Cryptothele hiems radeplasticus

Coconino National Forest

2016 - 2023

During the winter of 2016, while working on my project Spring Flowers, I discovered new lichens attached to the rocks in the Coconino National Forest. I documented some of the lichens and took the photographs to several botanists at the local university to help me try and identify them.

I learned that there are three main types of lichens: Crustose, Foliose and Fruticose.

These new lichens did not belong to the Crustose type, illustrated by their familiar rim and bowl forms distinguished by the genus Leconora. They did however seem to be more of the combination of the Foliose and Fruticose, but we questioned the Foliose, because of the absence of the plate like thalli with its leafy character. They suggested to be more in line with the Fruticose and its stringy nature, but they had the variety of colors found in the Crustose with their greens, oranges, blues, purples and pinks.

Were they a combination of all three types, having reproduced into a new species?

One thing for certain was their habitat. These relatively new lichen tend to grow on downward facing gradual slopes, living on rocks that stick out above the snow and multiply in the winter. In the end, they have never been described, identified or classified. So, after several years of research and collecting, I have declared them to be a new species in order to maintain their nomenclatural stability: Cryptothele hiems radeplasticus.