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Evernia mesomorpha Nyl.

Boreal oakmoss, ring lichen

KingdomFungiMushrooms, lichens, gel fungi, yeasts, and molds; also called eukaryotes
DivisionAscomycotaSac fungi
SubdivisionPezizomycotinaSac fungi with filaments
ClassLecanoromycetes“Lichenized” fungi
OrderLecanoralesMostly lichen-forming fungi
FamilyParmeliaceaeIncludes many common lichens such as Xanthoparamelia, Usnea, Parmotrema, and Hypotrachyna

About plant names...

Boreal oakmoss is found in coniferous forests in cooler climates. In North America, it is found throughout Canada and in the northern United States.

Identification: This is a fruticose (shrublike) lichen, though its thicker branches remind me a bit of antlers. (Beard lichens and reindeer lichens have thinner branches.) Boreal oakmoss is a pale yellowish green, and the branches are pliable, not brittle. Branches are wrinkled and irregular, more so if tiny reproductive structures called soredia are present.

Edibility: Contains usnic acid, which causes severe dermatitis in some people, and, although this is not confirmed, may cause liver damage if eaten.

Online References:

Stephen Sharnoff Photography

The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Lichens Growing on Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) Trees in the Northeast

Wikimedia Commons


Walewski, Joe, Lichens of the North Woods, Kollath+Stensaas Publishing, 2007, p. 133

Evernia thamnodes (Flotow) Arnold


Evernia mesomorpha description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Evernia mesomorpha (boreal oakmoss, ring lichen)

8/15/2015 · Grafton Notch State Park, Newry, Maine · ≈ 6 × 4″ (16 × 10 cm)

Evernia mesomorpha (boreal oakmoss, ring lichen)

4/7/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 4½ × 7″ (11 × 17 cm) ID is uncertain

Evernia mesomorpha (boreal oakmoss, ring lichen)

8/22/2020 · Kettle Hole Bog, Hidden Valley Nature Center, Jefferson, Maine · ≈ 6 × 4″ (14 × 10 cm)

Evernia mesomorpha (boreal oakmoss, ring lichen)

4/19/2013 · Squannacook River Wildlife Area, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 5 × 3½″ (13 × 9.2 cm)