Elegant sunburst lichen is an arresting species. It is native to regions from the Arctic Circle north
and the Antarctic Circle south
(a circumpolar distribution), occurring on all continents except Australia as well,
especially at higher elevations.
Identification: Color is the principle identifier: bright
orange, dark orange, or red. Though it is quite thin, this is considered a foliose (leaf-like) lichen.
If it is wet, it swells.
If you peel some of it up, the lower surface is white. It is found on rocks, especially where birds
provide a steady source of nutrients, such as at seashores.
Xanthoria elegans (Link) Th. Fr., 1860 (photograph of a herbarium specimen taken through a dissecting microscope (x40) showing convex, reddish-orange lobes) Growing on rock in surf, along Highway 17, 3.4 miles N from Pancake Bay Provincial Park entrance, Ontario, Canada; collected and identified by Richard E. Riefner (No. 81-306, 27 Jun 1981); specimen is now in the Lichen Herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden. From Ed Uebel.