Biodiversity & Conservation

Common orange lichen - Xanthoria parietina

Xanthoria parietina

Image Harvey Tyler-Walters - Xanthoria parietina on bark. Image width ca 5 cm.
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Distribution map

Xanthoria parietina recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

Why do the maps differ?

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Xanthoria parietina is not listed under any importance categories.

Taxonomy icon Taxonomy Taxon English term
Phylum Ascomycota Sac fungi
Class Lecanoromycetes
Authority (Linnaeus) Fries, 1860
Recent synonyms None
Map icon Recorded Distribution in Britain and Ireland Widespread across the British Isles, inland but commonest near the coast.
Habitat information icon Habitat information Xanthoria parietina may form a distinct narrow band on rocks and walls just above high water level. It also occurs inland on rocks, walls and bark. Common on nutrient rich areas such as beneath bird perching areas.
Text page icon Description A foliose lichen forming large, rounded patches up to 10 cm across, with wide, round-lipped marginal lobes. The thallus is yellowish green to greenish grey in shade but bright orange in brightly lit situations. In older specimens the centre of the thallus may die out. Lobes are long, wrinkled, over-lapping, up to 7 mm wide at the margin, and often turn up to reveal a white underside with root-like hairs. Lobes may be narrow in exposed conditions such as on the seashore. Fruiting bodies sit on the surface of the thallus and are composed of an orange disc with a paler margin, which may become crenulate. Fruiting bodes are most abundant in the centre of the thallus.
Identifying features
  • Thallus foliose, orange, with white underside and root-like hairs.
  • Thallus lobes, wrinkled, over-lapping, wider than 1 mm, up to 7 mm wide at margin.
  • Fruiting bodies with an orange disc surrounded by a raised paler margin, which becomes crenulate.
Additional information icon Additional information Dobson (2000) suggested that Xanthoria parietina was one of the most resistant foliose lichens to air pollution.

This review can be cited as follows:

Dr Harvey Tyler-Walters 2008. Xanthoria parietina. Common orange lichen. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 28/08/2015]. Available from: <>