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Brief Summary

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“Rock tripe”, genusUmbilicaria, is an edible lichen. There are 65 species of rock tripe, found in rocky or mountainous environments worldwide, especially where other organisms are scarce. The common rock tripe, scientific nameUmbilicaria mammulata, grows on shaded rocks in the forests of eastern North America. The genus name Umbilicaria refers to the lichen’s single attachment point in the middle, like a navel. The species name mammulata, literally means small breasted but is more accurately translated as bumpy, describing the papillae or bumps on the black lower side of the lichen. The common name in French is “tripe-de-roche”, the exact translation of the English. It was eaten as survival food by French Canadian settlers, and traditionally boiled in soups by the Cree and other Native Canadians.

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Mary Sears, Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard
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One Species at a Time Podcast

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Most of us walk past lichen-covered rocks, splotched with grays, greens, and golds, without giving them a closer look. Ari Daniel Shapiro visits with mycologist Anne Pringle and graudate student Benjamin Wolfe to learn about these amazing symbiotic organisms, formed when a fungus partners with an algae. Each lichen can host an entire microcosm, a microbial landscape teeming with life. These worlds-within-worlds are proving an invaluable tool for scientists studying our changing landscapes.

Listen to the podcast, meet the featured scientists and find intriguing extras on the Learning + Education section of EOL.

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Diagnostic Description

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UPPER SURFACE: 4-15(-30) cm, smooth, dull, grayish to brownish
LOWER SURFACE: black, covered with dense black rhizines
CHEMISTRY: medulla C+ and KC+ red

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Jason Hollinger
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Distribution

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Common in eastern North America, is it elsewhere in the world, too? I know there is a similar species in Japan, U. esculenta (sold as iwatake in markets, though apparently hard to find nowadays according to Japanese friends).

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General Description

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Common Name: Rock Tripe

Large grayish to brownish (greenish when wet) umbilicate lichen with black densely rhizinate lower surface. Will cover shaded rocks in deciduous forests in eastern North America, looking like someone has pasted withered old gray/blackened orange peels all over the rock.

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Habitat

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On boulders and cliffs in deciduous forests, or near lakeshores.

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Jason Hollinger
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Look Alikes

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Nothing comes close.

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Uses

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If boiled sufficiently, apparently this becomes edible. I found it very reminiscent of shoe leather, personally. But it’s listed in wilderness survival handbooks all the time as a good source of protein.

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Umbilicaria mammulata

provided by wikipedia EN

Umbilicaria mammulata, or Smooth Rock Tripe, is a foliose lichen found on boulders and rock walls.[1][2]

Appearance

U. mammulata is among the largest lichens in the world. The thallus of U. mammulata is usually 4 to 15 centimeters in diameter, but specimens have been known to reach 63-centimetre (2.07 ft) in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.[2] The smooth upper surface is a reddish-brown to grayish-brown color and the lower surface is pitch black.

Ecology

This species is found on boulders and steep rock walls in forests and around lakes. It grows on several types of rock substrate, such as acid rock, sandstone, quartz, and granitic rock.[3] Like most lichens, U. mammulata is sensitive to air and water quality. If conditions are optimal, seeing rocks or cliffs covered in dinner plate sized thalli is not unusual.[2] However, it has been suggested that U. mammulata is not as sensitive to pH and water quality as it is to the frequency and duration of precipitation.[4]

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References

  1. ^ Walewski, Joe (2007). Lichens of the North Woods. City: Kollath-Stensaas. ISBN 978-0-9792006-0-1.
  2. ^ a b c Brodo, Irwin (2001). Lichens of North America. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-08249-4.
  3. ^ Wisconsin State Herbarium, "Wisconsin Vascular Plants: Details Page." http://www.botany.wisc.edu/Wislichens/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=UMBMAM (accessed Dec 19, 2008).
  4. ^ Bailey, Christine; D.W. Larson (1982). "Water Quality and pH Effects on Umbilicaria mammulata (Ach.) Tuck". American Bryological and Lichenological Society. American Bryological and Lichenological Society. 85 (4): 431–437. JSTOR 3242913.
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Umbilicaria mammulata: Brief Summary

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Umbilicaria mammulata, or Smooth Rock Tripe, is a foliose lichen found on boulders and rock walls.

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