Bushy Beard, Usnea strigosa
Parmeliaceae or Shield Lichen Family

Formerly in the Usneaceae or Beard Lichen Family

Lichen (collected specimen)

Lichen a much branched tuft resembling a tiny little shrub, sprouting a few to many little sunflower-like blooms. These blooms, with stiff fibers forming the "petals," are sexually reproductive structures called apothecia. You can clearly see one at the far left in the slightly flattened collected specimen at left. and in closeup at right. The branches are densely covered tiny bumps called papillae. A tough central cord runs down the center of each branch, and is usually pink (below right).

This very striking lichen grows on bark, high in the trees. It seems to be rare in the Park, but can occasionally be found on a fallen branch, as was the one at left, collected by students in a Mycology class at Radford University.

It is easy to distinguish the genus Usnea from other genera of bushy lichens. Grasp a branch at both ends and pull gently but firmly until it breaks. If there is a tough central cord sticking out of one of the pieces it is an Usnea, but if it breaks cleanly, it is something else.

There are, so far, three known species of Usnea in the Park and they all look alike at first glance. Bushy Beard is easily distinguished from the other two (Bristly Beard and Bloody Beard) because it is the only one that forms apothecia. A few other species of Usnea out west also have apothecia, but only one other lichen in our area, the Black-Rooted Bushy Beard (U. subfusca) has apothecia. This is a rare lichen, that can be told from Bushy Beard by the fact that its base, where it attaches to bark, is black, and the fact that its central cord is white.

Bumps (Papillae) on fibrils Fibrils Medulla and central cord

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