Lichens of Ventura County

22 September 2005; updated on 11 January 2015

Lichens are a unique and very interesting form of "plant" life, actually a combination of lichenizing fungi and an algal photobiont. Lichens come in three basic forms: crustose (like a crust), foliose (leaf-like), and fruticose (shrub-like, but in miniature).   Taxonomy of lichens is very interesting, based primarily on the types of chemical compounds form by the lichen, mostly acids.   Identification for many species requires chemical tests and examination of tiny spores, making field identification next to impossible for many species, particularly the crustose species.

Below are some information and photographs of various lichens, almost all unidentified at this point, that occur within Ventura County. They range in color wildly, and contribute to the biodiversity of Ventura County.   Eventually, I will have the names posted with each photograph.   Some photos will have more than one lichen species, so look carefully.

While the lichen flora of Ventura County has yet to be researched or written, based on currently available information, the following species of lichens are rare in Ventura County: Acarospora thelococcoides, Caloplaca chrysophthalma, Caloplaca epithallina, Caloplaca invadens, Caloplaca luteominia var. bolanderi, Caloplaca supyracella, Endocarpon subnitescens, Parmotrema austrosinense, Pertusaria flavicunda, Phaeophyscia kairamoi, Phaeophyscia sciastra, Protoparmelia badia, Punctelia punctilla, Ramalina fraxinea, Teloschistes flavicans, Teloschistes santi-jacobi, Vermilacinia [Niebla] ceruchoides, and Xanthoparmelia angustiphylla.

A list of lichens that have been collected from the Santa Monica Mountains, in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, can be viewed here and is based on Kerry Knudsen's recent work. The Santa Monica Mountains, in both Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, occupies approximately 216,000 acres (57,450 hectares), and trends on an east-west axis. The Santa Monica Mountains is part of the Western Transverse Ranges ecological region.

I developed an annotated checklist of lichens of Ventura County.   See if you can add to this list.   I am sure there are many more species to be found and documented.

All photos copyrighted by David L. Magney 2003-2013

Crustose Lichen Photos [under construction]
Foliose Lichen Photos [under construction]
Fruticose Lichen Photos [under construction]
Lichen Photos from Elsewhere [under construction]

Location Map of Santa Monica Mountains

Selected Lichens of the Santa Monica Mountains, near Deals Flat

Name these lichens, please.

At least three crustose and one foliose lichens on a conglomerate boulder in the midst of Chamise Chaparral, representing saxicolous (rock substrate) species.

Look closely and a chocolate-brown crustose lichen (Acarospora sp.) can be seen around the pale green foliose lichen (Xanthoparmelia cf cumberlandia).

Closer view of Xanthoparmelia cf cumberlandia (foliose) lichen and the chartruse Acarospora socialis crust. The gray lichen is a species of Aspicilia.

The gray crustose lichen with a distinct black edge is a species of Aspicilia.

Closer view of the Aspicilia.

Another lichen-covered boulder with Xanthoparmelia, the Aspicilia species, and a moss.

Terricolous (soil substrate) crustose lichens protected by boulders.

Looking closely finds two terricolous (soil substrate) species visible, probably Trapelia involuta (the white one) and a Placidium or Endocarpum (the dark brown one).

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