A wander in wintery, snowy woods when most plants lie dormant is an opportunity to focus on the beauty and diversity of lichens! Speckled greenshield or green speckleback (Flavopunctelia flaventior) is a "welcome splash of colour" that "will certainly catch your eye on your winter cross-country ski or snowshoe rambles" (Johnson et al. 1995, Vitt et al. 1988).
It's yellow-green colour, and large, circular patches (thalli) with surface soredia (powdery propagules) and pseudocyphellae (white spots) make it "unlikely to be confused with any other tree-dwelling lichen". It grows on the tree trunks and branches of aspen, poplar, birch, willow and conifers, especially spruce. It's ranked S4 (common) by ACIMS and is widespread across the southern Boreal Forest and northern Parkland; in fact the range map in Vitt et al. (1988) includes the entire province. The Genus name comes from the Latin flavens (yellow) and punctum (a point), referring to the yellowish lobes bearing many tiny pores.
Photo and text by Mari Decker
Vitt, D., J. Marsh and R. Bovey. 1988. Mosses, Lichens & Ferns of Northwest North America. Lone Pine Publishing.
Johnson, D., L. Kershaw, A. MacKinnon and J. Pojar. 1995. Plants of the Western Boreal Forest & Aspen Parkland. Lone Pine Publishing.
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