Lichen are composite organisms consisting of a fungus living together in a symbiotic relationship with a photosynthetic partner – green algae, cyanobacteria or both. The photosynthetic partner (photobiont) provides food for the fungus (mycobiont), which in return provides protection from excessive light and dessication as well as a “home” for the photobiont.
Ruffled freckle pelt is a common lichen usually found on mossy rocks, mossy soil and on the forest floor in Alaska, Canada, the Pacific Northwest, New England, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes Region of North America as well as in parts of Europe and Asia.
The vegetative bodies (thallus) of ruffled freckle pelt resemble large “leaves” with rounded lobes. Pale greyish green when dry, the thallus of ruffled freckle pelt turns bright green when wet. The green upper surface of the thallus has scattered cephalodia (cyanobacteria containing structures) that resemble dark warts. The lower surface of the lobes are white and contain veins that gradually darken from whitish near the margin to almost black at the base. White apothecia (structure containing an exposed spore surface) are on the upper surfaces of the ruffled freckle pelt lobe tips.
These ruffled freckle pelt were photographed along Burney Creek below Burney Falls (Shasta County CA).