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 ForestryImages.org: Cladonia evansii and Sharnoffphotos.com: Cladonia evansii.