“Spiny Witch’s Hair”: {Alectoria imshaugii}

 Alectoria imshaugii (aka Spiny Witch’s Hair)

Location Summary

Range: Southern British Columbia to California, east to western montana; common in low to mid elevation forests with Cont Div.

Substrate: Bark & wood of both conifers & hardwoods.

Habitat: Common in moist low to mid elevation forests e Cas, but only west Cascades.  On exposed pines & other conifers.

Sensitive to air pollution.

Identification Characteristics

Description: Tufted or shrubby, erect or subpendent (somewhat drooping), usually 5-8 cm long, produces isidia from fissures in the cortex that often originate from old pseudocyphellae; occasionally with an almost translucent appearance; branches with clusters of isidia-like spinules; pseudocyphellae elongate, slightly paler than the surrounding cortex; apothecia rare.

Color:  pale greenish yellow (or tinged blue-black when dying or in exposed sites)

Chemistry: Cortex & medulla PD+ orange, K+ yellow, KC-, C-, rarely KC+R, P- or P+ yellow or orange. (thamnolic acid), or PD-, K-, KC-, C- (squamatic acid).


Lookalikes: In general aspect, resembles some shrubby usnea species, but lacking an axis (central white cord).  Easily distinguished from other local species of Alectoria by its clusters of isidia-like spinules. It is the only Alectoria with isidia or thamnolic, & squamatic acid.

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

Database Entry:  Distance Everheart 12-26-13

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