This little-known lichen is characterised by a conspicuously bullate, squamulose grey thallus, black, strongly convex lecideine apothecia, thick paraphyses and small, usually one-septate ascospores, often pointed at one end. Until recently, it had been included in the genus Toninia sensu lato although it had been clear that it belongs to a different genus and even a family (Timdal 1992, Kistenich et al. 2018). Recently, the species was reclassified into the newly-described Gilbertaria, the only genus within Sphaerophoraceae that includes crustose lichens (Svensson & Fryday 2022). Among Czech lichens, the closely related species known as Catillaria contristans also belongs to the genus Gilbertaria.
Gilbertaria squalescens is an arctic-alpine species, usually growing on mossy cushions on siliceous rocks. It was described from Norway and is very rare in montane areas of central Europe. From the e Czech Republic, there are records from the 19th century (see the Vězda & Liška 1999 catalogue), mainly from the Sněžka Mt, from where it was described as Catillaria sphaeralis (Koerber 1861). In recent literature, the name is considered a synonym of Catillaria contristans, currently also included in the genus Gilbertaria. Both lichens used to be misunderstood and misidentified in the past. A detailed recent study (Svensson & Fryday 2022) showed that the type material of Catillaria sphaeralis (Koerber 1861) actually includes both species, which may grow together.
Literature: Koerber G. W. (1861): Parerga Lichenologica. Ergänzungen zum Systema Lichenum Germaniae. – Trewendt, Breslau. Timdal E. (1992): A monograph of the genus Toninia (Lecideaceae, Ascomycetes). – Opera Botanica 110: 1–137. Kistenich S., Timdal E., Bendiksby M. & Ekman S. (2018): Molecular systematics and character evolution in the lichen family Ramalinaceae (Ascomycota: Lecanorales). – Taxon 67: 871–904. Svensson M. & Fryday A. M. (2022): Gilbertaria, a first crustose genus in the Sphaerophoraceae (Lecanoromycetes, Ascomycota) for Catillaria contristans, Toninia squalescens and related species. – Mycological Progress 21: 90.taxonomic classification: most frequented synonyms:Catillaria sphaeralis, Toninia squalescens
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