Niebla turgida

The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
April 2003, Oct. 2005, Aug 2005, Sep 2012
May 2017, 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
Steven 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



SW of El Rosario, road to Punta Baja, N 30°00.075, W 115°45.965', 140 m Spjut & Sérusiaux 17080, Jan 2016.  Note 17080A in ITS phylogeny, N. turgida showing mutational differencess in group 18 for two different extracts taken from the same thallus. The smaller finely branched thallus, 17080B, N. effusa, salazinic acid, in depsidone clade. Lineages colored to indicate Chaparral Desert Transition (green), Northern Vizcaíno Desert (red) and Southern Vizcaíno Desert (yellow).

NE of Punta Santa Rosalillita, narrow valley in the mesa, N 28°40.572, W 114°13.736, 35 m, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17312, Jan 2016. Det. by R. Spjut without TLC

Along gravel to Punta Catarina, ca. 2 km inland from coast, on silty flat, 45 m, Leavitt et al. 16-1047, Dec 2016

Southwest of San Quintín in the Punta Mazo Reserve, on volcanic slopes of Volcan Sudoeste. Leavitt et al. 16-746

South of El Rosario along road to Punta Baja, on sandy, wind-swept ridgeline. Leavitt et al. 16-1012

Southwest of San Quintín in the Punta Mazo Reserve, on volcanic slopes of Volcan Sudoeste. Leavitt et al. 16-723

Baja California: Chaparral-Desert Transition. Mesa with reddish lava east of Punta San Antonio del Mar, west of Colonet; 31°05.403', 116°16.268', 92 m. Spjut & Sérusiaux 17007, Jan 2016. Low mixed succulent and deciduous thorn scrub with open

            ground. In 1979 observed to be low thicket of spiny shrubs and cacti with Mammillaria dioica forming a complete ground cover between the other plants


Niebla sp. (nov.)
Morro Santo Domingo, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17265-4851, Feb 2016,


Baja California: Chaparral-Desert Transition. Mesa with reddish lava east of Punta San Antonio del Mar, west of Colonet; 31°05.403', 116°16.268', 92 m. Spjut & Sérusiaux 17010C, Jan 2016.

turgida-11256.jpg (137809 bytes)

Mesa Camacho,
Spjut 11256
, Apr 1990

turgida-11388.jpg (129338 bytes)

San José Ranch between Punta Canoas and Punta Blanca, Spjut & Marin 11388, Apr 1990

turgida-13088.jpg (80873 bytes)

Mesa Camacho,
Spjut & Marin 13088
Apr 1994

turgida-13100.jpg (190745 bytes)

Mesa Camacho,
Spjut & Marin 13100
Apr 1994

turgida-10380.jpg (176068 bytes)

Between Punta Rocosa
and Punta Prieta, Spjut 10380, Mar 1988

turgida-11280.jpg (91361 bytes)

Mesa Camacho,
Spjut 11280
, Apr 1990

Near Punta Rocosa,
Spjut 10382
, type, Mar 1988

Near Punta Rocosa,
type locality, Spjut 10380

Mesa Santa Catarina, Spjut &
Marin 13024
, Apr 1994

Mesa Santa Catarina, Spjut &
Marin 13030
, Apr 1994

Between Punta Rocosa
and Punta Prieta, Spjut 10385, Mar 1988

Between Punta Rocosa
and Punta Prieta,
 Spjut 10365, Mar 1988


     Niebla turgida is a fruticose lichen endemic to Baja California in the regions of the Northern Vizcaino Desert and Chaparral Desert Transition.  It is common from Mesa Santa Catarina south to Punta Rocosa, often colonial on large rock surfaces, but also frequent on pebbles.  It is perhaps most abundant on slopes leading up to Mesa Santa Catarina.

     Niebla turgida is identified by the lichen substance divaricatic acid and by its bushy growth of >20 basal branches that become increasingly rougher and long tapered towards apex; the rough part is due to the closely connected reticulate cortical ridges.  The species has the general aspect of N. juncosa that differs by the more acutely defined branch margins with a relatively smooth cortex in between the margins except for occasional ripples and transverse ridges on the upper branchlets, and by having well-defined branch margins. 

     Two morphs of Niebla turgida can be recognized.  The typical one has inflated tubular branches that narrow above the swollen portion. It is much like N. podetiaforma, which is distinguished not only by its fewer basal branches but also by the less conspicuous pycnidia and shorter blunt-tipped branchlets. The other has flattened branches with dilated segments similar to N. caespitosa, which differs by the smaller flattened thallus with mostly lacerated branches.

      Other similar species include N. josecuervoi and  N. suffnessii, distinguished by their chemistry of salazinic acid and sekikaic acid, respectively.

    Phylogeny of Niebla in Spjut et al. (2020, Fig. 7) recognized two specimens from mesa above San Antonio del Mar in a clade basal to a large sister  clade of divaricatic acid species that include N. homalea, N. eburnea, N. flagelliforma, N. juncosa, and N. testudinaria. Except for N. juncosa (and also N. turgida), these species have a relatively thick cortex with a solid medulla, mostly occurring in California and near Bahía San Quintín. The type was collected near Punta Rocosa. Spjut & Sérusiaux 17312 shown above from near Punta Santa Rosalillita is ~8 km south of Punta Rocosa. In a  draft ITS phylogenetic tree, the specimen did not cluster with other N. turgida specimens.

Additional References: See Niebla