Endocarpon pusillum (hedwig)

Endocarpon pusillum is an unusual lichen, because the algal component is not only found in the vegetative body, but also in the spore-forming fruiting body. This means it can be dispersed along with the fungal partner.

Endocarpon pusillum

The lichen species Endocarpon pusillum grows on soils and forms squamules up to about 4mm. © C Gueidan

This characteristic probably helps the lichen colonise otherwise bare substrates.

The species often grows in areas where land is grazed by farm animals. As agricultural practices have changed, however, the lichen has become less common and may even be extinct in the UK.

Species detail

  • Endocarpon pusillum

    Find out how to recognise Endocarpon pusillum.

  • Typical grassland habitat of Endocarpon pusillum

    Endocarpon pusillum is found worldwide, in arid and cool to temperate regions. It colonises bare soils and contributes to soil conservation. Find out more.

  • Endocarpon pusillum

    A lichen is two distinct organisms - a fungus and an alga - living symbiotically. Find out where the algae live and how this long-term partnership benefits both species.

  • Grazing animals - sheep

    Changes in farming practices have led to the decline of Endocarpon pusillum. Find out why.

  • Endocarpon pusillum

    Get more information on Endocarpon pusillum.


Bare landscape and horizon

A typical landscape habitat for Endocarpon pusillum.

© A Wolff - CEEP
Endocarpon pusillum

Biotic soil crust formed of Endocarpon pusillum, cyanobacteria (Nostoc) and mosses.

© C Gueidan
Endocarpon pusillum

Squamule of Endocarpon pusillum with several fruiting bodies.

© C Gueidan
Endocarpon pusillum

Endocarpon pusillum.

About the author
image general

Researching lichen systematics, evolution, symbiosis and photobionts.

Author's quote

"This species seems to have become rare in the UK, most probably because of habitat loss. Historically, Endocarpon pusillum has been used in many experiments on lichen development. Conservation measures are necessary to protect this biologically-interesting lichen species."

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Plural of ascus - sexual spore-bearing cells.


Regular, brick wall-like arrangement.


Bottle-shaped fruiting body.


Hairlike growths that bind the thallus to its substrate.


A small, loosely attached thallus lobe - vegetative structure.


Close and long-term interaction between two different species.


Vegetative body.