Cladonia evansii

One of the many highlights of our recent trip was a visit to the Ohoopee Dunes Natural Area near Swainsboro, Georgia, where Dr. Mincy Moffett gave us a tour of this uncommon ecosystem. The Ohoopee Dunes are the most extensive riverine sandhill formation in Georgia, and host a number of rare and threated animal and plant species.

One vignette of the tour was this location where Cladonia evansii, also known as powder-puff lichen or deer moss, was found in abundance. With its dense clusters of greyish-white round tufts, it looked like someone had assembled a collection of miniature tumbleweeds in the oak leaf litter (I think it’s bluejack oak, Quercus incana). While we all admired the amount of this lichen in this location, Alan Cressler has a photograph of an even denser stand from a different tract of the Ohoopee Dunes: Cladonia evansii.

In the USA, Cladonia evansii is found along the coastal plain of the eastern seaboard, ranging from Texas to at least North Carolina (and perhaps even further north — I can’t tell on the map I’ve used). It is also found in the Caribbean. Its habitat preference is partially shaded or open ground, typically in sandy areas. Additional images are available from Cladonia evansii and Cladonia evansii.

Cladonia evansii

8 responses to “Cladonia evansii”

  1. Ann Kent HTM

    Thank you, Daniel and Alan for these timely photos. My students and horticultural therapy clients are fascinated by lichen. We will really enjoy exploring these links in class tomorrow! Regards, Ann.

  2. Lee Foote

    Daniel and Alan – Thanks for this subtle but nice photograph. I was interested that this is called deer lichen. We are beginning a botanical/management research project on reindeer lichen (Cladina rangiferina and Cladina stellaris) at the Devonian Botanic Garden here in Alberta. I was surprised to learn of the high nutritive value and the degree to which these diminutive symbionts are sought out by boreal caribou. It made me speculate that white-tailed deer in the southeast may similarly seek them out. If this is the case, the burgeoning deer populations in the southeast may be reducing the occurrence of Cladina. Look into it won’t someone?
    Thanks again,
    Lee Foote

  3. Ron

    We have something very similar if not the same here in Southern Ohio.

  4. Felipe

    Incredible photo and incredible specie.

  5. phillip

    …and to think one of these subtle life forms could be a cure for cancer..

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    the above may also be found in north west florida
    fine picture the light is sunlight ?

  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Yes, sunlight in the late afternoon, heavily shaded in other parts by foliage.

  8. Cherries Walks

    Hah! I have been busy studying lichen just this week. Trying to figure out if Xanthoria parietina – orange lichen – has a predilection for growing on calcium rich rocks in the Alps.

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