Teloschistes flavicans

Common Name(s)

Golden-hair lichen

Description & Identification

The bright orange-yellow colour, combined with the "brillo pad"- like clumps of finely divided thallus, make this a highly distinctive species. It is unlikely, where it occurs on the ground,  to be confused with any other than the extremely rare Teloschistes crysophthalmus (which has never been recorded in Wales). When it occurs on trees it can sometimes (especially when wet) take on a grey-green colour and then it may be taken from a distance as an Usnea species.

A few fertile specimens were collected in Cornwall in the 19th C but it has not been found fertile in Britain since.

Chemical reaction: K+ purple

Teloschistes flavicans

Photo: Alan Hale


Mostly short turf anchored to other lichens, or bryophytes, in coastal situations but is also occasionally found epiphytic on trees or shrubs. The Lichen Atlas account says: "On siliceous rock (especially granite), soil, Calluna, twigs of shrubs such as Prunus spinosa, and the boles and boughs of well-lit trees, especially Acer pseudoplatanus and Fraxinus. Known from 12 phorophytes but apparently extinct on apple."


Cosmopolitan in dry, sunny, warm temperate areas of both Hemispheres. SW England, SW and NW Wales, SW Ireland.



Records from Wales


Location Grid Reference Recorder Year Last Rec SSSI
Anglesey: Llanddwyn Island, Newborough Warren SH 38 62 J. Ratcliffe 2008 Yes
Anglesey: Porth Dafarch, Ynys Gybi SH 23 79? M.A. & L.A. Howe 1996 Yes
Caernarfon: Mynydd Cilan Peninsula, Lleyn SH2885 2388 D. Lamacraft 2011 Yes
Caernarfon: Ynys Enlli/Bardsey Island SH 12 20,21,22 ? 1995 ? Yes
Caernarfon: Pen y Cil, Lleyn SH 15 24 V.J. Giavarini 2004 Yes
Caernarfon: Mynydd Penarfynydd, Lleyn SH2125, SH2126 V.J. Giavarini 2004 Yes
Caernarfon: Mynyd Bychestyn, Lleyn SH 150 244 B. Edwards 2002 Yes
Montgomery: Moel y Golfa (nr. Breidden Hill) SJ 28 12 ? pre-1900 Yes
Pembroke: Dinas Fawr, Solva SM 81 22 P.Wolseley & P. James 1997 Yes
Pembroke: Stackpole Head SR 992 948 P.W. James 1978? Yes
Pembroke: Saddle Point, Broadhaven SR 981 940 B. Edwards 2007 Yes
Pembroke: Martinshaven Deer Park SM 754 090 S.D.S. Bosanquet 2001 Yes
Pembroke: Manorbier SS 05907 97286 CCW District Team 2008 Yes
Pembroke: Ramsey Island SM 694 235 A.D. Hale 2008 Yes
Pembroke: Skomer Island SM 717 097 Wardening Staff 2008 Yes
Pembroke: Skomer Island SM 714 093 Wardening Staff 2008 Yes
Pembroke: Skomer Island SM 714 089 Wardening Staff 2008 Yes
Pembroke: Skokholm Island SM70 (6 sites) Wardening Staff 2007 Yes
Pembroke: Trewellwell SM 798 267 Purvis &  James 1995 No
Pembroke: Orielton SR 954 990 C. Hurford ? ` 2005? No
Pembroke: Picton Castle SN 00 13 O'Leo ? pre-1990? No
Pembroke: Broomhill Burrows SM 88 00 P.W. James pre-1996 Yes?

 There are a number of other historical records for Wales (see NBN Gateway map), but these are too unlocalised to be worth including here.

Notes on individual locations

Porth Dafarch - reported in Samuel Brewster's diaries as far back as 1727. The 1996 records are from Mike and Liz Howe. They made some detailed notes and these are thought to be in the CCW District files.

Llanddwyn Island - population apparently quite robust and is checked on every year by NNR staff.

Manorbier - population is tiny and very vulnerable.

Mynydd Bychestyn - 14 plants recorded here by Bryan Edwards during his Plantlife Heterodermia leucomela survey, 2002

Mynydd Penarfynydd - This sites supports a major population, probably the largest in mainland Wales. Surveyed in detail by Vince Giavarini in 2004, who reported 46 colonies and 500+ plants. National Trust managed. Due for re-survey.

Picton Castle - Recorded by Leighton in 1889 (presumably epiphytic). Surveys by Peter James in 1987 and 1995 failed to refind it, though the site was found to be good for ancient woodland indicator species. In 1995 a recently retired former gardener (O'Leo?) told the surveyors he had seen it on a tree cut down some years earlier.

Broomhill Burrows - Teloschistes was apparently seen here on blackthorn by Peter James (1980s?). Ray Woods and Alan Hale searched for it in 2004 but failed to refind. The only blackthorn we could find was outside the SSSI.

Trewellwell - Originally recorded in 1959 (on Sambucus and other trees). In 1994 William Purvis and Peter James confirmed its presence here on 2 mature Fraxinus at a height of 30-40 m (binoculars). Alan Hale visited in 1996 but failed to re-find. Needs a re-visit.

Pen y Cil - only 4 small populations found here in 2004. Site may be too intensively grazed.

Orielton - originally observed here on a fallen ash, it was later discovered to be present on at least one still-standing tree (a sycamore?) 5-6 m high. Apparently it has been lost from the sycamore due to shading from ivy.

Moel y Golfa - presumably was epiphytic here, but there are no recent records. Has anyone searched for Teloschistes at this site?

Mynydd Cilan peninsula -  There is a 1976 record in the NBN Gateway given as Mynydd Cilan Cliffs and with an erroneous grid reference (SH278245 - in the sea). A survey in 2004 failed to find Teloschistes on the site. However, Dave Lamacraft from RSPB discovered a population in 2011 near Trwyn y Fulfran at SH288238 consisting of 4 patchs covering a total of about 700 sq cm.

Proposed Actions
  UKBAP Signposting Actions:


Monitor habitat condition and species, at least every 6 years, at subset of extant site to ensure that the coastal heathland habitat is not over burnt and that the population is not subjected to shading by shrub encroachment (may require some burning management) or climbing plants and modify management accordingly.
2. Consider Tree Preservation Orders where the species occurs on wayside and roadside trees


Hectad Distribution in Wales/Link to full BLS map

Teloschistes flavicans

NBN Taxon Key

Giavarini, V.J. (2004). Threatened lichens survey of Lleyn Peninsula, Wales. Plantlife report.

Hale, A.D. (1996)Teloschistes flavicans (the Golden-hair lichen) at Manorbier, S. Pembrokeshire. A report on its condition following the Sea Empress oil spill. CCW Regional Report.

Hale, A.D. (2004)Teloschistes flavicans (the Golden-hair lichen) on Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire.

Purvis, O.W. & James. P.W. (1995). An assessement of Teloschistes flavicans in Pembrokeshire.

Wolseley, P. & James. P.W. (1997). Resurvey and monitoring of Teloschistes flavicans in Pembrokeshire. CCW Regional Report