Species: Yellow Scales (Xanthoria parietina)


Category: Fungi

Location: Widespread

A. Fungi

More extensive information on fungi can be found in a separate blog post.


The family of Teloschistaceae lichens consists of around 800 different species. Most occur in temperate and subtropical regions and live on rock or bark. Many lichens in this group have a vibrant orange or yellow hue.

NOTE: there are perhaps 120 families of lichen species. None of these have an English common name. We have therefore given them all the shared family name of ‘Lichens’. Although this is scientifically incorrect, it is better than saying something like ‘No English family name’. It also enables us to list all lichens on the search page by using this term.

C. Yellow Scales (Xanthoria parietina)

Xanthoria parietina is tolerant of pollution and heavy metal contamination, and is found in urban, coastal and rural locations. In the cemetery it is found on gravestones and the branches of trees. In times past it was used as a treatment for jaundice on account of its yellow colour, but more recently it has been investigated for antiviral properties.

This commonly-found lichen is a foliose or leafy lichen that grows on both stone and on trees. It develops cup-like apothecia discs, often only visible under magnification.

More information on this lichen species can be found on:

Additional Information

Lichens - background information

A lichen is not a single organism, but a collaboration between a fungus and another organism that is able to manufacture nutrients that the fungus cannot. This association is called symbiosis, and the fungus combines with an alga or a cyanobacterium, both of which produce nutrients by photosynthesis. This combination results in a body called a thallus. Each lichen has a unique fungus, whereas some algae and cyanobacteria enter into association with many different fungi, algae being the more common partner of the two. Lichens have different properties to those of the component organisms, and many different structures and colours. Lichens grow on many types of surface, and in a variety of environmental conditions, but are nutritionally self-contained so are not parasitic. When seen growing along the branches of a tree, for example, they are simply using the tree for support. They may be found growing in some of the most extreme habitats on the planet. Their names may be misleading; ‘reindeer moss’ is a lichen, and not related to mosses, which are non-flowering plants.

Lichens have many growth forms of the vegetative body parts, or fungal filaments, collectively called the thallus. These forms are:

  • fruticose (tiny, leafless branches)
  • foliose (flat, leaf-like structures)
  • crustose (crust-like flakes like peeling paint)
  • leprose (powdery appearance)
  • squamulose (tightly clustered, pebble-like forms)
  • filamentous (hair-like)

October 2023 Lichen survey - acknowledgements

We are grateful to Neil Sanderson and Dr. Paul Cannon of the British Lichen Society, who freely gave their time and expertise to conduct a survey of the lichens in Heene Cemetery on 9th October 2023. The species listed here was identified during this survey.


Yellow Scales (Xanthoria parietina)

Yellow Scales is a lichen that is tolerant of pollution and heavy metal contamination. It is found in urban, coastal and rural locations. In the Cemetery it is found on gravestones and on twigs and branches.

[Because of the difficulty in photographing these small organisms, we have made an exception to our general rule of only using photographs that have been taken in Heene Cemetery. If and when we manage to take a photograph of this lichen, we will replace this royalty-free, stock image.]

(Photo credit: Paul Cannon, showing "Xanthoria parietina, thallus on maritime granite, Co. Mayo, Republic of Ireland", Creative Commons License.)