Niebla and Vermilacinia Communities

The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
October 2005

Niebla and Vermilacinia (Ramalinaceae) from California and Baja California.  
Spjut, R.W., 1996. ISSN 0833-1475, 208 pp.  
Sida, Botanical Miscellany 14. Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Inc.

Introduction to Niebla
Introduction to Vermilacinia

Looking north from above Punta Escarpada towards Punta San Carlos.



Mesa San Carlos.
Despite its proximity to the coast, this area receives little fog; thus, there is a lack of Niebla communities here.  Note tree cacti, Pachycereus pringlei.

Looking south from Mesa Santa Catarina to Mesa Camacho.

Above: General view of Pacific Coast of Baja California Norte near Punta Canoas.  Niebla communities are common along many mesas and thier slopes facing the sea.  Saxicolous Vermilacinia is also found on stones along beaches.  Corticolous species of Vermilacinia also occur here and further inland.  Left: Phytogeographic regions of Baja California  recognized by Spjut (1996).

Looking south along the Pacific Coast of Baja California from Mesa Camacho to Punta Blanco


Sand Niebla Community southeast of Puerto Catarina, primarily  Niebla arenaria.


Sand Niebla Community near Guerrero Negro, primarily Niebla limicola with vascular plants Atriplex julacea and Frankenia palmeri.  Photo by Prof. Dr. Gerhard Follmann

     Soils devoid of vascular plants such as alkaline beaches, arroyos and canyons near the coast are often found to have abundant Niebla arenaria with occasional N. josecuervoi.  North of Punta Baja, associated species include N. palmeri and N. pulchribarbara   South of Punta Baja, N. brachyura, may be found with N. arenaria such as near Punta Canoas.  Niebla limicola is common around beach areas near Guerrero Negro




Pebble Niebla-Vermilacinia Community near beach at Puerto Catarina with Vermilacinia paleoderma, N. flabellata,
N. undulata, N. podetiaforma
, and N. dilatata.



Pebble Niebla-Vermilacinia Community on slope above Punta Rocosa with Vermilacinia paleoderma, N. podetiaforma, N. flabellata, and
N. caespitosa



Gravel Niebla Community  on mesa between El Rosario and Campo Nuevo with low scrub of Euphorbia misera, Dudleya ingens, Echinocereus maritimus, Frankenia palmeri, Agave cerulata, and Mammillaria


     Gravel Niebla communities are common in the transition zone between coastal chaparral and desert scrub. Among the lichens, Niebla arenaria was dominant, followed by N. effusa, N. josecuervoi, and N. juncosa.  Occurring more on rocks, especially south of Punta Baja, were N. josecuervoi, N. podetiaforma, N. flabellata and N. undulata.  South of Campo Nuevo, the terricolous (sand and gravel) Nieblas become much less common, while pebble and boulder nieblas are more conspicuous along coastal beaches, on slopes and on mesas.



Boulder Niebla Community on slope facing sea above Punta Rocosa, predominantly with Niebla juncosa and N. josecuervoi.


Boulder Niebla Community on slope facing the sea above Puerta Catarina, predominantly with Niebla turgida and Vermilacinia paloederma.


Boulder Niebla Community on leeward slope south of Punta Negra.  All green in photo is Niebla spp.



Boulder Niebla Community: Northwest end of Mesa Camacho with Niebla siphonoloba





Mixed Niebla Communities on Mesa Camacho






Richard Spjut at edge of mesa inland from Mesa Camacho, and photographing lichens on Mesa Camacho.    Photos by Richard Marin




     Species rich Niebla communities were found on mesas, ridges, and peninsulas exposed to strong oceanic breezes.  Mesa Camacho, for example, included N. caespitosa, N. effusa, N. fimbriata, N. flabellata, N. flagelliforma, N. isidiaescens, N. josecuervoi, N. juncosa, N. lobulata, N. marinii, N. rugosa, N. siphonologa, N. sorocarpia, N. suffnessii, N. turgida, N. undulata, N. usneoides, and two undescribed species.  Vermilacinia included saxicolous V. vesiculosa and V. paleoderma, and corticolous V. cerebra, V. cephalota, V. leopardina, and V. nylanderi.  Other rare species just below the crest of the escarpment were N. homalea and N. tesselata.  In all, a total of 21 species of Niebla and six species of Vermilacinia were found on this mesa.  Lichens on a mesa just inland from Mesa Camacho were largely sekikaic-acid species, N. siphonoloboa, N. suffnessii, N. lobulata, N. sinuata (Spjut ined.), and N. tesselata.  A tripod and Nikon 60 mm lens were used for close-up photography.






Boulder Niebla Community on peak above Punta Rocosa would appear to receive considerable moisture from fog judging from the lush growth of Niebla spp. 

Niebla on red volcanic rocks of Mesa Santa Catarina.  Sekikaic-acid species of Niebla seem to prefer this type of rock.


Niebla on calcareous rocks in the Sierra Hornitos, Vizcaíno Peninsula.  Divaricatic-acid and salazinic-acid species of Niebla were found here along with Vermilacinia cedrosensis.


     Peaks and ridges subjected to strong oceanic winds as seen above Punta Rocosa were found to have novelty species N. infundibula, N. homaleoides, and Vermilacinia rigida.  Other associated boulder species included N. eburnea, N. effusa, N. josecuervoi, N. juncosa, N. marinii, N. podetiaforma, N. sorocarpia, N. undulata, N. turgida, and Vermilacinia paleoderma.

      On Mesa Santa Catarina the sharp contrast between soil type and the occurrence of Niebla is obvious in the above photo.  Reddish porous rock favored sekikaic-acid species such as N. suffnessii, N. lobulata, and N. siphonoloba.  The wetter oceanic slopes, which is not evident in the photo, had lots of N. turgida.  On the Vizcaíno Peninsula, a calcareous environment favored the occurrence of N. flabellata in association with N. spatulata, N. contorta, N. rugosa, Vermilacinia cedrosensis and V. paleoderma.  Common on bushes was Vermilacinia howei.

Vermilacinia, Dendrographa, Roccella, and Ramalina on branches of Fouquieria diguetii in Baja  California Sur near Puerto Cancun.  Species of Vermilacinia near the coast in this region were commonly V. tigrina, V. leonis, and V. corrugata.





Vermilacinia leopardina growing abundantly on Euphorbia misera in Baja California Norte.  This species is found primarily along the immediate coast in Baja California Norte (BCN), easily recognized by the black bands and subterminal apothecia.  The photo on the left appears to have young thalli in which apothecia have yet to develop.



Vermilacinia cerebra.
Away from the coast, other species of Vermilacinia appear.  Vermilacinia cerebra is recognized by the enlarged apical lobes in which apothecia and/or soralia appear to abort development.  It is often scattered on branches among other species of Vermilacinia, particularly V. corrugata.  In addition to the terpenoid chemistry of zeorin and hydroxykaurance, accessory depsidones are often present.

Vermilacinia corrugata.
This species is common inland on Fouquieria, distinguished by the corrugated thallus lobes lacking black bands, in contrast to V. leopardina.  When it is difficult to decide between these species, the absence of hydroxykaurane becomes the key character feature.  Towards the middle of the branch is one thallus of V. cephalota, recognized by the development of soralia

Vermilacinia howei
This species is common on the Vizcaíno Peninsula away from coastal environments.  It is generally deficient in lichen metabolites, zeorin usually present but often in trace amounts.  Cattle were noted to feed on this lichen, May 1986.



Vermilacinia nylanderi
This species is common on the Vizcaíno Peninsula near coastal environments.  Both V. howei and V. nylanderi show a reverse relationship to what is seen for V. leopardina and V. corrugata.  This would seem to indicate chemical differentiation of these species took place in Baja California at a time when the Vizcaíno Peninsula was isolated from the main peninsula.