Overview

Brief Summary

Description

 Thallus: pendent, flaccid except at the base, 20-40 (-80) cm long, with a persistent base; branching: mainly isotomic dichotomous, frequent from the base, axils acute or obtuse, often rounded; branches: terete often becoming compressed and angular to foveolate towards the base and at the axils, 0.5-2.0 (-2.5) mm diam.; surface: greenish gray to bright golden yellow, sometimes becoming striately blackened in parts; lateral spinules: absent; soredia: in irregularly tuberculate soralia, rare in North American material; pseudocyphellae: white, abundant, conspicuous, raised, elongate fusiform to ovoid and tuberculate, clearly delimited, usually c. 1 mm long; Apothecia: often abundant, lateral; thalline exciple: concolorous with thallus, usually persistent; disc: orange-yellow to dark brown or black, 2-3 (-5) mm in diam.,; asci: clavate-ovoid, 2-3 (-4)-spored; ascospores: ellipsoid, simple, 23-35 (-48) x (12-) 15-20 (-25) µm; Pycnidia: sometimes frequent, mainly apical, up to c. 2.0 mm diam., black and shining; conidia: not seen; Spot tests: cortex K-, C-, KC+ yellow, P-, UV- (sometimes K+ red, C+ green-black near the base); medulla K- (rarely K+ yellow), C- or slowly becoming yellow, KC+ red or KC-, P- (rarely P+ yellow), UV+ ice-blue or UV-; Secondary metabolites: cortex with usnic acid, and occasionally an unidentified K+ red, C+ green-black substance; medulla usually with alectoronic acid (major), thamnolic, squamatic and barbatic acids (all accessory) but a common chemotype lacks all secondary metabolites except usnic acid.; Substrate and ecology: on a variety of conifers, particularly in moist, lowland forests along the west coast, less often inland; World distribution: central and northern Europe, North America and South America (Patagonia); Sonoran distribution: probably extinct, reported from collections in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California in 1929. 
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Source: Lichen Flora of the Greater Sonoran Desert Region

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Known from three continents: North America, Europe and South America. In North America, Alectoria sarmentosa is found along the northeastern and western portions of North America but absent through the central and southern portions of the continent. In the east, it ranges from Newfoundland and Labrador south to Vermont and New Hamphsire. In the west, it ranges from Alaska south along the coast to British Columbia, occuring throughout much of the province, and further south through the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest and into northern California (Brodo et al. 2001).

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Alectoria sarmentosa is the most common of the tree-dwelling species, but another species A. vancouverensis, is coarser and somewhat grayer species from California to Vancouver Island. A. fallacina is known from the Appalachians and is knobby, mainly KC-, with a very thick cortex (Brodo et al. 2001).

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Alectoria sarmentosa is often found draping conifer branches and trunks in cool, coastal areas and some moist inland sites (Brodo et al. 2001). It is associated with older forests and those recognized as 'old-growth', and toward the eastern portion of its range in the Pacific Northwest, it is restricted to moist, old-growth forests (McCune and Geiser 2009). In terms of its placement in the forest canopy, and specifically in British Columbia, it can be found hanging in the lower canopy below other lichen species (Coxson and Coyle 2003).

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General Ecology

Alectoria sarmentosa is forage for deer, woodland caribou and flying squirrels. It is the major source of forage in the Blue River watershed in western Oregon, and is considered old-growth associated in this area (Berryman and McCune 2006).

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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Persistence: PERENNIAL, Long-lived

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Reproduction

Alectoria species reproduce via formation of apothecuia which are brown and found scattered throughout the loose and cottony medulla. The apothecia are the structures that contain and release the spores, which are dispersed via wind. Alectoria also reproduce vegetatively as well, and this occurs when portions of the lichen break off and reestablish in another location (Brodo et al. 2001).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Known from three continents; occurs in North America, Patagonia in South America, and central and northern Europe (Brodo et al. 2001, Nash et al. 2002). Alectoria sarmentosa is reportedly common on trees in the boreal and mountainous regions of North America (Flenniken 1999). In western North America, it is more common in moist lowland forests along the coast and occurs less often inland (Nash et al. 2002).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Comments: Epiphytic lichens, such as Alectoria sarmentosa, are good indicators of air quality (Berryman and McCune 2006). In British Columbia, it has been reintroduced after timber harvest to improve deer habitat in second-growth forests, as it is a food source for deer. It is also used by the Bella Coola Indians of coastal British Columbia as artificial hair on dance masks. The Nitinaht, another tribal group on Vancouver Island, use it for making bandages and diapers (Brodo et al. 2001).

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Wikipedia

Alectoria sarmentosa

Alectoria sarmentosa is a long-lived, perennial lichen. It is also sometimes classified as a fungus. It is a light greenish colored and fructicose or bushy bodied. This epiphytic lichen belonging to the Alectoriaceae family and the suborder Lecanorineae, which includes six similar species.[1] A. sarmentosa grows draped or strung over conifer tree limbs and deciduous shrub branches in Northern temperate rainforest. This lichen favors mature and old growth, wet conifer and hardwood forests with clean air.[2] A. sarmentosa is sensitive to air pollution and used for air quality monitoring.[3] Areas required by A. sarmentosa are found in northern and southern temperate zones and receive high rainfall.[4] This lichen is commonly found in transitional areas between valley and mountainous forests, but usually avoiding the immediate coast.

The common name for A. sarmentosa is witch’s hair lichen. This common name is used for most Alectoria species. A similar-looking species commonly confused with A. sarmentosa is Usnea longissima. These lichens are similar in color and growth patterns but A. sarmentosa lacks a central chord that characterizes the genus Usnea.[5][6]

Description[edit]

The thalli, or body, of Alectoria sarmentosa are fruticose, stringy, and extensively branched. Each branch usually divides into two to four sections. The thicker branches are typically greater than 2.5 mm in diameter.[7] This Lichen is an epiphyte which means it has no roots. It depends on deriving its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain.[8] Color varies between species of Alectoria. A. sarmentosa has been recorded varying in color from grayish green to yellowish green,[9][10] occasionally blackening towards the ends,[11] with small white raised ridges on surface.[12]The thalli of A. sarmentosa form extensive mats up to 10–30 cm long.[13][14] These mats hang down in a pendulous fashion. Some mats can form dense collections that create curtain like formations. A. sarmentosa are prone to fragmentation by wind.[15]

Reproduction[edit]

Reproduction in most other lichens is usually by tiny saucer-like fruiting bodies called apothecia.[16][17] These bodies are relatively not seen in Alectoria species. Alectoria means ‘unmarried,’ referring to this lack of these apothecia reproduction fruiting bodies. Since it lacks these reproduction fruiting bodies, A. sarmentosa uses asexual plant propagation, when bits of it are blown off a branch and land on another branch or the same or near by conifer or shrub.

Habitat[edit]

Alectoria sarmentosa ranges throughout northern hemisphere temperate rainforests. These rainforests are located in the temperate zone and receive high rainfall. They receive 846mm (minimum) to 5,600mm (maximum) annual precipitation.[18] Alectoria Ach. species and subspecies have a global range and are found in Pacific Northwest Coast forests, including Alaska, Coastal British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, and northern California, west of Alberta and Montana. It also has been identified in the Appalachian Mountains temperate rainforest of Eastern U.S. and Boreal rainforests of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Canada, as well as Scandinavian coastal conifer forests. It is common in boreal or taiga forests and prehumid rainforests. Usually found at transitions between valley and mountain forests, low to mid elevations. Avoiding the immediate coast.

Alectoria sarmentosa is commonly associated with old growth forests in these regions.[19] This lichen is very dependent on forest structure (Canopy height cover and composition), edge characteristics and climate.[20] It dominates canopy gaps edges, where sunlight reaches the lower to mid levels of the forest canopy.[21][22] In these areas of old growth A. sarmentosa grows on bark and wood; found pendulously draped over branches of conifer trees, hardwood trees and deciduous shrubs. It is rarely found growing on rock or mosses over rock. It is sSometimes seen on ground due to fragmentation by wind.

Similar species[edit]

Species of Alectoria include Alectoria fallacina, Alectoria imshaugii, Alectoria lata; Alectoria nigricans, Alectoria ochroleuca and Alectoria vancouvernsis.[23] The common name Witch’s Hair Lichen also applies to these Alectoria species. Another species that is superficially similar and mistaken as A. sarmentosa is various Usnea. Usnea longissima differs as it has a central chord which A. sarmentosa lacks [24]

Uses[edit]

Alectoria sarmentosa and similar species provide reasonably good nutrition to animals and are important winter browsing vegetation. Sitka black tailed deer and Caribou eat the lichen reachable, low branches or off of the ground when it is blown down onto the snow during winter storms.[25] Flying squirrels are also known to make use of Alectoria Sarmentosa and other lichens in their diet and as nest material.[26]

Many indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and the Nuxalk people of Canada used the fibers of Alectoria lichens.[27] These fibers were especially useful for making baby diapers and bandages.[28] They used the fibers as aesthetic false whiskers and hair for decorating dance masks. Some interior Alaskan and Canadian people wove ponchos and footwear using fibers of Alectoria sarmentosa. This type of clothing was inferior to hides.[29]

Lichen use for monitoring air quality[edit]

Alectoria sarmentosa, among other lichens can be used to monitor air quality.[30] When these lichens are exposed to they accumulate unavoidable pollutants because they lack deciduous parts. Because most lichens are epiphytes, which do not have roots, they do not have access to soil nutrients and draw their needed nutrients from deposition, water seeping over substrate surfaces, atmospheric and other dilute source. Therefore the lichens mirror the accumulation of the pollutions in the air. A. sarmentosa is frequently collected for tissue element analysis as it is a sensitive tool for detection of changes in air quality.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Classification of Alectoria Ach. | USDA PLANTS." Plant Database and Classification | USDA PLANTS. United States Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  2. ^ McCune, Bruce, Linda Geiser, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, Stephen Sharnoff, and Alexander G. Mikulin. Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State UP, 1997. Print.
  3. ^ McCune, Bruce, Linda Geiser, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, Stephen Sharnoff, and Alexander G. Mikulin. Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State UP, 1997. Print.
  4. ^ "Witch's Hair · University of Puget Sound." University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History. University of Puget Sound, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  5. ^ Pojar, Jim, A. MacKinnon, and Paul B. Alaback. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Pub., 1994. Print.
  6. ^ "Witch's Hair · University of Puget Sound." University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History. University of Puget Sound, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  7. ^ McCune, Bruce, Linda Geiser, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, Stephen Sharnoff, and Alexander G. Mikulin. Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State UP, 1997. Print.
  8. ^ McCune, Bruce, Linda Geiser, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, Stephen Sharnoff, and Alexander G. Mikulin. Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State UP, 1997. Print.
  9. ^ McCune, Bruce, Linda Geiser, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, Stephen Sharnoff, and Alexander G. Mikulin. Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State UP, 1997. Print.
  10. ^ Pojar, Jim, A. MacKinnon, and Paul B. Alaback. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Pub., 1994. Print.
  11. ^ McCune, Bruce, Linda Geiser, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, Stephen Sharnoff, and Alexander G. Mikulin. Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State UP, 1997. Print.
  12. ^ Pojar, Jim, A. MacKinnon, and Paul B. Alaback. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Pub., 1994. Print.
  13. ^ Pojar, Jim, A. MacKinnon, and Paul B. Alaback. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Pub., 1994. Print.
  14. ^ Hale, Mason E. How to Know the Lichens. Dubuque, IA: W.C. Brown, 1969. Print.
  15. ^ Esseen, Per-Anders. "Edge Influence on the Old-Growth Forest Indicator Lichen Alectoria sarmentosa in Natural Ecotones." Journal of Vegetation Science 2006: 185. JSTOR Journals. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
  16. ^ Pojar, Jim, A. MacKinnon, and Paul B. Alaback. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Pub., 1994. Print.
  17. ^ "Witch's Hair · University of Puget Sound." University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History. University of Puget Sound, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  18. ^ DellaSala, Dominick A. Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World: Ecology and Conservation. Washington, DC: Island, 2011. Print.
  19. ^ McCune, Bruce, Linda Geiser, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, Stephen Sharnoff, and Alexander G. Mikulin. Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State UP, 1997. Print.
  20. ^ Esseen, Per-Anders. "Edge Influence on the Old-Growth Forest Indicator Lichen Alectoria sarmentosa in Natural Ecotones." Journal of Vegetation Science 2006: 185. JSTOR Journals. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
  21. ^ Esseen, Per-Anders. "Edge Influence on the Old-Growth Forest Indicator Lichen Alectoria sarmentosa in Natural Ecotones." Journal of Vegetation Science 2006: 185. JSTOR Journals. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
  22. ^ "Witch's Hair · University of Puget Sound." University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History. University of Puget Sound, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  23. ^ "Classification of Alectoria Ach. | USDA PLANTS." Plant Database and Classification | USDA PLANTS. United States Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  24. ^ Pojar, Jim, A. MacKinnon, and Paul B. Alaback. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Pub., 1994. Print.
  25. ^ "Witch's Hair · University of Puget Sound." University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History. University of Puget Sound, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  26. ^ "Witch's Hair · University of Puget Sound." University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History. University of Puget Sound, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  27. ^ Pojar, Jim, A. MacKinnon, and Paul B. Alaback. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Pub., 1994. Print.
  28. ^ "Witch's Hair · University of Puget Sound." University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History. University of Puget Sound, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  29. ^ Pojar, Jim, A. MacKinnon, and Paul B. Alaback. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Pub., 1994. Print.
  30. ^ United States Department of Agriculture. Lichens of the National Forests in Alaska. N.p.: United States Department of Agriculture, 2006. Print.
  31. ^ McCune, Bruce, Linda Geiser, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, Stephen Sharnoff, and Alexander G. Mikulin. Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State UP, 1997. Print.
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