Vulpicida canadensis “Brown-eyed Sunshine Lichen”

Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, MT
October 24, 2015
Robert Niese

These lichens are quite common east of the Cascades where they are regularly found on the low, bare branches of young conifers such as Pinus and Abies. It is not uncommon to see branches where almost all of the bark is obscured by lichen growth. In such instances, I regularly find eight or nine species within a few inches of each other. This particular specimen was found alongside BryoriaNodobryoria, Usnea, Letharia, two species of Cetraria, two (or three) species of Hypogymnia, as well as several crustose species I was unable to identify. That’s a lot of diversity for one tiny twig!

Vulpicida canadensis “Canadian Fox Killer/Brown-eyed Sunshine Lichen”

Blackfoot River Recreation Corridor (BLM), MT
April 23, 2014
Robert Niese


Members of the genus Vulpicida, like Wolf Lichen in the genus Letharia, contain usnic acid and vulpinic acid which gives them their characteristic neon yellow color. Also like Letharia, members of Vulpicida are also somewhat toxic and are associated with some Icelandic and Scandinavian folk tales where they’re used to kill foxes. This species is quite common in our PNW Ponderosa Pinelands and is normally found on small twigs alongside the metallic black lichen, Cetraria merrillii.