Niebla pulchribarbara

The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
January 2004, 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


Rocky mesa E of San Antonio del Mar, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17015, Jan 2016


Rocky mesa E of San Antonio del Mar, Spjut & Marin 11182,
Apr 1990


Illustration of TLC data for species of Niebla

Map showing collection sites

Niebla pulchribarbara is a relatively rare lichen that is a unique species in the genus for having protocetraric acid (without triterpenes).  It has been reported only from two locations: (1) sandy beaches near Bahía de San Quintín and (2) lava rubble on a mesa above San Antonio del Mar.  In the latter location, two thalli have been collected on three separate occasions where they constituted perhaps 5% of the thalli in a Niebla community of N. arenaria, N. effusa, N. fimbriata, N. josecuervoi, N. juncosa, and N. versiforma

     Niebla pulchribarbara was originally described by Rundel and Bowler from a vegetation study they conducted at Bahía de San Quintín (Rundel et al. 1972); however, Bowler and Marsh (2004), felt it was no longer worthy of recognition and treated it as a synonym of N. josecuervoi, a species that had also been described by Rundel and Bowler in the same study (Rundel et al. 1972).  The authors of N. pulchribarbara did not provide any indication of what its frequency was at the site, apparently because they distinguished N. pulchribarbara from N. josescuervoi by the terricolous habit (Rundel 1978) rather than by secondary lichen substances as was later done by Spjut (1996).  However, N. josecuervoi occasionally is recognized without having a well defined attachment point as shown for specimens collected on Punta Canoas (e.g., Spjut 11297)

     The morphological features of Niebla pulchribarbara appear intermediate between N. josecuervoi and N. effusa as seen by the development and shape of branchlets.  Niebla pulchribarbara differs slightly from these related species in the longer branchlets; however, based on the relatively few specimens studied, it is difficult to draw any taxonomic conclusions on this one feature. The thallus lacking any clear dominant branch and the relatively rigid branches with raised longitudinal cortical ridges are features shared with N. effusa.  The appearance of long secondary branchlets, often close together along the upper side of a primary branch, is also similar to N. josecuervoi.  In view of the limited material for study, it seems best to identify N. pulchribarbara by the lichen substance, protocetraric acid.

Additional references cited:

Bowler, P. A. and J. Marsh.  2004. Niebla.  Lichen Flora of the Greater Sonoran Desert 2: 368–380. 

Rundel, P.W. 1978. Ecological relationships of desert fog zone lichens.  The Bryologist 81: 277–293.

Rundel, P.W.,  P.A. Bowler & T.W. Mulroy. 1972. A fog-induced lichen community in northwestern Baja California, with two new species of Desmazieria. The Bryologist 75: 501–508.