Peltula nr. richardsii

Peltula lichen photo © by Michael Plagens

This lichen was observed in February 2010 growing upon the soil surface in the Deem Hills, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

The red elipses on this soil encrusting lichen are apothecia (fruiting bodies) where the ascospores develop and are later shed. Pigments and dyes have long been extracted from lichens.

Soil Crusts in the Sonoran Desert form one of the more important components of the desert biome. Three of their most important roles are to stabilize the soil against erosion, adding organic matter to and breaking down mineral soils, and fixation of atmospheric nitrogen into forms usable by other plants. In addition many are just beautiful to look at!

Peltulaceae -- A Lichinales Fungi

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 4 March 2010