Protopannaria pezizoides    (Weber) P. M. Jorg. & S. Ekman

Brown-gray Moss-shingle Lichen 

MN Status:
Federal Status:


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Minnesota range map
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North American range map
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Pannaria pezizoides, Pannaria brunnea, Collema brunneum

  Basis for Listing

Protopannaria pezizoides (brown-gray moss-shingle lichen) has a boreal-montane distribution pattern in North America (Jörgensen 2000). In the Great Lakes region, this species has been recorded from sites in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ontario, and Minnesota. Although P. pezizoides is widespread in boreal North America, it is a very rare species in Minnesota, where it has been recorded from fewer than five localities. Protopannaria pezizoides was listed as a threatened species in Minnesota in 2013.


Protopannaria pezizoides is a squamulose (having small scales) species, which may appear to be crustose (crust-like) due to the small size of the squamules. The thallus (lichen body) of P. pezizoides ranges in color from light grey to dark brown. The apothecia (disk-shaped fruiting bodies) are orange, with a distinct crenulate thalline margin and are usually abundant and often cover patches of this species. The surface of P. pezizoides'  spores are distinctly warty (Nash et al. 2001).

In Minnesota, P. pezizoides is relatively distinct but may superficially resemble members of the genus FuscopannariaProtopannaria pezizoides can be separated from species of Fuscopannaria based on a number of traits:  the apothecia of P. pezizoides are often aggregate, forming clusters that share a single crenulate margin, whereas the apothecia of species of Fuscopannaria are usually singular. Additionally, the spores of P. pezizoides have a warty surface, while the spores of Fuscopannaria species are smooth.


Protopannaria pezizoides grows on soil, rock, and bark. This species appears to require cool and moist micro environments (Brodo et al. 2001). In Minnesota, P. pezizoides has been collected from sheltered sites, including mossy rocks under an overhanging bank along a river, the base of a Thuja occidentalis (northern white cedar) in a forested rich peatland, and at the top of a north-facing cliff above a lake in the Boundary Waters. All Minnesota populations are located in the Northern Superior Uplands Section in Cook and Lake counties.

  Biology / Life History

Protopannaria pezizoides reproduces sexually. Spores are spread by wind, water, or potentially various animals and must land in suitable habitats. Once a spore has landed in a suitable area, it must find a specific algal partner in order for a thallus to form.

  Conservation / Management

Protopannaria pezizoides has likely always been rare in Minnesota. Although apparently suitable habitat occurs throughout much of northern Minnesota, this species has only been recorded from a handful of locations. The main threat to the survival of this species in Minnesota is likely certain forest management practices; however, any activity which could disrupt or alter the humidity of the areas where P. pezizoides occurs could be detrimental to populations.

  Best Time to Search

Protopannaria pezizoides can be observed year-round, whenever lichens are not covered by snow.

  References and Additional Information

Brodo, I. M., S. D. Sharnoff, and S. Sharnoff. 2001. Lichens of North America. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut. 795 pp.

Esslinger, T. L., and R. S. Egan. 1995. A sixth checklist of the lichen-forming, lichenicolous, and allied fungi of the continental United States and Canada. The Bryologist 98(4):467-549.

Jorgensen, P. M. 2000. Survey of the lichen family Pannariaceae on the American Continent, north of Mexico. The Bryologist 103(4):670-704.

Jorgensen, P. M. 2002. Protopannaria. Pages 4007-408 in T. H. Nash III, C. Gries, and F. Bungartz, editors. Lichen flora of the Greater Sonoran Desert region. Volume I. Lichens Unlimited, Arizona State University, Tempe.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2003. Field guide to the native plant communities of Minnesota: the Laurentian mixed forest province. Ecological Land Classification Program, Minnesota County Biological Survey, and Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota. 352 pp.

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