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Fringed Moon Lichen (Sticta beauvoisii)

Life history

Species overview

Fringed Moon Lichen (Sticta beauvoisii), a Wisconsin Special Concern lichen, is found on rocks, including basalt and sandstone, as well as trees, especially in conifer peatlands.



  • Distinguishing characteristics: Fringed moon lichen is most likely to be confused with yellow specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria crocata), another rare lichen. Fringed moon lichen has dark brown isidia along the lobe margins while yellow specklebelly has bright yellow soredia scattered across the thallus surface. Peppered moon lichen (Sticta fuliginosa) may also resemble fringed moon lichen, but again, the isidia can be used to separate the two species. The isidia of peppered moon lichen are dark but found across the thallus surface, not just the margins.
  • Fruiting body characteristics: Apothecia rare.
  • Thallus (vegetative body) characteristics: Thallus foliose, mostly flat though margins occasionally curled; upper surface grey-brown to dark brown, smooth; lobes with creunlate or round margins, up to 10mm wide; lower surface with white cyphellae (pits in cortex) and mat of rhizines and hyphae.


  • Growth form: Foliose lichen
  • Vegetative reproduction: Isidia present, mainly on lobe margins; soredia absent.
  • Comments: Associates: White cedar (Thuja occidentalis), birch (Betula spp.), and red maple (Acer rubrum). Moon lichens are the only group of lichens in the US to have cyphellae (pits or small holes) on the lower cortex. Cyphellae are similar to pseudocyphellae but are not associated with cracks in the cortex.

General overview of lichen morphology

Lichens represent a unique symbiotic relationship between two or sometimes three organisms: a fungus; an alga; and/or a cyanobacterium. This figure provides a good overview of a generalized lichen. The main body of the lichen is called the thallus. The thallus is the vegetative part of the lichen (i.e., not including any reproductive structures like apothecia) and is often what we visually associate with a lichen. The figure above depicts a foliose thallus with the upper surface curled up in places to reveal the lower thallus surface. The magnified thallus cross section on the right shows a number of additional layers. In this example, the top layer is the upper cortex, which is made up of fungal filaments. Underneath that is the photobiont, either an alga or a cyanobacterium or both. Beneath the photobiont is a loose layer of fungal strands (hyphae) called the medulla, and below the medulla is the lower cortex.

Lichens can reproduce sexually via spores, which are associated with the fungal component of the lichen. However, these spores must again find an appropriate photobiont before a new lichen is formed. Lichens can also reproduce asexually. The two structures shown in the box on the left function in asexual reproduction. Both isidia and soredia are essentially photobionts wrapped in a fungal skin. These can be released from the thallus to form new lichens.

Please see the glossary below for descriptions of more lichen-related terms and photos that depict these features.

Glossary of common lichen terms [PDF]

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Fringed Moon Lichen (Sticta beauvoisii). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Sticta beauvoisii in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Mapped in NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which certain rare lichen species are associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

Found on rocks, including basalt and sandstone, as well as trees, especially in conifer peatlands.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Fringed Moon Lichen. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Fringed Moon Lichen. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Ecological landscape score

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for lichens on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Fringed Moon Lichen  Photo.

The upper thallus surface of fringed moon lichen lacks the bright yellow soredia of the otherwise similar yellow specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria crocata).

Photo © Jason Hollinger.

Fringed Moon Lichen  Photo.

The dark brown isidia (granular projections) along the margins of finged moon lichen differentiate it from similar lichens like Pseudocyphellaria crocata and Sticta fuliginosa.

Photo © Jason Hollinger.

Support for Wisconsin's rare lichen information has been provided by the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Monday, April 22, 2019
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition