Mar 8

Boreal felt lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum)

Species: Boreal felt lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The boreal felt lichen is known as the ‘panda bear’ of lichens because of its extreme rarity.

The boreal felt lichen is a ‘leafy’ species that grows on the branches and trunks of trees. When hydrated, it has a bluish-grey colour, but when dry it is darker grey-brown. The edges of this lichen typically curl up to expose whitish undersides.

The boreal lichen consists of two different organisms, a ‘mycobiont’ (a fungus) and a ‘phycobiont’ (a cyanobacterium – a bacterium that can photosynthesise), which live together in a symbiotic association.  The presence of the cyanobacteria makes the boreal felt lichen particularly sensitive to atmospheric pollution such as acid rain.

The boreal felt lichen was formerly known from Norway, Sweden, and Canada. Today, the species is thought to be restricted to two disjunct populations: a boreal population on Newfoundland, and a vastly depleted Atlantic population on Nova Scotia. The remaining populations are found in cool, moist, old-growth coniferous forests, and grow predominately on the trunks of balsam fir (Abies balsamea).

In addition to being highly sensitive to atmospheric pollutants such as acid rain, the boreal felt lichen is extremely vulnerable to habitat loss. Logging and air pollution have contributed towards a decline of more than 90% of the Atlantic population.

The Atlantic population of the boreal felt lichen is protected in Canada under the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), and is the focus of an ongoing recovery strategy. Crucially, efforts are being made, through land purchases and agreements with landowners, to formally protect areas of forest that are home to this rare species. Furthermore, conservationists are engaging with private and government forest managers to encourage their participation in the mapping of boreal felt lichen habitats and the implementation of management plans that will prevent further habitat loss.

Find out more about the boreal felt lichen at the Government of Canada Species at Risk Public Registry.

See images of the boreal felt lichen on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author.

Oct 26
Photo of Florida perforate reindeer lichen on sand

Florida perforate reindeer lichen (Cladonia perforata)

Species: Florida perforate reindeer lichen (Cladonia perforata)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The Florida perforate reindeer lichen is not known to reproduce sexually, instead spreading vegetatively when broken-off pieces of the lichen re-grow.

More information:

As its name suggests, the Florida perforate reindeer lichen is found only in Florida in the United States, where it occurs in three separate regions, each with a number of highly fragmented populations. Like other lichens, this species consists of two different organisms, a fungus and an alga, living in a close symbiotic relationship. The Florida perforate reindeer lichen grows in a complex branching pattern, with each branch measuring around four to six centimetres in length. The branches are smooth and yellowish- or greyish-green, and have conspicuous holes at the base. This species grows slowly, only branching once a year. The Florida perforate reindeer lichen grows on high sand dune ridges among Florida rosemary scrub, where it typically occurs in open patches of sand between the shrubs.

One of the main threats to the Florida perforate reindeer lichen is habitat loss due to development and land conversion. This species is also vulnerable to disturbances caused by fires and hurricanes, and can be trampled by people and by vehicles using sand dunes for recreation. In 1993, the Florida perforate reindeer lichen became the first lichen species to be placed on the U.S. Endangered Species List, meaning that all federal landowners with populations of this species are responsible for protecting and conserving it. In addition, Florida has an active conservation programme which monitors and conserves species such as this by acquiring and managing land. Several of this lichen’s populations are protected, and the species has been reintroduced to some locations. Further measures are needed to ensure that the Florida perforate reindeer lichen and its habitat are protected from trampling and unsuitable fire regimes.


Find out more about conservation in Florida at The Nature Conservancy – Florida and the Conservation Trust for Florida.

See more images of the Florida perforate reindeer lichen on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author


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