Distribution and Ecology
Primary thallus as colonies covering several cm² with scattered groups of squamules; squamules irregularly divided, ascending to flat-lying, upper side pale yellow-grey, wrinkled-sculptured, to 3 mm high and equally broad. Upper cortex uncoloured (in section), almost cartilaginous, 10–45 µm high, with elongated lumina oriented towards surface but walls often indistinct. Lower cortex absent. Medullary tissue with algae 350–370 µm high, ending in fairly uniform, short hyphae ends; hyphae c. 2.5 µm diam. Lower surface whitish, not arachnoid, yellow-orange at base, with indistinct veins.
Podetia rare, arising from squamule lamina, pale yellow-grey, tapering, with an open end, up to 6 mm high and 1 mm broad, corticated, in upper part with erect squamules, in lower part without squamules but cortex fissured. Uppermost part often eroded in some podetia.
Apothecia not observed.
Pycnidial gel brownish.
Chemistry: Thamnolic acid ( major), decarboxythamnolic acid (minor), diacetylgracilliform acid (minor), monoacetylgracilliformin (trace) and skyrin (minor) (det. J.A.Elix 2009). The last three compounds are responsible for the yellow-orange pigmentation.
: Reported only from moribund bryophytes on the Falkland Island.
Comments. Specimens of this taxon were mistaken for Cladonia luteoalba by Stenroos & Ahti (1992, specimens in MSC and AAS seen), but that species has primary squamules with upturned margins and where the lower side is uniformly pale sulphur yellow (usnic acid). In addition, the lower surface of the primary squamules of C. luteoalba is composed of a layer of anticlinal hyphae, ca. 5.5 µm diam., which are loose towards surface and with curling ends (resulting in an arachnoid lower surface, see photo in Stenroos 1990) and thamnolic acid is unknown in C. luteoalba (Stenroos 1990, Øvstedal et. al 2009). Stenroos (1990) examined a large number of Cladonia luteoalba specimens, and found that the real podetia of C. luteoalba are escyphose and ecorticate.
The pigments which give the red-orange colouration are also found in Cladonia gracilliformis and C. bellidiflora (J. Elix pers.comm. 2009), but these species are very different from C. flammea. At present, the affinities of this species within Cladonia are uncertain.
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