Endocarpon pusillum (hedwig)

Endocarpon pusillum is an unusual lichen, because the algal component is not only found in the vegetative body, but also in the spore-forming fruiting body. This means it can be dispersed along with the fungal partner.

Endocarpon pusillum

The lichen species Endocarpon pusillum grows on soils and forms squamules up to about 4mm. © C Gueidan

This characteristic probably helps the lichen colonise otherwise bare substrates.

The species often grows in areas where land is grazed by farm animals. As agricultural practices have changed, however, the lichen has become less common and may even be extinct in the UK.

Species detail

  • Endocarpon pusillum
    Taxonomy

    Find out how to recognise Endocarpon pusillum.

  • Typical grassland habitat of Endocarpon pusillum
    Distribution

    Endocarpon pusillum is found worldwide, in arid and cool to temperate regions. It colonises bare soils and contributes to soil conservation. Find out more.

  • Endocarpon pusillum
    Biology

    A lichen is two distinct organisms - a fungus and an alga - living symbiotically. Find out where the algae live and how this long-term partnership benefits both species.

  • Grazing animals - sheep
    Conservation

    Changes in farming practices have led to the decline of Endocarpon pusillum. Find out why.

  • Endocarpon pusillum
    References

    Get more information on Endocarpon pusillum.

Images

Bare landscape and horizon

A typical landscape habitat for Endocarpon pusillum.

© A Wolff - CEEP
Endocarpon pusillum

Biotic soil crust formed of Endocarpon pusillum, cyanobacteria (Nostoc) and mosses.

© C Gueidan
Endocarpon pusillum

Squamule of Endocarpon pusillum with several fruiting bodies.

© C Gueidan
Endocarpon pusillum

Endocarpon pusillum.

About the author
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Researching lichen systematics, evolution, symbiosis and photobionts.

Author's quote

"This species seems to have become rare in the UK, most probably because of habitat loss. Historically, Endocarpon pusillum has been used in many experiments on lichen development. Conservation measures are necessary to protect this biologically-interesting lichen species."

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Glossary
Asci

Plural of ascus - sexual spore-bearing cells.

Muriform

Regular, brick wall-like arrangement.

Perithecium

Bottle-shaped fruiting body.

Rhizines

Hairlike growths that bind the thallus to its substrate.

Squamules

A small, loosely attached thallus lobe - vegetative structure.

Symbiotic

Close and long-term interaction between two different species.

Thallus

Vegetative body.