What are the common alpine lichens found in the High Sierras of California? This handy six page guide just might answer that question. Jason and I made it for naturalists, alpine enthusiasts, and citizen scientists, with the hope that it will be helpful in field identification of common alpine lichen species or species groups. Rarity is indicated, so if anyone observes any of these rare lichens on a summit in the High Sierras, we encourage you to take a photo, a GPS location with elevation, and email us.

The guide is gleaned from 924 records of lichens found at four locations: Mt. Whitney, Kearsarge Pass, Bishop Pass, and Mt. Dana. These sites are all siliceous, above 11,700ft, and restricted to the summit or pass.

The sections have been split into two parts: lichens on rock and lichens on soil/moss/plant detritus (that’ll come later). Collection frequency is included to the right of each species and species group, however there was a collection bias to some of these ratings since we focused our attention on cryptic groups more so than common obvious species, so we’ve weighted these based upon our subjective observations.  An asterisk (*) denotes non-lichenized lichenicolous fungi (i.e. lichen parasites). Additionally, note that this guide is a working draft, if you notice any errors please do let us know.

Alpine lichens guide – High Sierras.pdf  (16.8mb)

Alpine lichen Dimelaena oreina, also known as Moon Glow Lichen. Ain’t she a beaut! Photo by Jason Hollinger.

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