Niebla podetiaforma

©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
April 2003, Oct. 2005, Sep 2012, Nov 2021

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.

Evolutionary history of coastal species of fog lichen genera
, Ramalina and Vermilacinia
Emmanuel Sérusiaux & Richard  Spjut
Baja California, Jan-Feb 2016

Spjut R, Simon A, Guissard M, Magain N, Sérusiaux E. 2020. The fruticose genera in the Ramalinaceae (Ascomycota, Lecanoromycetes): their diversity and evolutionary history.  MycoKeys. 73: 1–68, published online. MycoKeys. 2020;73:1-68. Published 2020 Sep 11. doi:10.3897/mycokeys.73.47287

Evolution and diversification of Niebla
Steve Leavitt et al., Baja California, Dec 2016

Jorna J, J Linde, P Searle, A Jackson, M-E Nielsen, M Nate, N Saxton, F Grewe, M de los Angeles Herrera-Campos, R Spjut, H Wu, B Ho, S Leavitt, T Lumbsch.  Species boundaries in the messy middle -- testing the hypothesis of micro-endemism in a recently diverged lineage of coastal fog desert lichen fungi. Ecology and Evolution. Published Online: 20 Dec 2021.

Additional Discussion: See: Introduction to Niebla and its phylogeography


San Antonio del Mar, near Punta Colonet. N 31°05.403', W 116°16.268', 92m, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17016. Jan 2016

SW of El Rosario, Punta Baja Rd, N 30°00.075, W 115°45.965', 140 m, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17081. Jan 2016

Punta Canoas, on gravel and small rocks, in a region dominated by alkaline soils, 140 m, Leavitt et al. 16-964, Dec 2016

North of Punta San Rosalillita, between Puerto San Andrés and Punta Rocosa, west off main road to Punta Negra; 28°42.948, 114°16.653, 50 m. Spjut & Sérusiaux 17112, Jan 2016

~ 2 km W of Punta Santa Rosalillita, south side of road; 28°40.572, 114°13.736, 35 m.  Northern Vizcaíno Desert, Coastal desert shrubs on level ground of pebble rocks with Niebla among scattered shrubs and small trees, Pachycormus, Fouquieria, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17319-4886, Feb 2016


Southwest of San Quintín in the Punta Mazo Reserve, on volcanic slopes of Volcan Sudoeste
Leavitt et al. 16-704, Dec 2016

Snip from draft ITS tree, divaricatic acid clades.  Color added to lineages, green = Chaparral Desert Transition, red = Northern Vizcaíno Desert, yellow = Southern Vizcaíno Desert

North of Punta San Rosalillita, between Puerto San Andrés and Punta Rocosa, west off main road to Punta Negra; 28°42.948, 114°16.653, 50 m. Northern Vizcaíno Desert, Succulent thorn shrubs and trees

with Idria, Pachycormus, Stenocereus, Cylindropuntia spp., Frankenia, Xylonagra. Spjut & Sérusiaux 17108



: Punta Morro Santo Domingo, ~40 km N of Guererro Negro; 28°15.269, 114°06.378, 40 m.      Coastal desert shrubs on dunes and volcanic rocks. Spjut & Sérusiaux 17280-4858

podetiaforma-10017A.jpg (126245 bytes)

Ridges south of El Marrón, N of Punta Rocosa, Spjut 10017A, May 1986

podetiaforma-11301.jpg (87298 bytes)

Occasional morph with strongly inflated branches, volcanic rocks on slopes N of Punta Canoas, Spjut 11301, Apr 1990

podetiaforma-12478.jpg (65530 bytes)niebla_podetiaforma_12748.jpg (76965 bytes)

Between Campo Nuevo and San Carlos, Spjut & Marin 12748, Mar 1993

niebla_podetiaforma_9937.jpg (124423 bytes)

Ridges south of El Marrón, 
N of Punta Rocosa, 
Spjut 9937, May 1986

niebla_podetiaforma_9942.jpg (58437 bytes)

Ridges south of El Marrón, 
N of Punta Rocosa, 
Spjut 9942, May 1986

niebla_podetiaforma_11291.jpg (107491 bytes)

Mesa Camacho,
Spjut 11291, Apr 1990

niebla_podetiaforma_11582.jpg (108135 bytes)

Bahía Santa María, Spjut & Marin 11582, Apr 1990

Between Campo Nuevo and San Carlos, Spjut & Marin 12757,
Mar 1993

niebla_podetiaforma_12681.jpg (213719 bytes)

Rare morph with flattened branches, Cañon San Vicente, Spjut & Marin 12681, Mar 1993

Near El Rosario, Spjut 10332, Mar 1988

Mesa Camacho N of Punta
Canoas, Spjut & Marin 13099, thallus on left, occurring with
N. turgida
on right

East Mesa of Mesa Camacho, SE of Puerto Catarina, Spjut & Marin 13110B

Near peak above Punta Rocosa, Spjut 10330,
Apr 1988. Thallus on far right is N. turgida, all others to the left are N. podetiaforma

Near Punta Baja
Spjut 10255, occurring
with N. josecuevoi, Mar 1988.

Map showing geographical distribution

     Niebla podetiaforma is a species of fruticose lichen endemic to the Northern Vizcaíno Desert of Baja California where it is one of the most common pebble species of Niebla, usually occurring on leeward slopes, ridges, and beach areas. Further away from the coast—as Niebla communities thin out, it appears to be the only species of a Niebla community.

     Niebla podetiaforma is easily identified by yellowish green inflated basal branches, generally in small clumps of <20, either simple or more often with secondary branching along the upper side of a primary arching branch.  It is distinguished from N. undulata by the transverse ridging near apex, and by the fringed branchlets that bear apothecia, often one to a branchlet, which may sharply curve upwards for a short distance from where apothecia develop.  The epithet was chosen for the inflated primary branches that resemble podetia of the genus Cladonia

   A variant with notably inflated lobes (Spjut 11301) is associated with other less inflated forms (Spjut & Marin 12478, Spjut 9937) by the pattern of the transversely reticulated cortex. Another variant with strongly flattened branches (Spjut & Marin 12681) still exhibits the characteristic inflated branch near the holdfast and the transversely oriented cortical ridges near apex. These and other variants often occur in a single dominant community of N. podetiaforma

    As indicated above Niebla undulata is similar to N. podetiaforma by the small tufts of less than 20 partially inflated branches arising from a pigmented holdfast.  One does not actually need to count the branches; rather, this number is generally provided as a guide in contrast to another related species, N. turgida, that differs by its larger size and more acutely prismatic long narrow branchlets.  Niebla undulata is usually distinguished by its cortex appearing smooth and/or recessed between the branch margins, the color often bluish-green. Its branches are usually undulate to below the mid region, and apothecia often appear along the undulate margins (submarginal).  Intermediates such as shown from near El Rosario (Spjut 10332) are referred to N. podetiaforma by the long narrow branchlets, in contrast to the lobulate margins of N. undulata.

     Two other similar species, N. rugosa and N. siphonoloba, are distinguished by the differences in cortical ridge patterns.  Niebla rugosa has sharply angled margins, often 3-angled in x-sect., with prominent transverse ridges in a ladder-like arrangement connecting the longitudinal marginal ridges, whereas N. siphonoloba (sekikaic acid) differs slightly by the tubular prismatic branches partial 3-angled lobes with the cortical ridges between the margins partially reticulate.

     Further south on the Vizcaíno Peninsula and on Isla Santa Margarita one encounters Niebla contorta.  It shares features with N. undulata in the recessed area (areoles) between the cortical ridges and submarginal development of apothecia.  It differs by the relatively straight branches near base that bear apothecia on upper undulating lobes, often in aggregates.

    Niebla podetiaforma was first recognized in May 1985  in collecting samples of lichens for anti-HIV screening (Spjut & Marin 9077), while also collecting Vermilacinia cephalota (Spjut & Marin 9076) from leeward rocky slopes above Rancho San Andrés.  A TLC analysis of  more than 20 thalli of Spjut & Marin 9077 proved consistent in its lichen metabolites of divaricatic acid with triterpenes and basal pigment (skyrin), duplicates of which were later submitted to the Lichen Exchange at ASU.  This variant is similar to that shown for Spjut 9942, collected from a nearby slope in May 1986.  

     Statistical delimitation analyses of genomic data (Spjut et al. 2020, S5) indicate N. podetiaforma may be associated with four different species (BPP) or just one species (Stacey).  The type was collected on remote coastal ridges between Punta Rocosa and Punta Negra. Spjut & Sérusiaux 17108, collected between  Punta Santa Rosalillita and Punta Rocosa, comes closest to the type locality, and morphologically is similar to the type specimen; however, different extracts from the same packet showed differences in the ITS phylogenetic tree by a single mutation in Group 18 in the above phylogenetic tree.  The same occurs for another species, N. rugosa (identified only by morphology "cf") in Groups 16 and 17, 17163A (probably N. contorta) and 17163B showed a difference of 4 mutations for a single collection  on the Vizcaíno Peninsula near Cerro Elephante.  Phylogenetic trees in Jorna et al. (2021) showed N. podetiaforma unresolved in a micro-clade with N. undulata. These studies, however, did not evaluate cryptic species, which are common in Niebla, and which have contributed to the lack of species resolution.  Morphological differences probably need to be included with the DNA data to more accurately delimit species boundaries. 

Additional References: See Niebla