewax Lichen (Ahtiana aurescens)

Profile Photo Photo

Elegant Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria elegans)


False Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia wainioi)


Fan Lichen (Peltigera venosa)

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Field Dog Lichen (Peltigera rufescens)


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)


Greenpea Mushroom Lichen (Omphalina umbellifera)


Hammered Shield Lichen (Parmelia sulcata)


Hanging Fringe Lichen (Anaptychia crinalis)


Hooded Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria fallax)


Lecanora opiniconensis


Leptogium apalachense


Lung Lichen (Lobaria pulmonaria)


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


Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria 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)


Powder-tipped Rosette Lichen (Physcia dubia)


Powder-tipped Shadow Lichen (Phaeophyscia adiastola)


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)


Rock Axil-bristle Lichen (Myelochroa obsessa)


Rock Greenshield Lichen (Flavoparmelia baltimorensis)


Rock Shield Lichen (Xanthoparmelia sp.)


Salted Shell Lichen (Coccocarpia palmicola)

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Smooth Axil-bristle Lichen (Myelochroa galbina)


Smooth Lungwort (Lobaria quercizans)


Smooth-footed Powderhorn (Cladonia ochrochlora)


Speckled Greenshield Lichen (Flavoparmelia flavientor)


Star Rosette Lichen (Physcia stellaris)


Sugared Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria sorediata)


Sulphur Dust Lichen (Chrysothrix chlorina)


Sulphur Firedot Lichen (Caloplaca flavovirescens)


Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria sp.)


Textured Lungwort (Lobaria scrobiculata)


Tiny Button Lichen (Amandinea punctata)


Trumpet Lichen (Cladonia fimbriata)


Wand Lichen (Cladonia rei)


Yellow Map Lichen (Rhizocarpon geographicum)


Yellow Ribbon Lichen (Allocetraria oakesiana)


Yellow Specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria crocata)




No Species Page Yet?

If you do not see a linked page for a lichen in the list at left you can still upload a photo or video as an email attachment or report a sighting for that lichen. Click on one of the buttons below and type in the common name and/or scientific name of the lichen in your photo, video, or sighting. A new page will be created for that lichen featuring your contribution.












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