Lichen epiphytes on epiphytes of Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

Project Dates

2020 - Ongoing


Epiphytes are organisms that grow on woody plants but do not take nutrients or other resources from them. Our Santa Barbara Botanic Garden lichenologist studies epiphytic lichens growing on vascular plants that are themselves epiphytes high in the canopy of large and old coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) trees in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. It is the study of epiphytes on epiphytes! The lichen community on red huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium), evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) in the canopy is being compared to lichen epiphytes growing on coast redwood branches next to the vascular epiphyte. A multitude of lichen species have been found, including the red-listed old man’s beard (Usnea longissima), occupying huckleberry shrubs growing at 260 feet (79 meters) above the ground. The delightfully named fairy puke (Icmadophila ericetorum) has also been found growing on the top of a splintered and rotting redwood trunk that died perhaps 100 years ago. Since fairy puke prefers highly decomposed wood, it is normally found only on the ground and has only been recorded in the canopy once before.


To understand the lichen biodiversity in the epiphytic community of coast redwood trees

Team Members

Rikke Reese Naesborg, Ph.D.

Cameron Williams, Ph.D.

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