Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen

(Polycauliona polycarpa)

Conservation Status
Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen is common across North America and Europe. It is found in humid microclimates on bark, usually on twigs.

The vegetative body (thallus) is leaf-like (foliose) and divided into small branches (lobes). It forms colonies up to 1¼ in diameter or larger. It grows tightly attached to the substrate (bark) but does not have root-like structures (rhizines). The lobes are flat to convex and 1 64 to 1 32 (1.2 to 0.7 mm) wide. The upper surface is yellow to bright orange and smooth, sometimes somewhat shiny. It does not produce powdery dull granules (soredia) or shiny granules (isidia). There are also tiny, globular chambers (pycnidia) embedded in the thallus with an opening through which fungal spores are released. The pycnidia are inconspicuous and difficult to see because they are the same color as the thallus or only slightly darker. The lower surface of the thallus is white and somewhat wrinkled. It has scattered, short, peg-like structures (hapters) attaching the thallus to the substrate.

Disk-like, spore-producing structures (apothecia) are extremely abundant, sometimes covering the entire thallus. The disks are stalked, orange, up to 3 16 (4.5 mm) in diameter, and shaped like a plate. They are usually smooth but sometimes wrinkled. Each disk has a ring of tissue around it that resembles the tissue of the thallus.


Similar Species

Habitat and Hosts

On bark. Humid.






Distribution Map



4, 24, 26, 29, 30.





  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Division Ascomycota (sac fungi)  
  Subdivision Pezizomycotina  
  Class Lecanoromycetes (common lichens)  
  Subclass Lecanoromycetidae  
  Order Teloschistales  
  Suborder Teloschistineae  
  Family Teloschistaceae  
  Subfamily Xanthorioideae  
  Genus Polycauliona  
  Mycobiont Polycauliona polycarpa  

This species was formerly classified as Xanthoria polycarpa. In 2013 it was moved to the genus Polycauliona. Most print and online sources still use the old name.




Lecanora candelaria var. polycarpa

Teloschistes polycarpus

Xanthoria polycarpa


Common Names


Orange Lichen

Orange Wall Lichen

Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen

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



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

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Alfredo Colon

    Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen   Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen  
    Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen   Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen  
    Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen      








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  Alfredo Colon
5/30 to 6/1/2021

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen  






Created: 5/13/2019

Last Updated:

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