An Introduction

Hello! I am very excited to introduce myself. My name is Nick Moore. I am looking forward to sharing the world of Colorado Lichens and I hope to be a regular contributor to this wonderful site that has been built over the years.

So who am I, you might ask. I am someone who has always loved nature, who only recently decided to learn the ways of lichens, and has leapt headfirst into this new world. Hopefully those that stumble across these posts want to come along for the ride.

Why don’t we start with some of my favorite local species. These are some charismatic species that can be found on just about every hike through the lower foothills of Boulder County.

Rusavskia elegans – Anne U White Trail, Boulder CO. On Granite

By far the most common orange lichen on rock along the front range. Older references may refer to this species a Xanthoria elegans.

Pleopsidium flavum – Mount Sanitas, Boulder CO. On Granite

The answer to what’s that yellow on that rock over there along much of the front range. This lichen has an amazing need to be on vertical rock faces.

In a prelude to what I hope will be a future blogpost this species has been taxonomically unsettled in the state. So I would not be surprised to someday learn that this is the wrong name for this lichen or even that multiple species are involved. That day may come as soon as the right person reads this paragraph!

Dimelaena oreina – Mount Sanitas, Boulder CO. On Granite

Perhaps my favorite front range lichen. Once you learn it you will find it very common on sunny exposed rocks. But, unlike the previous species you will find is accompanied by a whole host of similar colored species. Identifying lichens is hard, observing them in all their beauty is easy.

Parmelia sulcata – Button Rock Preserve, Boulder CO

Start walking up your favorite foothill trail. When you get to a nice cool spot under the shade of a big conifer, look down into the tangle of moss and lichen at the roots of the tree. One of the lichens you find is sure to be this wonderful foliose lichen and you’ll soon find it on other substrates as well. Just be sure to note the raised web of white tissue forming what look like cracks (pseudocyphellae) characteristic of the genus. Keep searching and you will find that sulcata is not the only member of the genus present in Colorado.

I hope you enjoyed the post. Perhaps you noted that each photo here links to my iNaturalist observation for the lichen. I hope to have iNaturalist be a constant part of my posts here, and you can always see more of my photos by searching for @nickmoore91. I post everything from birds, insects, fungi and more. Feel free to reach out!

My CO Lichen Observations – Warning some non-lichenized ascomycete fungi show up in that search!

Welcome, 2022!

Changes are afoot here at Colorado Lichens. After long dormancy, we’ve relocated and cleaned up a bit, and the transition is mostly complete as of March 17. After five years’ absence from Colorado, I don’t know that I have much more to say about the lichens of that lovely state, and will actively seek an interested party to assume this domain and perhaps some of its content.

It looks as though everything is working properly, although you may stumble across missing images. If that happens, please let me know— I’ll have a contact form up soon for reporting issues and general comments.

ID Tips for Lichen Newcomers

How do you start figuring out lichens if you’re a novice, especially if you have no keys? With 85% of my books, including lichen ID materials, still in storage (long story), I’m thrown on the resources of the internet. Here are a few suggestions for exploring lichen basics (off-site links open in a new window):

Guide to British Lichens on Twigs, with picture key! Click to go to site.

Guide to British Lichens on Twigs, with picture key! Click to go to site.

There is an online lichen key from the UK for 60 British lichens on twigs (from the Natural History Museum at South Kensington); they also have a glossary of terms. To get started, choose whether the lichen is fruticose, foliose, or crustose. (See descriptions at our Shapes and Sizes page if you’re not sure.) You eventually get to a color photo of the lichen. If you get one or more results, don’t assume the species is right, but it might at least point you to a genus to check out. (I got a lot of “no results” on my searches, but I was just making up characters.)

You might try checking photos at Ways of Enlichenment, which does a good job of showing many species in each genus.

Steve Sharnoff offers some lichen basics at his website. He also has lots of photos available that may also be helpful, but this site is focused on North America. Some species, however, are widespread, and many genera are.

If you narrow it down to a few species, you can check whether they occur in your area at this database maintained by the Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria (CNALH). Their records include specimens from all over the world. If you go to their dynamic map and click on your area (and specify a radius to search), they will generate a checklist that you can also use as an interactive key. Very nice!!

Only the lichen portal at CNALH will give you a detailed description of important characters, but at least the others provide visual references.

Note: Also posted this on iNaturalist as a journal entry.