Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Peltigera aphthosa
Common freckle pelt in litter. Creative Commons photo by Steven. K. Sullivan @


SPECIES: Peltigera aphthosa
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Peltigera aphthosa. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions : 12 September 2013: Common name provided and Postfire Regeneration Strategies section added ABBREVIATION : PELAPH SYNONYMS : None NRCS PLANT CODE : PEAP60 COMMON NAMES : common freckle pelt felt lichen green dog lichen leafy lichen TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of common freckle pelt is Peltigera aphthosa (L.) Willd. (Peltigeraceae)[6,8,20,39]. LIFE FORM : Lichen FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Peltigera aphthosa
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Common freckle pelt is a circumpolar species in arctic, boreal, and temperate zones. In North America it is distributed throughout Canada and Alaska; south to the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, the Great Lakes states, New England, and in the Appalachians to North Carolina [16,17,32,39]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES22 Western white pine FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce FRES25 Larch FRES26 Lodgepole pine FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES37 Mountain meadows FRES44 Alpine STATES : AK AZ CA CO CT DE ID KY ME MD MA MI MN MT NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OR PA RI SD TN UT VT VA WA WV WI WY AB BC MB NB NF NT NS ON PE PQ SK YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 4 Sierra Mountains 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau 15 Black Hills Uplift KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest K003 Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest K004 Fir - hemlock forest K007 Red fir forest K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K013 Cedar - hemlock - pine forest K014 Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest K015 Western spruce - fir forest K025 Alder - ash forest K052 Alpine meadows and barren K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest K094 Conifer bog K095 Great Lakes pine forest K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest K106 Northern hardwoods K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES : 1 Jack pine 5 Balsam fir 12 Black spruce 13 Black spruce - tamarack 16 Aspen 18 Paper birch 30 Red spruce - yellow birch 31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech 32 Red spruce 33 Red spruce - balsam fir 34 Red spruce - Fraser fir 35 Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir 38 Tamarack 107 White spruce 201 White spruce 202 White spruce - paper birch 203 Balsam poplar 204 Black spruce 205 Mountain hemlock 206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir 207 Red fir 208 Whitebark pine 210 Interior Douglas-fir 212 Western larch 213 Grand fir 215 Western white pine 217 Aspen 218 Lodgepole pine 221 Red alder 222 Black cottonwood - willow 223 Sitka spruce 224 Western hemlock 225 Western hemlock - Sitka spruce 226 Coastal true fir - hemlock 227 Western redcedar - western hemlock 228 Western redcedar 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock 251 White spruce - aspen 252 Paper birch 253 Black spruce - white spruce 254 Black spruce - paper birch 256 California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Common freckle pelt occurs in various habitats, including open and closed coniferous forests, lichen woodlands, bogs, and high arctic, low arctic, sedge tussock, and shrub tundra [5,20,29,31,42]. In the southern extent of its range, common freckle pelt is generally restricted to alpine regions. The following publication classifies common freckle pelt as a dominant ground cover species in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and white spruce (Picea glauca) habitats: Vegetation types and environmental factors associated with Foothills Gas Pipeline Route, Yukon Territory [36] Shrub species commonly associated with common freckle pelt include bog Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), prickly rose (Rosa acicularis), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), mountain cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), bog blueberry (V. uliginosum), American green alder (Alnus viridis ssp. crispa), dwarf arctic birch (Betula nana), and willows (Salix spp.). Other associates include bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis), sheathed cottonsedge (Eriophorum vaginatum), horsetails (Equisetum spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), mosses (Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium schreberi, Sphagnum spp.), and other lichens (mainly Cladonia spp.) [7,24,27,30,33].


SPECIES: Peltigera aphthosa
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Although common freckle pelt is commonly found on central Alaskan rangelands, it is not a preferred forage species for caribou [18]. PALATABILITY : Common freckle pelt is of low palatability to caribou [2]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Common freckle pelt contains 17 to 21 percent crude protein. Foliose lichens such as common freckle pelt have a much lower carbohydrate content than the fruticose lichens highly preferred by caribou [35]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Common freckle pelt can fix "considerable" amounts of nitrogen [9]. Optimum fixation occurs in autumn at temperatures of 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (20-30 deg C) [20]. The ability of common freckle pelt to fix nitrogen is extremely reduced at an atmospheric pH below 6.0, and reduced fixation rates may be an indicator of acid rain. Acid rainfall in the eastern United States may severely inhibit nitrogenase activity in common freckle pelt and, as a result, reduce or eliminate its contribution of fixed nitrogen to the forest ecosystems where it is abundant [14]. Lichens are widely used as indicators of air pollution or air quality. Common freckle pelt is extremely susceptible to air pollution, especially that caused by sulfur dioxide and fluorides [28,35]. Lichens, including common freckle pelt, absorb radioactive fallout more readily than vascular plants. This radioactive material is then passed along the food chain [35]. Common freckle pelt readily absorbed aluminum and silicon from Mount St. Helens' ash emissions [28].


SPECIES: Peltigera aphthosa
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Common freckle pelt is a foliose lichen with a large thallus, sometimes over 3 feet (1 m) across. Individual lobes are up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and 2.5 inches (6 cm) broad. The thallus is bright green when moist and pale smoky green when dry. The upper surface is covered with small cephalodia. Apothecia are large and common [11,16,17,39]. The mycobiont (Ascomycete) comprises the bulk of the thallus; the algal component constitutes only 3 to 5 percent of the volume of the structure. Common freckle pelt has two photosynthetic members: a green alga in the genus Coccomyxa, and a blue-green cyanobacteria in the genus Nostoc. Both are capable of fixing carbon dioxide photosynthetically, which may be of competitive advantage in habitats of low annual insolation where P. aphthosa characteristically occurs. The Nostoc member is contained in the cephalodia and is capable of nitrogen fixation [1,9,14,32,37]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : NO-ENTRY REGENERATION PROCESSES : Lichen reproduction mainly occurs by means of thallus fragmentation or the dispersal of isidia and soredia. Wind, water, or animals play an important role in the dispersal of these vegetative propagules [1,16]. Common freckle pelt also produces many large apothecia [17,39]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Lichens, including common freckle pelt, are very dependent on high relative humidity, and their abundance is generally in direct relation to the relative humidity. They are better adapted to cold climates than any other life form. Lichens grow best in direct sun. Since common freckle pelt is able to take up moisture from the air, the underlying soil is not as important a source of moisture as it is to vascular plants. Peltigera aphthosa can grow on shallow, sterile soils [2]. It occurs in submontane to alpine zones on sites with subxeric to subhydric moisture regimes [5,19,22]. Common freckle pelt can endure more shade than most lichens [26]. It most commonly occurs on soil, rock, humus, moss, or fallen log substrates in moist forests [6,11,16,32,39]. It more rarely inhabits dry woodlands [2]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Lichens in general decline in productivity and quality in older stands [21]. Ahti [2] suggests that lichens may be pioneer plants on some sites because they are dependent on air moisture rather than soil moisture, and can tolerate shallow substrata. They persist in environments too harsh for higher plants, provided relative humidity is sufficiently high for lichen growth and temperature is sufficiently low to inhibit competitors. Northern boreal forests offer climatically optimal conditions for lichen growth because of slow rates of plant succession and little competition from other plant forms. Common freckle pelt is found in stable, mature forest ecosystems in west-central Alberta, including climax Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii)-subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) habitats [5,29]. It occurs in both old-growth (300 years) and second-growth (70 years) grand fir (Abies grandis) habitats in the Swan Valley, Montana, but is more abundant in the old-growth communities [25]. In Alaska, common freckle pelt is generally not found in frequently flooded areas [30]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Peltigera aphthosa
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Common freckle pelt does not generally occur in recently burned areas [21,26]. Lichens, including common freckle pelt, are highly flammable under dry conditions because they desiccate when relative humidity drops [12]. The fact that common freckle pelt commonly grows on humus or moss renders it highly liable to destruction by fire [26]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Initial off-site colonizer (off site, initial community) Secondary colonizer (on- or off-site spores)


SPECIES: Peltigera aphthosa
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Lichens, including common freckle pelt, are killed by fire [26]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Members of the genus Peltigera often establish in moss mats within 5 years following fire [43]. In burned areas, common freckle pelt may occur in the most lightly burned or unburned spots, and then spread out vegetatively [26]. In a black spruce (Picea mariana)/feather moss (Pleurozium schreberi)-Cladonia plant community in Alaska, common freckle pelt was present in unburned controls, but was not found on burned or fireline sites in the first 9 years after a fire [40]. Common freckle pelt did not survive severe burning in the Wickersham Dome Fire near Fairbanks, Alaska. On severely burned black spruce and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) sites, common freckle pelt was not present in the first 3 years following the fire. It had control plot frequencies of 20 and 5 percent, respectively [41]. Lichens, including common freckle pelt, were not present the first year after the 1950 Porcupine River Fire in Alaska. Other members of the genus Peltigera appeared by postfire year 4, but common freckle pelt appeared late and expanded very slowly for the next 30 years. It eventually became dominant among lichens on mineral soil [13]. Common freckle pelt had the following frequency and cover percentages on mesic black spruce sites in the taiga of interior Alaska [12]: Years since fire cover frequency _________________________________________________________________________ Newly burned 0-1 0 0 Moss-herb 1-5 >0.5 1.0 Tall shrub-sapling 5-30 1.0 9.0 Dense tree 30-55 >0.5 31.0 Mixed hardwood-spruce 56-90 >0.5 13.0 Spruce 91-200+ >0.5 2.0 DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : For information on prescribed fire and postfire responses of common freckle pelt and many plant species, see this Research Project Summary: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Lichens often serve as an initial point of ignition in woodlands and tundra, and have an essential role in the spread of fire. Lichens dry rapidly during periods of low relative humidity because of their absence of roots and water storage tissue, and low resistance to water loss. Dry lichens resemble dead litter more than live tissue in their susceptibility to fire. Continuous lichen mats present an uninterrupted surface along which fire spreads. They typically accumulate tree and shrub litter, which adds to their flammability [3]. The slow growth of lichens is widely recognized [2,38]. Lichen mats may take 70 to 100 years to regain former abundance [34]. However, some studies indicate that fire may increase lichen cover, especially where a thick moss carpet has developed [43]. In the northern boreal lichen belt, lichen mats may be increased by burning sphagnum peatlands, black spruce muskegs and forests, or tundra heaths. Fires in these communities results in lichen mats in some 40 to 50 years. Because black spruce and mosses occur in later seres than do lichens, good lichen growth persists for at least 100 years [2].


SPECIES: Peltigera aphthosa
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Juneau, AK: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 36 p. [7076] 27. Lynham, Timothy J.; Stocks, B. J. 1991. The natural fire regime of an unprotected section of the boreal forest in Canada. In: Proceedings, 17th Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1989 May 18-21; Tallahassee, FL. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 99-109. [17602] 28. Moser, Thomas J.; Swafford, James R.; Nash, Thomas H., III. 1983. Impact of Mount St. Helens' emissions on two lichen species of south- central Washington. Environmental and Experimental Botany. 23(4): 321-329. [20468] 29. Moss, E. H. 1955. The vegetation of Alberta. Botanical Review. 21(9): 493-567. [6878] 30. Neiland, Bonita J.; Viereck, Leslie A. 1977. Forest types and ecosystems. In: North American forest lands at latitudes north of 60 degrees: Proceedings of a symposium; 1977 September 19-22; Fairbanks, AK. [Place of publication unknown]. 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Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Range and Experiment Station: 209-230. [15730] 35. Sharnoff, Stephen. 1993. Use of lichens by wildlife in North America: A preliminary compilation. [Publisher unknown]. 20 p. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [21464] 36. Stanek, Walter. 1980. Vegetation types and environmental factors associated with Foothills Gas pipeline route, Yukon Territory. BC-X-205. Victoria, BC: Environment Canada, Canadian Forestry Service, Pacific Forest Research Centre. 48 p. [16527] 37. Stewart, W. D. P.; Rai, A. N.; Reed, R. H.; [and others]. 1981. Studies on the N2-fixing lichen Peltigera aphthosa. In: Current Perspectives in Nitrogen Fixation: 237-243. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]. 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A.; Dyrness, C. T.; Batten, A. R.; Wenzlick, K. J. 1992. The Alaska vegetation classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-286. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 278 p. [2431] 43. Viereck, Leslie A.; Schandelmeier, Linda A. 1980. Effects of fire in Alaska and adjacent Canada--a literature review. BLM-Alaska Tech. Rep. 6. Anchorage, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Mangement, Alaska State Office. 124 p. [7075] 44. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey. [n.d.]. NPLichen: A National Park Service lichen data base. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Research Unit, Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison. [23373]