A Fresh Look at the Lichen Communities of the North Devon Coast

Along the north coast of Devon between Combe Martin and Countisbury a series of hog’s back hills falls away dramatically to vertical cliffs above the Bristol Channel. Here outcrops of Hangman Grits with north-facing underhangs are home to distinct and interesting communities of lichens which were recorded thoroughly almost 30 years ago. Recently lichenologists, Maxine Putnam and John Skinner, have been looking at these sites again and looking into possible reasons for a significant reduction in the number of Cladonia taxa found. A number of lichens not previously recorded at these coastal sites is being found with each visit.

Particularly impressive are the rock faces covered in exuberant Lecanora praepostera, L. ochroidea and Protoparmelia montagnei. Rarely seen lichens such as Fulvophyton sorediatum, Sparria endlicheri and Lithocalla ecorticata still thrive in the remote and relatively inaccessible north-facing underhangs along with the eye-catching Roccella phycopsis.