{Alectoria sarmentosa}

Location Summary

Air pollution sensitive

Range: Alas to California, east to Alta & Montana; mainly w Cont Div, but mostly avoiding the immediate coast.

Substrate: On bark or wood, rarely on rock or mosses over rock.

Habitat: Common in low to mid elevation conifer forests, draping from the branches & trunks in cool, coastal areas & some moist inland sites. associated with old-growth forests; toward the eastern edge of the its range increasingly restricted to moist, old-growth forest.

Identification Characteristics 

Description: Pendant, up to 40 cm long, pale green or yellowish green, occasionally blackening; main branches round in cross section or somewhat angular, often twisted & somewhat flattened at the axis, generally <2.5 mm in diameter;  Raised white pseudocyphellae, usually elongate, whitish, to about 1 mm long; round, brown apothecia fairly common along the branches, the disk pale tan or blackish; medulla usually loose & cottony

Chemistry: Cortex PD-, K-, KC+ gold, C-; medulla KC+ red (alectoronic acid) or KC-, usually P-

Lookalikes: A. vancouverensis is essentially identical in form, but is coarser & somewhat grayer & it reacts C+ bright red & KC+ deep red (olivetoric acid) in the medulla, & differs in range & habitat (A. vancouverensis occurs along coast from N. California to Vancouver Island).  A. fallacina is a knobby, mainly KC-, Appalachian lichen with a very thick cortex. A. sarmentosa ssp. vexillifera, found on the ground in the eastern arctic & western alpine tundra, has flattened branches & is often blotched dark greenish black.

Utility Uses (no approved harvesting techniques currently)

   On Vancouver island, the Nitinaht use it for making bandages & diapers.  The Bella Coola Indians of coastal British Columbia use it as an artificial hair on dance masks.

NO Positive-Impact Harvesting Techniques established currently

IMPORTANT!:  Animal Uses:  An important food for black-tailed deer, especially in winter when other forage is scarce. Scientists in British Columbia have experimented with reintroducing it after timber harvesting to improve second-growth forests as deer habitat.

Bibliography: Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest, by Bruce McCune & Linda GeiserLichens of North America, by Brodo, Sharnoff, & Sharnoff

Database Entry:  Distance Everheart  12-27-13

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