Freckle Pelt Lichen
"Spotted Dog Lichen"
General - leaf lichen, loosely attached; lobes broad, 2 - 5 cm wide, dull grey-green when dry, bright green when moist, bearing scattered 'warts'; lower surface veinless or with broad, cottony, inconspicuous veins, that darken abruptly inward from the lobe tips; fruiting bodies large, reddish to blackish brown, on upper surface of extended lobes.
On moss, humus, decaying logs, and occasionally rocks, typically in forested areas; very common and widespread across Northwestern Ontario's boreal forest north to Arctic; occasional in northern parkland; circumpolar..
Freckle pelt is often confused with P. leucophlebia, which has conspicuous, well-developed veins that darken only gradually towards the centre. Both lichens undergo a dramatic colour change from grey-green to bright green, with wetting. The brown to black dots or 'warts' on the upper surface of freckle pelt contain tiny colonies of cyanobacteria, which supply the lichen with nitrogen. These organisms can extract nitrogen from the air and supply this nutrient to the lichen fugus and its green algal partner. Freckle pelt is a symbiosis among representatives of 3 of the 5 kingdoms of life - Monera, Protista, and Fungi. *Mountain caribou forage for this lichen in winter. The name Peltigera is from the Latin pelta, 'a light shield', referring to the round shieldlike apothecia. The species name, aphthosa, is from the Greek aphthai, 'an eruption or pustule', referring to the scattered dark 'warts' on the upper surface of this lichen. In the 1800's Swedish peasants believed that miliary fever was caused by the elf-mote or by meeting with elves, and they sought freckle pelt and dog pelt as a remedy. Freckle pelt lichen was also boiled in Scandinavia to make a wash for treating chapped skin on adults' feet and babies' bottoms.
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