Niebla suffnessii

©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
April 2003, Oct. 2005, Aug 2012
May 2017, Dec 2021

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. The fruticose genera in the Ramalinaceae (Ascomycota, Lecanoromycetes): their diversity and evolutionary history.  MycoKeys. 2020 Oct 30;74:109-110].
MycoKeys. 2020;73:1-68. Published 2020 Sep 11. doi:10.3897/mycokeys.73.47287

Evolution and diversification of Niebla
Steven 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.



 Vizcaíno Peninsula, W of Bahía de Tortugas, towards Punta Eugenia, N 27°43.754, W 114°55.606, 40 m, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17226, Jan 2016

South of El Rosario along road to Punta Baja, on sandy, wind-swept ridgeline, 80 m, Leavitt et al. 16-999, Dec 2016


NW Bahía de Ascunción, near the Mesa El Elephante, N 27°19.801 W, 114°24.895, 115 m, Spjut & Sérusiaux 17164, Jan 2016. Note: TLC identified divaricatic acid in addition to sekikaic acid.

suffnessii-9965.jpg (57663 bytes)

    Vizcaíno Peninsula, slopes
    of Cerro El Elephante, 
    Spjut 9565, May 1986,
    sekikaic acid  (TLC Oct 1987)

suffnessii-9976D.jpg (82422 bytes)

    Vizcaíno Peninsula, slopes
of Cerro El Elephante,
Spjut 9576D, May 1986,
sekikaic acid  (TLC Sep 1988)

suffnessii-13188.jpg (116052 bytes)

    Mesa between Punta Canoas and Puerto Catarina, Spjut & Marin 13118, Apr 1994, sekikaic acid (TLC Jun 1994, 
    Mar 1995)

    Mesa between Punta
Canoas and Puerto Catarina,
Spjut & Marin 13117,
Apr 1994, sekikaic acid

    Mesa between Punta Canoas 
    and Puerto Catarina, Spjut &
    Marin 13101
, Apr 1994, 
    Sekikaic Acid (TLC Jun 1994, 
    Mar 1995)

    Mesa between Punta
 Canoas and Puerto Catarina, Spjut & Marin 13106,
Apr 1994, sekikaic acid (TLC Jun 1994, 
    Mar 1995)

Vizcaíno Peninsula, Arroyo
San Andrés, Spjut & Marin 10573
Apr 1989; photo on right shows close-up of reticulate ridging on cortex.



Bahía Santa María
vicinity of San Luis,
Spjut & Marin 11355
Apr 1990

    Mesa between Punta Canoas and Puerto
Catarina, Spjut & Marin
, Apr 1994, sekikaic
acid (TLC Jun 1994, Mar 1995)

    Niebla sinuata (Spjut ined.)
Mesa between Punta Canoas 
    and Puerto Catarina, Spjut &
    Marin 13113
, Apr 1994, 
    Sekikaic Acid (TLC Jun 1994, 
    Mar 1995).  Photos taken in field, lab, and close up branches showing
prominent reticulate ridges. Note sinuous longitudinal ridges.


  Niebla sinuata (Spjut ined.)   
Mesa between Punta Canoas 
    and Puerto Catarina, Spjut &
    Marin 13114
, Apr 1994, photo on right—close-up of branches
showing sinuous cortical ridges.


Niebla sinuata (Spjut ined.). Mesa between Punta Canoas and Puerto Catarina, Spjut &
 Marin 13120
, Apr 1994

Niebla suffnessii, map showing geographical occurrences, and another map showing greater detail for site of N. angulata, on Mesa Camacho.

Illustration of TLC Data for Niebla spp.




     Niebla suffnessii  is a species of fruticose lichen endemic to Baja California, ranging from the Vizcaíno Peninsula to near El Rosario in Baja California Norte.  It most often occurs on red volcanic rocks of cones and mesas away the immediate coast.   It is generally recognized by having sekikaic acid and numerous hair-like to whip-like branchlets that differ from the primary (basal) branch by the sharply reticulate cortex, although the distinction between the primary branch and the branchlet is often not sharp.

     Several morphs can be recognized by differences in the habit and cortical features. The typical morph from Cerro Elephante is much like the type for N. marinii (salazinic acid species) in having inflated primary branches that dichotomously divide numerous times, gradually narrowing while becoming more fringed with short to long whip-like branchlets. The cortex on the inflated portion near base is relatively smooth.  A second morph has more prominent reticulate ridging and less inflated branches. It occurs infrequently on the Vizcaíno Peninsula (Arroyo San Andrés) and more frequently further north.  A third morph, given an unpublished name, N. sinuata, has sharp sinuous cortical ridges; it is known only from Mesa Camacho.

     Niebla suffnessii was first collected in May 1986 on red lava on the Vizcaíno Peninsula at the summit of a volcanic cone, Cerro Elephante, 1,640 ft in elevation, ~ 12 mi north of Bahía Asunción; it was the only Niebla species at this location; however, upon returning to the volcanic cone in Jan 2016, it seems to have vanished, a change in climate seems the mostly logical explanation.  Thalli were generally bushy in habit with a pale-yellowish-green, pruinose cortex and with numerous whip-like branchlets bearing lenticular apothecia.  Further up the road, near Arroyo San Andrés, additional specimens of N. suffnessii were collected in association with other sekikaic-acid species, N. lobulata, N. siphonoloba, and N. usneoides Niebla lobulata, as the epithet implies, is distinguished by the lobulate branchlets, and N. siphonoloba, as its epithet implies, by tubular, pipe-like branches that rarely divide.  Niebla usneoides—easily recognized by its isidiate flagelliform branchlets, was noted to be abundant over large areas, but in 2016  it too seems to have vanished.  

     Several other sekikaic acid species of Niebla with relatively long narrow branches or branchlets occur further north.   Niebla fimbriata, which is found in the Northern Vizcaíno Desert, north of Punta Canoas and in the Channel Islands, differs by the primary branches producing brittle spine-like side branchlets pointing in the same direction; the branchlets detach easily as evident from bumpy (lobed) branch margins, while occasionally basal branches lack the side branchlets, or the basal branches are mostly decumbent from which many secondary branches grow upright.  Its apothecia are shaped more like a cup instead of a lens, and the cortex is dark green with longitudinal creases, instead of yellowish-green and turgid.  Niebla disrupta, a California endemic, differs in the dichotomously divided primary branches with a smooth glossy cortex, cracking transversely at various internals, and by apothecia that develop more near the base of the thallus.

     On Mesa Camacho and around Bahía María Niebla turgida (divaricatic acid) is similar to N. suffnessii where they seem to occur near each other.   They are easily separated by their lichen substances. Niebla turgida has divaricatic acid and dark pigmentation (skyrin) near the base of the thallus. It also has a reticulate cortex with ±rectangular areoles (not rounded), and more conspicuous pycnidia, appearing slightly larger and more raised by the thalline margin.

     Phylogeny of Niebla suffnessii is supported from a specimen collected in the vicinity of the type locality, Cerro Elephante, on the Vizcaíno Peninsula (Spjut et al. 2020, Fig. 7).


Additional References: See Niebla