Tree lungwort

Lobaria pulmonaria

''Lobaria pulmonaria'' is a large epiphytic lichen consisting of an ascomycete fungus and a green algal partner living together in a symbiotic relationship with a cyanobacterium—a symbiosis involving members of three kingdoms of organisms. Commonly known by various names like tree lungwort, lung lichen, lung moss, lungwort lichen, oak lungs or oak lungwort, it is sensitive to air pollution and is also negatively affected by habitat loss and changes in forestry practices.
Tree Lungwort on Silver Birch Wonderful sign of clean air! Lobaria pulmonaria,Tree lungwort,Wester Ross


It is a foliose lichen and its leaf-like thallus is green, leathery and lobed with a pattern of ridges and depressions on the upper surface. Bright green under moist conditions, it becomes brownish and papery when dry.

This species often has a fine layers of hairs, a tomentum, on its lower surface. The cortex, the outer protective layer on the thallus surface, is roughly comparable to the epidermis of a green plant.

The thallus is typically 5–15 centimetres in diameter, with individual lobes 1–3 centimetres wide and up to 7 cm long. The asexual reproductive structures soredia and isidia are present on the thallus surface.

Minute cephalodia—pockets of cyanobacteria—are often present on the lower surface of the thallus; these spots are conspicuously darker than the green surface of the thallus. Like other foliose lichens, the thallus is only loosely attached to the surface on which it grows.
Lobaria pulmonaria - Three Kingdoms in One This unique creature actually consists of three different kingdoms living together in a symbiotic relationship. It is known commonly as tree lungwort, and is made up of a fungi and an algae, creating a lichen, and a cyanobacterium. Pretty amazing seeing three members from three different kingdoms living together! Captured in North Idaho. Algae,Bacteria,Fungi,Geotagged,Idaho,Lichen,Lobaria pulmonaria,United States,fall,symbiosis


It has a wide distribution in Europe, Asia, North America and Africa, preferring damp habitats with high rainfall, especially coastal areas.
The Top and the Bottom of Lobaria pulmonaria, Lungwort. In our area the only time we see this lichen is after a strong wind. The lichen grows somewhat epiphytically on Largeleaf Maples in our mature forests. The Pacific Sideband snail feeds on this lichen and in the spring sometimes gets blown off the maple trees along with the lichen. The soredia appear as white balls on the ridges and the apothecia appear as brown saucers on the edges of the thallus.
 Canada,Geotagged,Lobaria pulmonaria,Tree lungwort


Due to declining population, ''L. pulmonaria'' is considered to be rare or threatened in many parts of the world, especially in lowland areas of Europe. The decline has been attributed to industrial forestry and air pollution, particularly acid rain. ''L. pulmonaria'', like other lichens containing a blue-green algal component, are particularly susceptible to the effects of acid rain, because the subsequent decrease in pH reduces nitrogen fixation through inhibition of the algal nitrogenase enzyme.
Soredia and Apothecia... ... of Lobaria pulmonaria. Canada,Geotagged,Lobaria pulmonaria,Tree lungwort


''L. pulmonaria'' has the ability to form both vegetative propagation and sexual propagules at an age of about 25 years.

In sexual reproduction, the species produces small reddish-brown discs known as apothecia containing asci, from which spores are forcibly released into the air. Based on studies of ascospore germination, it has been suggested that ''L. pulmonaria'' spores use some mechanism to inhibit germination—the inhibition is lifted when the spores are grown in a synthetic growth medium containing an adsorbent like bovine serum albumin or α-cyclodextrin.

Dispersal by vegetative propagules has been determined as the predominant mode of reproduction in ''L. pulmonaria''. In this method, the protruding propagules become dry and brittle during the regular wet/dry cycles of the lichen, and can easily crumble off the thallus. These fragments may develop into new thalli, either at the same locale or at a new site after dispersal by wind or rain.

A number of steps are required for the development of the vegetative propagules, including the degeneration of the thallus cortex, replication of green algal cells, and entanglement of fungal hyphae with the green algal cells. This steps lead to an increase in internal pressure which eventually breaks through the cortex. Continued growth leads to these granules being pushed upwards and out of the thallus surface.
Lobaria pulmonaria Lobaria pulmonaria (Tree Lungwort Lichen) growing on a black ash (Fraxinus nigra) tree in a hardwood swamp. Fraxinus nigra,Geotagged,Lobaria pulmonaria,Tree lungwort,United States,Winter,black ash,black ash swamp,hardwood swamp,lungwort lichen


''L. pulmonaria'' has also been used to produce an orange dye for wool, in the tanning of leather, in the manufacture of perfumes and as an ingredient in brewing.


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SpeciesL. pulmonaria