The influence of calcium and magnesium on the growth of the lichens Parmelia saxatilis and Xanthoria parietina on slate substrates

Richard A. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In South Gwynedd, Wales, U.K., the calcicole lichen Xanthoria parietina occurs not only on alkaline substrates at inland sites but also on siliceous rock at coastal martimie sites while the calcifuge species Parmelia saxatilis occurs only at inland sites and on slate rocks. Samples of maritime and inland slate did not differ significantly in their calcium or magnesium content. Thalli of X. parietina on pieces of slate did not survive when transplanted from maritime rocks to a site inland. Thalli of maritime X. parietina and P. saxatilis on slate were then transplanted to a site inland and were treated at intervals during 1 year either with calcium carbonate applied as a thick paste or a 0.25 mM solution of calcium chloride. Treatment of X. parietina with calcium carbonate enabled the thalli to survive and grow. However, addition of calcium carbonate to P. saxatilis resulted in low growth rates and fragmentation of the centres of the thalli. The calcium chloride solution had no statistically significant effects on the growth of either species. In addition, thalli of both species were treated with calcium or magnesium carbonates or wetted with an alkaline buffer at intervals over 12-14 months. Thalli of X. parietina survived and grew rapidly when treated with either carbonate but the growth of the buffer-treated thalli gradually declined over the experimental period. Thalli of P. saxatilis fragmented and disappeared after 8-10 months after treatment with either carbonate but normal growth occurred in the buffer treatment. Xanthoria parietina may occur on siliceous maritime rocks at the site because of the presence of calcium or magnesium in sea spray combined with the spray’s alkaline pH. By contrast, P. saxatilis may be confined to siliceous rocks inland because the thalli grow poorly in the presence of calcium and magnesium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1990


  • calcicole lichen Xanthoria
  • Parmelia saxatilis
  • slate
  • thalli
  • Xanthoria parietina


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