Lichen – Golf Tee Moss

Q: We encountered this patch of plants on the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama back in the fall. We named it Golf Tee Moss. Does have a real name ?

A: I see more than one organism in your picture. The green stuff is true moss, maybe two or three kinds.

The things you named “Golf Tee Moss” are actually lichens. You’ve seen crusty gray lichens on tree trunks and boulders but this type lichen has a very distinct form. The cup at the top is called a podetia. It contains soredia, a mass of fungus and algae mixed together.

The lichen is a Cladonia of some sort. There are several distinct species. For more information than you ever wanted to know about lichens, see

Fruticose Lichens

Scroll about half way down to see your lichens.