Niebla siphonoloba

©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
April 2003, Oct. 2005, Sep 2012, Dec 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
Niebla, Ramalina and Vermilacinia

Emmanuel Sérusiaux & Richard  Spjut
Baja California, Jan-Feb 2016

Spjut R, Simon A, Guissard M, Magain N, Sérusiaux E. The fruticose genera in the Ramalinaceae (Ascomycota, Lecanoromycetes): their diversity and evolutionary history.  MycoKeys. 2020 Oct 30;74:109-110].
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



ITS phylogenies showing N. siphonoloba in sister or related clades. Left: Draft ITS from Professor  Sérusiaux for Spjut et al. (2020). Right: Draft of combined phylogenies from Professor Leavitt"s for his collections from Baja California used for Jorna et al. (2021).


Vizcaíno Peninsula, south of  Arroyo San Andrés near Cerro Elephante, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17147, vicinity of type locality

Vizcaíno Peninsula, south of  Arroyo San Andrés near Cerro Elephante, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17154, vicinity of type locality

NE of Punta Colonet, along road to Bella Vista, on North facing Agave-dominated hillside, Leavitt et al. 16-1144, Dec 2016

West of San Telmo, along road to Punta San Telmo, on cacti-dominated hillside,  Leavitt et al. 16-1095, Dec 2016


Niebla aff. palmeri
Mesa above (E of) San Antonio
del Mar, 52 m, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17002

siphonoloba-10561.jpg (160198 bytes)

Vizcaíno Peninsula, Arroyo San Andrés, type locality Spjut & Marin 10561, Apr 1989

siphonoloba-13077.jpg (100220 bytes)

Mesa Camacho N of Punta Canoas, Spjut & Marin 13077, Apr 1994

siphonoloba-9328C.jpg (41791 bytes)

Bahía Falsa near San Quintín,
Spjut 9328C, May 1986

siphonoloba-9594-isotype.jpg (68391 bytes)

Vizcaíno Peninsula, above Arroyo San Andrés, Spjut 9594, type, May 1986

siphonoloba--9636.jpg (47648 bytes)

Vizcaíno Peninsula, Sierra
Morro Hermoso,
Spjut 9636, May 1986

    Mesa between Punta
 Canoas and Puerta
Catarina, Spjut &
    Marin 13124
, Apr 1994, 
    sekikaic acid (TLC Jun 1994, Mar 1995)

Bahía Santa María,
Spjut 11560

Bahía Santa María,
Spjut 11561

Arroyo Sauces,
Spjut & Marin 11440

Mesa Camacho,
Spjut 13080


Geographical occurrences

Illustration of TLC data
for Niebla spp

sinuata-13114.jpg (151375 bytes)

Niebla sinuata Spjut ined.,
Spjut & Marin 13114,
Mesa Camacho, S of
Puerto Catarina, Apr 1994

sinuata-13115.jpg (124477 bytes)

Niebla sinuata,
Spjut & Marin 13115,
Mesa Camacho, Apr 1994

sinuata-13120.jpg (176384 bytes)

Niebla sinuata,
Spjut & Marin 13120,
Mesa Camacho, Apr 1994

     Niebla siphonoloba is a fruticose lichen frequently found on volcanic rocks along the Pacific Coast from the Vizcaíno Peninsula of Baja California to the Channel Islands, California. The epithet was chosen for its 'pipe-like' or 'bent tubular' basal branches sparingly divided into secondary branches that hardly differ from the primary branch.  Thus, unlike many species of Niebla, N. siphonoloba does not produce distinct fragmentation branchlets.   Its deeply crateriformed cortex and terminal and subterminal mouth-like apothecia gives this lichen the appearance of a life form from another world.  The apothecia sometimes appear to 'smile,' others 'laugh,' while still others seem to be 'clamming-up.'

     Niebla siphonoloba is most similar to N. rugosa, which is easily distinguished by its secondary metabolite of divaricatic acid, in contrast to sekikaic acid in N. siphonoloba.  Additionally, N. rugosa has sharply angled branches, especially in the upper half of the thallus, undivided transverse cortical ridges that connect between the longitudinal ridges in which areoles (spaces) appear rectangular, compared to sinuous areoles of N. siphonoloba, and it has apothecia cups situated on saucer-like bases.

     Niebla siphonoloba was first discovered in a Niebla community on the Vizcaíno Peninsula near Arroyo San Andrés, represented by only sekikaic acid species, N. lobulata, N. suffnessii and N. usneoides.   Niebla siphonoloba was recognized by its mostly simple basal lobes and subterminal scattered apothecia.  Niebla lobulata was distinguished by its flattened branches with lobulate to broadly lobed margins.  Niebla suffnessii was identified by its numerous long whip-like branchlets, and N. usneoides was easily identified by its abundant isidia. 

     A community of Niebla species almost exclusively dominated by sekikaic-acid thalli such as found on the Vizcaíno Peninsula is rare, while partial segregation of chemotypes by habitat type have been reported from near Punta Canoas (Spjut 1996), volcanic slopes near Bahía de San Quintín (Rundel et al. 1972), and  near El Tomatal (Sipman, Willdenowia 19: 543–555, 1990). 

     Niebla siphonoloba has been found growing with N. lobulata and N. marinii at Morro Santo Domingo, N. podetiaforma, N. lobulata, and N. flabellata along the shores of Bahía Santa María, N. suffnessii, N. lobulata, and N. usneoides on Mesa Camacho, and N. josecuervoi at Bahía de San Quintín. 

     On Santa Cruz Island, specimens referred to Niebla siphonoloba, as shown below for one (Bratt 6426) of many studied from Ragged Mt., have more basal branches with a cortex that is crateriformed instead of the sinuous ridging seen in the Baja California specimens. This variant from Santa Cruz Island, possibly a distinct species, appears related to the densely branched N. dactylifera on San Nicolas Island.  However, it also intergrades with N. fimbriata on Santa Cruz Island (e.g., Bratt 6436, Photo 12.3 in Spjut 1996), distinguished by the strongly arched basal branches with intact fimbriate branchlets, while sharing the craterformed cortex as also seen in N. dissecta.  These Channel Island species probably represent a sekikaic acid species complex that has undergone adaptive radiation since their isolation from the mainland species and may have occasionally hybridized, including also the related N. cornea and N. disrupta.

     Niebla sinuata Spjut ineditus is distinguished by the sinuous cortical ridges and lobulate margins.

     Niebla siphonoloba appears supported from the type locality, collected on top surface of volcanic rocks on mesa north of Cerro Elephante, as shown in the 6-loci phylogeny, and that of N. suffnessii collected nearer Cerro Elephante where it has since vanished from the volcanic cone as a result of climate change.

     On Mesa Camacho, an undescribed species, referred to as  N. sinuata, differs by the intermarginal sinuous lobes and apothecia developing further below the apex.

Additional Reference:

Rundel, P.W.,  P.A. Bowler & T.W. Mulroy. 1972. A fog-induced lichen community in northwestern Baja California, with two new species of Desmazieria. The Bryologist 75: 501–508.

Further References: See Niebla