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Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle
608-416-3377

Salted Shell Lichen (Coccocarpia palmicola)

Life history

Species overview

Salted Shell Lichen (Coccocarpia palmicola), a Wisconsin Special Concern lichen, is found on moist or mossy basalt or dolomite.

Synonyms: Coccocarpia cronia

Identification

  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguish salted shell lichen from other look-alikes by the rarity of apothecia and presence of isidia. Other blue-grey foliose lichens either have numerous apothecia (C. erythroxyli, Pannaria tavaresii) or have soredia instead of isidia (Pannaria conoplea).
  • Fruiting body characteristics: Apothecia typically away from margins (laminal), uncommon.
  • Thallus (vegetative body) characteristics: Thallus flat, blue-grey with rounded lobes; rhizines can be dense on underside of thallus.

Other

  • Growth form: Foliose lichen
  • Vegetative reproduction: Isidia on thallus surface, sometimes dense; soredia absent.
  • Comments: Associates: Peltigera species of lichen.

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 Salted Shell Lichen (Coccocarpia palmicola). 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 Coccocarpia palmicola 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 moist or mossy basalt or dolomite.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Salted Shell 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 Salted Shell 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.

Photos


Salted Shell Lichen  Photo.

Note the abundant isidia (small bumps) on the thallus surface. Also note the lack of apothecia. Both traits are characteristic of this lichen.

Photo © Troy McMullin.

Salted Shell Lichen  Photo.

The abundant isidia are visible as small bumps or projections across the upper surface of the thallus.

Photo © Samuel Brinker.


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: Tuesday, August 28, 2018
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