|Teloschistes chrysophthalmus - the Tangerine|
|The bush supporting the impressive Teloschistes chrysopthalmus - the|
'Tangerine', which can just be seen half way up on the left of the bush
|Illosporiopsis christiansenii, parasitic fungus on Physcia tenella|
Although Teloschistes chrysophthalmus does appear to be appearing ever increasingly in Southern and South-eastern England, its occurrence still seems to be patchy. It will be most interesting to continue to discover the parameters and associated species with which it appears. Cattle are frequent on the grassland around Beachy Head but the field behind us, and in the places I have recently seen Teloschistes are used as horse pasture. This observation is far from conclusive, but is one that seems to be worth considering. Certainly the smell of cattle urine in areas used intensively for their pasture can be overwhelming. The smell of horse is quite different. It seems possible that there might be a link.
Not far away from where we live, there is a church with a north wall covered in an ancient plaster giving ideal conditions for a rich lichen flora. Recently my wife and I visited it in the hope of finding that other newly recorded Sussex lichen Llimonaea sorediata. I must apologise here for the wrong spelling in my previously blog where I called it Llimonia. I was delighted to see large areas of the north wall were covered in pink, and this confirmed the first record of the species for East Sussex VC 14. It was a bitterly cold day, but the churchyard was surrounded with hawthorn and blackthorn bushes festooned with a healthy and varied lichen flora of just the sort that Teloschistes is associated with. A northerly wind made eyes water, and observation difficult. I was convinced I was going to find the first churchyard record for Teloschistes, but our suffering was to no avail. At that point, I had not thought about the possibility of an association with Physcia tenella, so I will have to go back and see if I can find it there.
Looking out of the window as I wrote the first part of this, the view was dominated by blizzard conditions. The chances of driving up minor roads lined with the sort of isolated hawthorn and blackthorn bushes of the Sussex downland were worse than remote. With a bit of luck, spring is just around the corner, but soon after any improvement, leaves will festoon suitable bushes making Teloschistes observation much more difficult.
Since writing this, a field meeting has taken place in Hampshire where Mark Jackson, now the undisputed Teloschistes King was able to show others a further eleven bushes with Teloschistes in another five new locations. It does seem that the wonderful Goldeneyes lichen is becoming a new, and very welcome aspect of our lichen flora. The reasons for its sudden appearance still seem to remain something of a mystery.