Fruticose Lichens

 Almost 20 inches of snow kept this person home, doing a nature hike through her picture files. I definitely have no shortage of files.

Mosses and lichens grow high on the rocky hills on Shawnee National Forest land south of my rural property. That’s where these pictures came from.

The following lichens are in a group called fruticose lichens. They are distinguished by miniature branched stalks or by being somewhat bushy.

IMG_2889 crop red

Meet British Soldiers lichen,

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also called red cap.

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They also go by the name scientific name Cladonia cristatella. The red cap is the fruiting body of the lichen.

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Brown cap ( Cladonia capitata) resembles the red cap. They’re much less common here. Their stalks were less than 1/2 inch tall.

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These pixie cups are so cute.  I don’t know enough about them to determine which species of Cladonia they are.

IMG_0588 red

This last fruticose lichen is called reindeer moss. Obviously, we don’t have reindeer in southern Illinois to eat it. I’m unable to find it’s scientific name.

IMG_0574 redReindeer moss can grow into large clumps and be quite common. They’re brittle when dry, and soft and cushy when damp.

Lichens are actually two plants — a fungus and algae — growing together in a symbiotic relationship. The fungus provides the algae a place to live, and the algae provides food for the lichen.

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by my secret love for you on January 11, 2013 at 9:33 am

    unbelievable how precious is our nature, full of amazing beings. Beautiful pictures!


  2. These are very nice. I really enjoyed seeing these. Such interesting and pretty lichens. I am learning so much from your blog.


  3. Those are excellent photos-especially of the British soldiers. My lichen book says that your reindeer lichen might be Cladina mitis.


  4. Absolutely stunning! I only know the flat lichens that cover the rocks of the High Sierras.


  5. Posted by Therese on January 12, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I can remember when we were hiking and you introduced me to the British Soldiers and Pixiecups! Great memories!!!! Stunning pictures, Deer Sister.


  6. Terrific photos of these lichens. I believe your reindeer moss may be Cladonia stellaris … … has the best pix I’ve found … from their book Lichens of North America. Possibly Cladonia rangiferina, but that is whiter and not in such balled clusters. I have some of each here in my northern Adirondack woods (far NE NY). I have a post draft in the works on my (believed) Cladonia stellaris and rangiferina. I just posted one on my Brit soldiers. I believe they all tend to get lumped into the reindeer lichen name. Some sites also call the Brits and other cupped ones “cup lichen.”


  7. […] Fruticose Lichens (includes British soldiers) ( […]


  8. […] the record: I found via Deecee’s post, Fruticose Lichens while exploring information for my recent post on British soldier lichens (Cladonia […]


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