Lichens




A horsehair lichen Bryoria smithii - Critically endangered and nationally rare

This hair-like lichen is now probably extinct in Scotland and Wales and is known to survive in the UK only at two sites in Devon, both on Dartmoor: Blacktor Copse, where it was last recorded in 2016, and at Wistmans Wood where it was re-found in 2017. It grows as an epiphyte on upland oak trees. It is likely to be at risk on Dartmoor from changes in climate, from air pollution, and from new oak pests and diseases.

Map to show the Devon distibution of this species



Tree catapyrenium lichen Catapyrenium psoromoides - Critically endangered and nationally rare

This lichen is known only from one site in Scotland and four in southern England. Devon is a stronghold, with Chudleigh Rocks a major site. Here it grows on moss on rocks, and it is at risk from competition from flowering plants. Devon lichenologists intend to visit Chudleigh Rocks in 2020 to assess the lichen's status there.



Scrambled-egg lichen Gyalolechia fulgens / Fulgensia fulgens - Endangered and nationally rare

This orange-yellow encrusting lichen is known from just six sites in England and two in SW Wales. Braunton Burrows in Devon is an important site for it. Here it is at risk from the open compact ground it lives on being taken over by flowering plants and invaded by scrub. Its major population on Pebble Slack appears to be stable, but the species has been lost from a couple of places further north in the Burrows through smothering by taller vegetation including sea buckthorn. The Dynamic Dunescapes project, planned to start in autumn 2020, led by Plantlife working together with the Christie Estate, will see extensive areas of scrub removed, and open ground create, and should benefit the lichen.




A scribble lichen Opegrapha subelevata - Endangered and nationally rare

This lichen is only found on Devon and Dorset coasts, on shale rocks. In Devon it has been found on both coasts. Berrynarbour on the north coast is a major site. Here it is threatened by a sheet of ivy falling down from high on the cliff above. Control of this ivy is likely to require specialist climbers. Devon lichenologists are keeping an eye on the species and will advise on management requirements. Berrynarbour is also the location for another lichen that is a Devon Special Species, the Fringed Shield Lichen Parmelina carporhizans.


Image above by Barbara Benfield
A lichen Parmelia submontana - Data deficient, nationally rare

Despite being a large species usually occurring in some abundance at the sites where it occurs, it is currently known in the UK from only two sites of Dartmoor, where it has been only recently discovered, and one in Wales. On Dartmoor it is found on ten willows in the Devon Wildlife Trust's Emsworthy Mire reserve, and on willows at the Heatree Activity Centre near Manaton. A species that is not easily overlooked, its range may be expanding. It is threatened by clearing willow carr, a habitat that is currently much undervalued in Devon, by air pollution and perhaps from climate change leading to summer droughts.

Map to show the Devon distribution of this species



Fringed shield lichen Parmelina carporhizans - Vulnerable and nationally scarce

Devon is a national stronghold for this lichen. It grows on well-lit branches, mainly near the coast, and is found along both Devon coasts as well as at a few inland sites. Coastal locations include the East Devon Undercliffs and Berrynarbour on the north coast - the latter place is also the location for another Devon Special Species lichen, Opegrapha subelevata. The lichen also used to occur on a lime tree at Arlington which was felled. Seldom occurring in quantity, this lichen may be at risk from brambles and other undergrowth smothering the trees ion which it grows.


Image above by Barbara Benfield
String-of-sausages lichen Usnea articulata - Near threatened and declining

Formerly widespread, this striking beard lichen is now largely confined to South-West England, Devon being its UK stronghold. It is typically found hanging from the branches of trees, often high up, both in and outside woodlands. Another beard lichen, Usnea florida, which is also threatened and declining, occurs in similar places: Devon is a national stronghold for it too. Both species are highly sensitive to air pollution. Although apparently holding their own in Devon, they are locally placed at risk by high ammonia emissions from intensive livestock units.

Map to show the Devon distribution of this species


A lichen Wadeana dendrographa - Near threatened and globally rare

Devon, along with Dorset and Cornwall, are national strongholds for this lichen. It grows on the bark of ancient or veteran trees, favouring ash. Known sites in Devon have not been visited recently, except for an ash on National Trust land near the donkey sanctuary at Branscombe. The lichen is at high risk from ash dieback disease, caused by the pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxinea, a fungus

Map to show the Devon distribution of this species

Further sources of information:

The British Lichen Society