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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Tuckermann's Coral Lichen - Sphaerophorus tuckermanii

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status


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State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Known from two locations in northwestern Montana.
General Description
Thallus fruticose, forming erect tufts to 10 cm in diameter; color white, light gray, or cream; branches round, solid, smooth; cortex shiny; soredia and isidia absent, though slender branchlets may function as propagules; apothecia terminal, spherical, bursting open irregularly and exposing a black spore mass (mazaedium); and spores globose, dark, 1-celled (McCune and Geiser 2009). Chemistry: Thallus UV+ blue white and medulla I+ brown or purple (McCune and Geiser 2009).

Diagnostic Characteristics
The perplexing morphological variation in form of the S. globosus complex, to which this species belongs, has created much confusion, including misapplication of S. tuckermanii to what is now S. venerabilis. Hognabba and Wedine (2003) demonstrated three distinct evoluntionary lines: S. globosus growing on the ground in arctic-alpine habitats and as an epiphyte in Europe; S. tuckermanii, a Pacific Northwest epiphyte with many coralloid branches; and S. venerabilis, a Pacific Northwest epiphyte with few coralloid branches (McCune and Geiser 2009).

Range Comments
Alaska to California with rare inland disjuncts to northern Idaho (McCune and Geiser 2009) and northwest Montana.

On conifer bark and wood in moist forests at low to mid elevations. In Montana it has been associated with old-growth trees.

Reproductive Characteristics
Reproduces sexually by spores from apothecia which are terminal on the branchlets.

Threats or Limiting Factors
None identified.

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Citation for data on this website:
Tuckermann's Coral Lichen — Sphaerophorus tuckermanii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from