Niebla contorta

©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
April 2003, comments Oct 2005, Sep 2012
Additions May 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.

Evolutionary history of coastal species of fog lichen genera
, Ramalina and Vermilacinia
Emmanuel Sérusiaux & Richard  Spjut
Baja California, Jan-Feb 2016


W of Bahia de Tortugas, towards Punta Eugenia, N 27°49.701, W 115°03.454, 35-40 m, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17263. Jan 2016


Population of N. contorta,
near Punta Prieta E of Bahía Asunción, BCS

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Punta Prieta E of Bahía Asunción, BCS
Spjut & Marin 11595

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Punta Eugenia, Spjut & Marin 9733, May 1986

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Arroyo at San Andrés,
Vizcaíno Peninsula,
Spjut 9593, May 1986

cntorta-9505.jpg (79885 bytes)

7 mi S of Bahía Asunción, BCS, Spjut 9505. May 1986

7 mi S of Bahía Asunción, BCS, Spjut 9506B (type). May 1986



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Isla Santa Margarita, Spjut & Marin 10692, Apr 1989


     Niebla contorta is a lichen that is endemic to the Vizcaíno Desert of Baja California and that is characterized by having a relatively small thallus, <3.5 cm high, broadly rounded flattened lobes with undulating margins and submarginal apothecia, and by having divaricatic acid (with triterpenes).  These features also occur in N. podetiaforma and N. undulata from which N. contorta is distinguished by its smaller size and lack of dark pigmentation at thallus base.

     Niebla contorta was discovered on the Vizcaíno Peninsula near Bahía Asunción where found as a dominant of a Niebla community on calcareous-siliceous rocks with rare occurrences of Vermilacinia paleoderma.  Thalli of N. contorta at this location were fairly uniform in their morphology as evident in the above photo. 

     Niebla contorta has other morphotypes on the Vizcaíno Peninsula and on Isla Santa Margarita.  On Punta Eugenia and Punta Cono, the thalli lobes are more tongue-shaped to channeled as in N. dilatata or N. caespitosa.  These species differ in having more strongly flattened branches, irregular in shape. Also, the lobes of N. dilatata are rounded and thickened along the apical margins, whereas those of N. caespitosa are narrowed to a pointed apex and are thinner towards the margins.  Another related species, N. rugosa, differs by the ±regular transverse ridging on the upper parts of branches or lobes.