Niebla josecuervoi

The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
April 2003, Oct. 2005, Sep 2012
Additions May 2017, Nov 2021,
edited Sep 2022

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

Spjut R, Simon A, Guissard M, Magain N, Sérusiaux E. 2020. The fruticose genera in the Ramalinaceae (Ascomycota, Lecanoromycetes): their diversity and evolutionary history.  MycoKeys. 73: 1–68. published online.
MycoKeys. 2020;73:1-68. Published 2020 Sep 11. doi:10.3897/mycokeys.73.47287

Evolution and diversification of Niebla
Steve Leavitt et al., Baja California, Dec 2016

Jorna J, J Linde, P Searle, A Jackson, M-E Nielsen, M Nate, N Saxton, F Grewe, M de los Angeles Herrera-Campos, R Spjut, H Wu, B Ho, S Leavitt, T Lumbsch.  Species boundaries in the messy middle -- testing the hypothesis of micro-endemism in a recently diverged lineage of coastal fog desert lichen fungi. Ecology and Evolution. Published Online: 20 Dec 2021.

See also Niebla for phylogeography of the genus



Rocky mesa along road to Punta Baja, 140 m, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17086, Jan 2016


Laguna and peninsula
southwest of
San Quintín, 30 m,
Spjut & Sérusiaux 17053
Jan 2016


Morro Santo Domingo,
on lava of volcanic slope,
110–130 m, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17274, Jan 2016

Southwest of San Quintín, on volcanic slopes of Volcan Sudoeste, 40 m,  Leavitt et al. 16-765, Dec 2016. Vicinity of type local.


Southwest of San Quintín in the Punta Mazo Reserve, on volcanic slopes of Volcan Sudoeste, 80 m,  Leavitt et al. 16-718, Dec 2016. Vicinity of type locality.



  Along road to Punta Catarina, ca. 2 km inland from coast, on silty flat, 45 m,  Leavitt et al. 16-1045, Dec 2016


Southwest of San Quintín in the Punta Mazo Reserve, on volcanic slopes of Volcan Sudoeste,  Leavitt et al. 16-907, 10 m,  Dec 2016. Vicinity of Type Locality

Laguna and peninsula
southwest of
San Quintín, 40 m,
Spjut & Sérusiaux 17064
Jan 2016

Along road to Punta Baja on sandy, wind-swept ridgeline,
80 m,  Leavitt et al. 16-1014, Dec 2016


Mesa above San Antonio
del Mar, 92 m, on soil among
low succulent and spiny shrubs <  1 m high, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17017, Jan 2016

Mesa above San Antonio
del Mar, 92 m, on soil among
low succulent and spiny shrubs <  1 m high, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17014, Jan 2016


Southwest of San Quintín in the Punta Mazo Reserve, on volcanic slopes of Volcan Sudoeste,  10m, Leavitt et al. 16-720, Dec 2016. Vicinity of Type Locality

josecuervoi-9047.jpg (124475 bytes)

Cerro Solo, Spjut & Marin 9047J, Apr 1985

josecuervoi-10281A.jpg (125549 bytes)

SW of El Rosario,
Spjut 10281A, Mar 1988

josecuervoi-11297.jpg (270116 bytes)

Punta Canoas,
Spjut 11297, Apr 1990

Left: Bahía de San Quintín, BCN
rocks along beach,
Spjut 9328, May 1986
. Right: Terricolous just W of Bahía Falsa, Spjut & Marin 13843, 1 Apr 1996 [Salazinic acid det. by Ermias Mekuria Addo et al. (Aug 2022), LC-MS and NMR,
notably 1D selective methods with 1D-TOCSY and 1D-NOESY; salazinic acid comprises 1.6% of the dry mass of the lichen]

Just W of San Andrés Ranch,
N-facing steep rocky cliffs,
Spjut 9889B, May 1986

Ridge S of El Marrón,
Spjut 9961
May 1986

Mesa above Punta Baja,
Spjut 10258, Mar 1988

Ridge above Punta Rocosa,
Spjut 10349, Mar 1988

 Punta Blanca,
Spjut & Marin 11455
Apr 1990

Ridge above Punta Rocosa,
Spjut 10345, Mar 1988

Puerta Catarina, Spjut 13103,
Apr 1994

Bahía Santa María,
Spjut & Marin 11572
Apr 1990

Mesa above San Antonio
del Mar,
Spjut 11178, Apr 1990

Illustration of TLC Data
for Niebla spp. ITS Phylogeny for N. josecuervoi

Geographical Distribution



     Niebla josecuervoi is a fruticose lichen  endemic to the Baja California peninsula, occurring  along the Pacific Coast  from Morro Santo Domingo north to Ejido Erendira, usually on rocks, occasionally terricolous. 

      Niebla josecuervoi is recognized by having salazinic acid without triterpenes, and by a thallus of primary sublinear branches bearing secondary (lateral) comb-like branchlets along one side; the primary branches often decumbent with the lateral branchlets erect, and frequently short-bifurcate near apex.     Apothecia usually develop on the spinuliferous (fragmentation) branchlets. Most thalli bear  apothecia (>90%, Spjut 1996) in contrast to the terricolous N. effusa (salazinic acid) with less frequent apothecia (~66%, Spjut 1996) and with the fragmentation branchlets confined more to an apical dilated branch.  Another related salazinic-acid species, N. arenaria, in which apothecia are rarely present, has a thallus more intricately divided terminating in short bifurcate spine-like (acicular) branchlets.  Occasionally, fragmentation branchlets are not evident in N. josecuervoi, the species then recognized by the ± uniformly linear shape of the branches throughout with prominent reticulate cortical ridging.  

     Unlike Niebla arenaria that occasionally forms a single dominant Niebla community, N. josecuervoi is usually a member of a multi-species Niebla community.  In its northern range, such as in the coastal chaparral region between San Quintín and San Vicente, it occurs on rocks with N. fimbriata (sekikaic acid).  Around Bahía de San Quintín it is commonly associated with N. homalea (divaricatic acid), N. eburnea (divaricatic acid) and N. juncosa var. spinulifera (divaricatic acid).  In the CDT southwest of El Rosario, terricolous forms grow on lava mesas in association with N. effusa (salazinic acid), N. arenaria (salazinic acid), and N. juncosa var. spinulifera.  In the NVD, it is saxicolous, primarily with N. turgida (divaricatic acid) on Mesa Santa Catarina and along beaches with N. flabellata (salazinic acid). Further south, it is associated with numerous species of Niebla,  especially in a highly diverse Niebla community on Mesa Camacho.

     South of Punta Rocosa, N. josecuervoi is replaced by N. marinii (salazinic acid) as seen at Morro Santo Domingo where N. marinii is notably dominant in a Niebla community that included N. lobulata and N. juncosa var. juncosa within a higher plant community of Joshua tree woodland of Yucca valida; however, intermediate forms are evident by specimens having a shiny smooth cortex with the typical fragmentation  branchlets, in contrast to the rough cortex of N. josecuervoi.  They are further separated by the flexuous curved branches seen in N. marinii in contrast to the rigidly stiff and straight branches that characterizes N. josecuervoi. Both species were named after field assistants; José Cuervo is also a well-known name for a brand of Tequila (Wikipedia).

         Niebla josecuervoi is also morphologically similar to N. fimbriata (sekikaic acid), N. turgida (divaricatic acid), N. juncosa (divaricatic acid, and  N. pulchribarbara (protocetraric acid). They are easily identified by their lichen substances.  A proposed new species with salazinic acid species,  (N. angulata Spjut ined.), differs by the basal branches dividing equally into secondary branches segments as seen in N. marinii by examples of images presented.  Another salazinic-acid species, N. flabellata, differs by the thallus divided into small tufts of flattened lacerated branches.

    An ITS phylogenetic tree (draft, unpublished) combining data from Spjut et al. (2020) and (Jorna et al. 2021, Leavitt comm.) shows Niebla josecuervoi in two or three clades including specimens from the type locality (nr San Quintín, Volcan Sudoeste) where one clade appears sister to the N. spatulata complex on the Vizcaíno Peninsula.  Spjut et al. (2020) in a BPP analysis of five specimens of N. josecuervoi (sensu Spjut 1996) determined that they represent four species, overlapping with undetermined character traits for other depsidone species. Jorna et al. (2021), employing numerous loci obtained from high-throughput sequencing could recognize nine depsidone species from a BPP analysis as also by Spjut et al. (2020) based on six loci, while both studies also found that as few as three species may be represented employing other analytical methods.  Although  the depsidone clade would appear of more recent derivation as related to its endemism to the NVD and CDT, N. josecuervoi still includes cryptic species and shows disjunct phylogeographic relationships as also seen in the more widely distributed depside clades.  

     The type specimen for N. josecuervoi was reported in the private herbarium of Rundel (Rundel et al. 1972), while a later report by the University of California at Los Angeles (LA) mentioned the Rundel lichen collections at LA were transferred to RAMK in 2007.

Reference for Species determination of Spjut & Marin 11386: Ermias Mekuria Addo, Dmitriy Uchenik,  Manead Khin,  Richard W. Spjut,  Joanna E. Burdette,  A. Douglas Kinghorn, Liva Harinantenaina Rakotondraibe. 2022. Unpublished, abstract, Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy; College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University; College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago; and World Botanical Associates. Dereplication and Isolation of Secondary Metabolites of the Two Selected Pacific Coastal Lichens. Aug 2022.


Additional References: See Niebla.