Niebla brachyura

The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
January 2004.  Comments and illustrations added Oct. 2005, Sep 2012, Feb 2017

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.


Punta Canoas, Spjut 11334, Apr 1990

Punta Cono, Spjut & Marin 11511, Apr 1990


Baja California: Sandy areas among volcanic rocks, Morro Santo Domingo
Spjut & Sérusiaux 17271
 Feb 2016, TLC Oct 2016, hypoprotocetraric acid



Punta Cono, Spjut & Marin 11513, Apr 1990

Illustration of TLC data


Geographical Distribution



     Niebla brachyura is a rare lichen that is endemic to the Northern Vizcaíno Desert of Baja California.   It is distinguished by its hemispherical thallus intricately divided into narrow to irregularly widened  branches that are often shortly bifurcate near apex, and by its lichen substance of hypoprotocetraric acid.  It appears intermediate between salazinic acid species, Niebla flabellata—that differs by the more strongly flattened branches arising from a central attachment point, and by the thinner yellowish-green cortex—and N. arenaria that is best distinguished by its chemistry. Niebla brachyura is one of two species in the genus that has hypoprotocetraric acid.  The other, N. spatulata, which is also rare, is much like N. flabellata; it is known sporadically from near El Tomatal, on the Vizcaíno Peninsula, and on Isla Cedros. 

     The type collection consisted of a single specimen (Spjut & Marin 9073K, holotype) pulled out of a sample of ~ 200 g  collected in May 1985 for the National Cancer Institute's anticancer/antiHIV screening.  The sample was later determined to include N. caespitosa (divaricatic acid) with occasional N. flabellata (salazinic acid), N. eburnea (divaricatic acid) and N. flagelliforma (divaricatic acid). The type of N. flabellata was also selected from this sample (Spjut & Marin 9073H5).  It was not until five years later that Niebla brachyura was found at other sites, one near Punta Canoas where six specimens were collected in association with N. arenaria, and another at Punta Cono where two specimens were collected in an enriched mixed Niebla-Vermilacinia community. 

      Niebla brachyura is morphologically similar to the salazinic-acid species, N. limicola and N. effusa, and they are best distinguished from N. brachyura by their lichen substances.