Dog Lichen

Monday, December 16th 2013

While planting Oak trees last week this beautiful dog lichen was found growing amongst damp moss in the woodland clearing.

This has since been identified as Peltigera hymenina, yet another new species for the reserve!  Dog lichens are relatively common and can be found growing on moss, trees and rocks, though are most frequently seen growing on bare soil.  The irregular spreading thallus can reach 20 cm in diameter, but typically grows within the range of 10 cm to 15 cm.  The thin papery lobes develop to about 1.5 cm to 2 cm in width and 2 cm to 6 cm in length.

The apothecia (sexual reproductive structures) are distinct with a dark red-brown colour.  Spores are released from these, representing only the fungal part of the lichen.  In order to reproduce the spores must chance upon an algal partner.  A benefit of reproduction using spores is the lichen can spread over a large distance.  Dog lichens can also reproduce using soredia, genetically identical to the parent these clusters of algal cells surrounded by fungal hyphae travel only a short distance from the original lichen.

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