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Plants of the Irish Uplands

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Date

DEVIL’S MATCHSTICKS

Order: Lecanorales       Family: Cladoniaceae

Species: Cladonia floerkeana
This is the time of year when this tiny plant is most impressive.Tiny stem tipped flowers appear in vibrant red.

 Commonly known as the nail lichen or the devil’s matchstick, is a species of lichen in the Cladonia family. It was originally described in 1803, and transferred to the genus Pilophorus in 1857. A fructicose (shrub-like) species, it grows directly on silicate rocks in dense clusters. The lichen starts out as a granular crust on the rock surface, and develops stalks, or pseudopodetia, up to 3 cm (1.2 in) tall and about 1 mm thick that have rounded black or red apothecia at the tips. The stalks are erect and curved so as to appeared combed. In addition to green algae, the lichen contains cyanobacteria that help contribute to soil fertility by supplying nitrogen.

It is also found in peaty soil and mossy rocks on heathland, also on rotting logs.