Eastern Candlewax Lichen

(Ahtiana aurescens)

Conservation Status
Eastern Candlewax Lichen
Photo by Luciearl
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

S3 - Vulnerable


not listed


Eastern Candlewax Lichen is a medium-sized lichen that grows on the bark of cedar and pine trees, rarely on hardwood trees. It is found in undisturbed old growth forests, where the dense shade, high humidity, and the texture of the substrate (bark), combine to create ideal conditions for its proliferation. In Minnesota, it is usually found in northern white cedar swamps. It often grows alongside American Starburst Lichen (Imshaugia placorodia) on pine trees.

The vegetative body (thallus) is leaf-like (foliose) and divided into large branches (lobes). It grows close to but loosely attached to the substrate (bark) by short, pale, sparse to abundant, anchoring structures (rhizines). The lobes may be flat and branching or crowded and overlapping. The upper surface is yellowish-green and usually wrinkled. It does not have powdery dull granules (soredia), shiny granules (isidia), or a chalky or “frosted” surface (pruina). The lower surface is pale brown, smooth, and shiny. Small, lobe-like reproductive structures (lobules) are usually produced on the margins of the lobes. The lobules are round and 1 64 to 1 16 (0.5 to 2 mm) in diameter.

Disk-like, spore-producing structures (apothecia) are usually abundant. The disks are 1 16to ¼ (2 to 7 mm) in diameter, reddish-brown, slightly raised, and shaped like a plate. They appear near the margins on the upper surface. Each disk has a ring of tissue around it that resembles the tissue of the vegetative (non-fruiting) part of the lichen. There are also tiny, globular chambers (pycnidia) embedded in the thallus with an opening through which fungal spores are released. The pycnidia look like black pinpricks in the thalus and are very conspicuous.

The photosynthetic partner (photobiont) is green and may be Trebouxia, but lichen photobionts are difficult to identify.


Similar Species

  Yellow Ribbon Lichen (Allocetraria oakesiana) has yellowish granules (soredia) on the margins.  





Growth Form






Old growth forests.




Cedar and pine trees.


Distribution Map



4, 6, 24, 26, 29, 30, 72, 77.

The records from Rosseau and Lake of the Woods Counties were in 1901. Eastern Candlewax Lichen is now considered “possibly extirpated” in those counties.





  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Phylum Ascomycota (sac fungi)  
  Subphylum Pezizomycotina  
  Class Lecanoromycetes (common lichens)  
  Subclass Lecanoromycetidae (shield lichens, sunburst lichens, rosette lichens, and allies)  


Lecanorales (shield lichens, rim lichens, and allies)  




Parmeliaceae (shield lichens and allies)  
  Subfamily Parmelioideae (typical shield lichens)  


Ahtiana (candlewax lichens)  
  Mycobiont Ahtiana aurescens  
  Photobiont Trebouxia?  



Cetraria aurescens

Tuckermannopsis aurescens


Common Names


Eastern Candlewax Lichen










An open, disk-shaped or cup-shaped, reproductive structure, with spore sacs on the upper surface, that produces spores for the fungal partner of a lichen. Plural: apothecia.



Adjective: Leaf-like growth form; referring to lichens with leaf-like growths divided into lobes.
Noun: The leaf-like, vegetative body of a lichen (thallus) that has thin, flat lobes which are free from the substrate.



A small lobe-like subdivision of a lobe. In lichens, a small lobe-like, asexual, reproductive structure produced at the edge of a lobe, breaks off, and reestablishes elsewhere.



The photosynthetic partner of a lichen; either green algae or cyanobacteria.



On lichens, a thin, powdery or crystaline deposit on the surface of the thalus. It may appear chalky or frosty, and is usually white, gray, or bluish.



A root-like structure of a lichen that attaches the lower layer to the substrate.



An asexual reproductive structure of a lichen in the form of a tiny dull granule on the thallus surface that can be easily brushed off. It consists of a cluster of algal cells (the photobiont) wrapped in fungal filaments (the mycobiont), but without an outer layer of protective tissue (cortex). Plural: soredia.



The vegetative body of a lichen composed of both the alga and the fungus.

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Location: Cass County

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Created: 9/16/2018

Last Updated:

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