OwensPeak#6

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Owens Peak #6: Fungi, Lichens, Liverworts & Ferns
© W.P. Armstrong (Updated 9 November 2021)
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Note: Many Of These Species Are Also In The
Palomar College Arboretum & Adjacent Hills

Owens Peak Fungi

An Interesting Fungus On Owens Peak! Fungal phylum Chytridiomycota

The naturalized weed called filaree (Erodium cicutarium) on Owens Peak is decorated with a crimson-red chytrid fungus (Synchytrium papillatum) of the fungal phylum Chytridiomycota. The glistening microscopic pustules are referred to as "galls" by some authorities. I don't remember this colorful fungus from my Mycology course during the 2nd millennium AD.


A Gall Caused By The Rust Fungus Puccinia evadens. Special Thanks to
Nancy Asquith For Correcting My Original Incorrect ID Of P. baccharidis.
Division Eumycota - Class Basidiomycetes - Order Uredinales (Rusts)

The following malformation (swelling) on the stem of coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis ssp. consanguinea) is caused by the rust fungus Puccinia. Masses of orange spores have broken through the stem in pustules (uredinia = uredia). The single-celled spores are called uredospores (urediniospores): Dikaryotic, auto-infecting vegetative spores. The native ant Tapinoma sessile was presumably interested in the spores.

See Tapinoma sessile On Wayne's Word Ant Page

Eruption of spores through epidermis of coyote brush stem. Although photo was taken in January, most of the spores appear to be unicellular uredospores rather than overwintering 2-celled teliospores.

Microscopic view of the spores from Baccharis rust fungus on Owens Peak. Some of the spores show two nuclei (dikaryotic). At slightly different focal planes other binucleate spores come into view. The spores appear to be unicellular uredospores rather than overwintering 2-celled teliospores.


My 1st prickly puffball fungus (Lycoperdon) on Owens Peak: Brought out by all the well-spaced rains in San Diego County.

  More Images Of Puffballs  

Tiny bird's nest fungi are appearing on slopes of Owens Peak. The minute lentil-shaped "eggs" (peridioles) are forcibly ejected to disperse their spores in a rather ingenius mechanism. It literally flings its peridioles up into a nearby shrub so the spores can be released into the air several feet above the ground.

Earth star (Geastrum sp.) in Palomar College Arboretom & on Owens Peak.

Unidentiful brown mushrooms in Palomar College Arboretum & Owens Peak. DO NOT EAT UNTIL POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED! See next image for a possible ID.

Based on clusters of small reddish-brown mushrooms, gills that extend down stalk, and numerous cross-veins between gills, this appears to be the "cross-veined troop mushroom" (Xeromphalina). In fact, it may be X. kauffmanii.

Winter ant workers (Prenolepis imparis) feeding on the stalk of a mushroom (Russula?).

Workers of winter ant (Prenolepis imparis) from the north side of Owens Peak. I first noticed these shiny black ants on 3 December 2012, hence the common name of "winter ant." The thorax (mesosoma or alitrunk) is constricted in center and resembles the shape of an hourglass when viewed from above. These ants are slightly larger than Argentine ants (just over 3.0 mm). According to Trevor R. Sorrells, et al. (2011), they secrete a hydrocarbon mixture that is lethal to Argentine ants, thus providing an effective defense against this invasive species from South America.

Fungi In The Palomar College Arboretum
  Links To Fungus Images On Wayne'sWord  


Owens Peak Lichens (Lichenized Fungi)

  List Of Lichen Images On Wayne's Word

An outcrop of smooth, white-flecked Santiago Peak Volcanic rock at the summit of Owens Peak. The foliose lichen is Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia.

I originally identified this yellow crustose, areolate lichen as Acarospora schleicheri because it lacked the bright chartreuse coloration and marginal lobation of Pleopsidium flavum and P. chlorophanum. However, most modern lichen floras state that A. schleicheri is a soil (terricolous) species. In fact, even A. H. Magnusson (1929) describes A. schleicheri as a soil lichen in "The Yellow Species of Acarospora in North America" (Mycologia 21 (5): 249-260). In the latter reference under "growing on stone" this yellow lichen keys out to A. socialis. According to Kerry Knudson (personal communication, 2007), A. socialis is indeed the correct name for this species. The brown crustose lichen was identified by Charis Bratt as A. bullata. The white crustose lichen with marginal lobation is Dimelaena radiata.

Yellow coblestone lichen (Acarospora socialis) on Owens Peak. The areoles are about 1-1.5 mm in diameter, some of which contain a sunken hymenial layer. Photographed with Nikon D-40x with manual 55 mm micro-Nikkor macro lens and 3 extension rings at f-22 (one second exposure).

Dimelaena radiata on north side of Owens Peak in shade.

Diploschistes scruposus, a saxicolous lichen growing on a granitic boulder. The similar D. muscorum typically grows on soil, other lichens and mosses. The inset photo shows two large, muriform spores and a cell of the phycobiont Trebouxia. The spores are slightly larger than those of D. muscorum (up to 40 µm long), and may occur 4-8 per ascus. Spores of D. muscorum generally do not exceed 30 µm in length and occur 4 per ascus.

The bright orange crustose lichen (Caloplaca) occurs sparingly on Owens Peak. It appears to be the coastal (Caloplaca bolacina) that also occurs on the Channel Islands.

Cladonia chlorophaea, a common soil lichen on shady, moss-covered banks and road cuts throughout the chaparral of coastal San Diego County. Although the flattened thallus resembles a foliose lichen, it is technically a fruticose lichen because of the upright structures called podetia that resemble miniature golf tees. The flowering plant is Jepsonia parryi, a native perennial that grows on shaded slopes among mosses, liverworts and lichens. The generic name commemorates Willis Linn Jepson, famous California botanist who wrote the original Manual of the Flowering Plants of California (1923).

Cladonia chlorphaea north side of Owens Peak in shade.

  Lichens In Palomar College Arboretum  


Owens Peak Liverworts Go To Owens Peak #7

A separate page (Owens Peak #7) has been devoted to these special, primitive, nonvascular plants. After winter rains they often appear in abundance but they are not commonly noticed by casual observers. During the summer & fall drought seasons they become desiccated until their spores germinate with the next rainy season.


Owens Peak Ferns

Cotton fern (Cheilanthes newberryi). This little fern grows in shady, rocky crevices on Owens Peak. It dies back and remains dormant during the drought months of summer and fall.

Silverback fern (Pentagramma triangularis ssp. viscosa). A little fern that grows in shady places, especially on the north side of Owens Peak. It also dies back and remains dormant during the drought months of summer and fall.

  The Rare Desert Silverback (ssp. maxonii) In Oriflamme Canyon  

Goldenback fern (Pentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis). Another little fern that grows in shady places, especially on the north side of Owens Peak. It also dies back and remains dormant during the drought months of summer and fall.

The underside of Goldenback fern leaf (Pentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis) is covered with minute black sporangia. According to the Jepson Manual they are along veins ± throughout underside, best seen on immature fertile leaf.

Above: Close-up view of the underside of a singe leaf division of goldenback fern leaf (Pentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis) showing numerous black sporangia. Each sporangium has a belt of white cells called an annulus. Left. Microscope image of a single sporangium showing annulus. The annulus is a special hygroscopic belt of cells around the sporangium. As the sporangium dries, cells of the annulus shrink. A differential thickening of the cell walls causes the curved annulus to straighten, thus ripping apart the thin-walled lip cells and releasing the spores.

Note: My out-of-date plant list including hills north of Palomar College lists other fern species; however, I am not certain if they all occur on Owens Peak proper. They are all in the Pteridaceae, along with the 3 above species: California maidenhair (Adiantum jordanii), scaly lip fern (Cheilanthes clevelandii), California cloak fern (Notholaena californica), coffee fern (Pellaea andromedifolia), and bird's foot fern (Pellaea mucronata var. mucronata).

  List Of Native & Naturalized Plants In The Hills North Of Palomar College  
Native & Naturalized Plants In The Hills Northwest Of Palomar College