Niebla limicola

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

Additional Discussion: See: Introduction to Niebla and its phylogeography



SE of Guerrero Negro, near Whale watching center, Jan 2016
Spjut & Sérusiaux 17133
Jan 2016

SE of Guerrero Negro, near Whale watching center, Jan 2016
Spjut & Sérusiaux 17134
Jan 2016

SE of Guerrero Negro, near Whale watching center, Jan 2016
Spjut & Sérusiaux 17130
Jan 2016


limicola-9794.jpg (140648 bytes)

Morro Santo Domingo,
Spjut 9794, May 1986

limicola-11916.jpg (90741 bytes)

Scammon's Lagoon, BCS
Marin & Spjut 11916, Apr 1990

limicola-12690.jpg (35577 bytes)

Guerrero Negro,
Spjut 12690, Apr 1993

Rancho San José
between Punta Canoas
and Punta Blanca, BCN
Spjut & Marin 11396, Apr 1990

Punta Cono, BCN
Spjut & Marin 11539, Apr 1990

Cañón San Vicente
between El Rosario and
Punta San Antonio
Spjut & Marin 12684,


Close-up of thallus and vegetation near Guerrero Negro, type locality, Follmann 34432 (B)
Photo by G. Follmann


Thallus enlarged and vegetation near Guerrero Negro, type locality, BCS.
Spjut & Sérusiaux 17130-34


Niebla sp. [aff. brachyura]

Baja California Sur. Vizcaíno Peninsula: Southeast of Guerrero Negro near Whale Watch; 27°46.178, 114°00.665, 6 m. Type locality for N. limicola (salazinic acid).

Spjut & Sérusiaux 17132-4752. Jan 2016. Hypoprotocetraric acid + psoromic acid? Cited in MycoKeys 73: 18, Fig. 7  (2020). New chemotype for Niebla. DNA 4752.


Bahía de San Quintín, BCN
Spjut & Marin 11937, Feb 1991


Geographic Distribution


Illustration of TLC data showing salazinic acid among other chemotypes
 of Niebla


     Niebla limicola is a species of fruticose lichen endemic to the  peninsula of Baja California, occurring along shores of bays and beaches with salt scrub (Atriplex, Frankenia), and inland on alkali barren soil (devoid of higher plant vegetation), ranging from the Vizcaíno Peninsula north to Bahía de San Quintín.  It seems most common on coastal mud or sand in the Southern Vizcaíno Desert, especially near Guerrero Negro, the type locality.  It is recognized by the regular appearance of short bifurcate branchlets arising along dilated-flattened segments, and by having salazinic acid.  Less flattened branches, often conspicuously  twisted and contorted—appearing ribbon-like—are included with the species by also having short bifurcate side branchlets, in contrast to related salazinic-acid species such as  Niebla arenaria that differs by the straight linear-prismatic branches  more densely and intricately dichotomously divided from base to apex.  Another salazinic acid species,   Niebla effusa, is distinguished by dilated branches near apex bearing simple branchlets curved much like scorpioid cymose inflorescences of flowering plants.

    Niebla brachyura, a relatively infrequent species in the southern half region of the Vizcaíno Desert and on Isla Cedros, is sometimes similar in the bifurcate branching but easily distinguished by its lichen substance of hypoprotocetraric acid instead of having salazinic acid.

        From a "sampling" of eight  specimens of putative  N. limicola growing within several  meters of each other in the vicinity of the type locality, five were DNA extracted while a sixth was analyzed only by TLC.  The five DNA-extracted clustered in a phylogenetic ITS tree among other depsidone species within the depsidone clade; however, both BPP and Stacey analyses recognized two different species as clearly evident in the 6-loci phylogenetic tree (Spjut et al. 2020, Fig. 7) in which 17130-4751 and 17132-4752 are well separated, phylogenetically. Although 17130 compares closely with the type collection in morphology and chemistry of salazinic acid—and could serve as an epitype for the species in DNA phylogeny studies, the nearby 17132-4752 was found to be a new chemotype for the genus in having the combination of hypoprotocetraric acid and psoromic acid with unknowns, and also morphologically distinct by its thicker cortex. It is phylogeographically related to depsidone specimens collected approximately 430 km further north in the Chaparral Desert Transition, a disjunct pattern also seen other species complexes of Niebla.

Additional References: See Niebla