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Eastern Candlewax Lichen (Ahtiana aurescens)

Life history

Species overview

Eastern Candlewax Lichen (Ahtiana aurescens), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found on bark in a variety of northern forests, from spruce bogs to stands of old growth hardwoods.. . This species can be identified year-round.

Synonyms: Cetraria aurecscens, Tuckermannopsis aurescens


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Hanging fringed lichen is similar to yellow ribbon lichen (Allocetraria oakesiana) but does not have soredia along the thallus margins.
  • Flower characteristics:
  • Fruit characteristics: Apothecia have maroon to brown flat or concave discs and occur mostly along the lobe margins.
  • Leaf characteristics: Thallus greenish-white or grey with shallow round lobes that are often wavy or wrinkled; thallus underside whitish to light brown; rhizines short.


  • Blooming phenology:
  • Fruiting phenology:
  • Optimum time to identify: This species can be identified year-round


  • Growth form: Foliose lichen
  • Vegetative reproduction: Soredia and isidia absent
  • Life cycle:
  • Comments: Black spruce (Piceae mariana), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), basswood (Tilia americana), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), white cedar (Thuja occidentalis)

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 Eastern Candlewax Lichen (Ahtiana aurescens). 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 Ahtiana aurescens in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankSH
Global RankG3G5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is 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

  • Habitat description: Found on bark in a variety of northern forests, from spruce bogs to stands of old growth hardwoods..
  • Soils:

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Eastern Candlewax 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 Eastern Candlewax Lichen. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

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.


Eastern Candlewax Lichen  Photo.

The abundant red-brown apothecia discs of hanging fringed lichen. This species does not have vegetative reproductive structures like soredia or isidia.

Photo © Samuel Brinker.

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

Last revised: Tuesday, May 19, 2020
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