Growth of foliose lichens: a review

Richard A. Armstrong, Tom Bradwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This review considers various aspects of the growth of foliose lichens including early growth and development, variation in radial growth rate (RaGR) of different species, growth to maturity, lobe growth variation, senescence and fragmentation, growth models, the influence of environmental variables, and the maintenance of thallus symmetry. The data suggest that a foliose lichen thallus is essentially a ‘colony’ in which the individual lobes exhibit a considerable degree of autonomy in their growth processes. During development, recognisable juvenile thalli are usually formed by 15 months to 4 years while most mature thalli exhibit RaGR between 1 and 5 mm yr-1. RaGR within a species is highly variable. The growth rate-size curve of a foliose lichen thallus may result from growth processes that take place at the tips of individual lobes together with size-related changes in the intensity of competition for space between the marginal lobes. Radial growth and growth in mass is influenced by climatic and microclimatic factors and also by substratum factors such as rock and bark texture, chemistry, and nutrient enrichment. Possible future research topics include: (1) measuring fast growing foliose species through life, (2) the three dimensional changes that occur during lobe growth, (3) the cellular changes that occur during regeneration, growth, and division of lobes, and (4) the distribution and allocation of the major lichen carbohydrates within lobes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

Bibliographical note

The original publication is available at


  • growth
  • foliose lichens
  • early growth
  • development
  • variation in radial growth rate
  • lobe growth variation
  • senescence
  • fragmentation
  • growth models
  • environmental variables
  • thallus symmetry
  • thallus
  • autonomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Growth of foliose lichens: a review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this