Then we gather, as we travel
bits of moss and dirty gravel,
and we chip off little specimens of stone;
And we carry home as prizes,
funny bugs of handy sizes
just to give the day a scientific tone.
-Charles Edward Carryl

And so it was that day in June 2011 during the OMLA Summer Foray into Defiance County, Ohio that I brought home lichen specimens ‘just to give the day a scientific tone’ from several cemetery headstones and trees.

Among those identified I set aside two samples of what I called, with some reservation, Hyperphyscia adglutinata. I later determined each needed a second opinion to be sure of their identity before adding to the list of species to be submitted to OBELISK. Dr. Theodore L. Esslinger, specialist in the lichen family Physciaceae, North Dakota State University, agreed to examine them.

His response expressed his interest since he and two colleagues were currently studying the species in the genus Hyperphyscia and he found these Ohio specimens matched their newly described species named Hyperphyscia confusa Essl.

Hyperphyscia adglutinata is a fairly common species found from New England to Florida, westward into the central prairies (with a disjunction, to California). Hyperphyscia confusa appeared to be mostly confined to the central prairies from Texas northward into Canada and eastward to only western Michigan, Iowa, and Missouri. The Ohio material extended this range, at least, into western Ohio.

Hyperphyscia adglutinata is a closely attached, gray-brown species, with mostly laminal, orbicular soralia, usually found on twigs and smooth bark where it easily blends in with its substrate and is often overlooked. Hyperphyscia confusa, on the other hand, is less closely attached, often with lobe tips ascending, usually lighter in color, with mostly marginal, crescent or lip-shaped soralia (if laminal, the soralia are more irregular in shape than that of H. adglutinata), and usually found on rough bark.

Voucher specimens of H. confusa are being deposited in the Herbarium at the Museum of Biological Diversity (OSU). I wish to thank Dr. Esslinger for his determinations and Cynthia Dassler for deposition the vouchers.

Don Flenniken
(published in OBELISK, Vol. 9, p. 2)