• Proposed
  • Under Assessment
  • Preliminary Assessed
  • LCAssessed
  • Published

Bryoria fremontii (Tuck.) Brodo & D. Hawksw.

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Scientific name
Bryoria fremontii
(Tuck.) Brodo & D. Hawksw.
Common names
Black Tree Lichen
IUCN Specialist Group
Assessment status
Proposed by
Amanda Chandler
Jessica Allen, Amanda Chandler, Troy McMullin
Comments etc.
James Westrip

Assessment Notes

Prepared by Clayton Meredith, Albuquerque Biopark


Black Tree Lichen (Bryoria fremontii) is a relatively common lichen species in western North America and northern Europe. The species is an important traditional food source for numerous cultures in western North America and has been used as a dye, fiber source, and medicine. Though several localized threats are likely to impact the species, given its broad distribution, it is unlikely that any threat presents a substantial risk of extinction at this time. The species incidentally occurs in several protected areas. Due to its broad distribution and the absence of indicators for widespread population decline, the species is listed as Least Concern.

Taxonomic notes

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

Geographic range

Black Tree Lichen (Bryoria fremontii) has a broad distribution including western North America ranging from Alaska to Baja California, and including portions of the Rocky Mountains and Black Hills (CNALH 2020, Nash et al. 2002). The species also occurs in the Scandinavian Peninsula, Finland, and northwestern portions of Russian (Karelia and Murmansk) (CNALH 2020). It has been reported from the Canary Islands (Hawksworth 1982), though these observations require further verification. It occurs at elevations up to 4,600 meters (GBIF 2020).
EOO: 15,500,000 km2 (Estimated based on GBIF occurrence data using GeoCat tools.)
Elevation range: 0-4600 feet
Map notes: Point data derived from SEINet (2019) and GBIF (2020).
US: CA, OR, WA, AZ, ID, CO, MT, WY,ND, CO, NM, NV, UT (presence uncertain)
CA: BC,NT,YT,AB,MB (presence uncertain)
MX: Baja Norte
Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia (Murmansk, Karelia), Spain (Canary Islands) (presence uncertain)

Population and Trends

Comprehensive population data is unavailable for the species. However, it is noted to be numerous in suitable habitats (Goward 2003) and there is no indication the species meets any thresholds for listing under a threatened status.

Population Trend: Uncertain

Habitat and Ecology

Black Tree Lichen occurs in relatively well ventilated areas, including upper portions of trees. Ventilation is critical, particularly in winter months, as prolonged snow cover is not well tolerated, and reproduction occurs primarily through fragmentation (Crawford 2007). The species reaches mature proportions in less than 20 years (Goward 2003).


The species incidentally occurs in several protected areas (IUCN and UNEP-WCMC 2020).

Conservation Actions

The species incidentally occurs in several protected areas (IUCN and UNEP-WCMC 2020).

Research needed

Use and Trade

The species is an important traditional food resource for interior indigenous peoples of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California (Turner 1977). Though the carbohydrates found in the species are not digestible by humans, the filamentous nature of the species absorbs starches from foods cooked in conjunction with the species and increases their nutritional value (Crawford 2007). The species is also used as a fiber source for clothing production, as a yellow dye, as a medicine, and for ceremonial purposes (Turner 1977). Gathering for these purposes is generally conducted at a low level and is not expected to substantially impact the global population.


CNALH 2020. Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria. Available online at http//:lichenportal.org/cnalh/index.php [Accessed 12 March 2020].
Crawford, S. 2007. Ethnolichenology of Bryoria fremontii: wisdom of elders, population ecology, and nutritional chemistry. Thesis,.
GBIF 2020. Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
Goward, T. 2003. On the dispersal of hairl lichens (Bryoria) in high-elevation oldgrowth conifer forests. Canadian Field Naturalist, 117, 1, 44–48.
Hawksworth, D. L. 1982. Alectoria and Bryoria Species in the Canary Islands. The Lichenologist, 14, 1, 75–76.
IUCN and UNEP-WCMC 2020. The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). UNEP-WCMC/ IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), Cambridge, UK.
Nash, T. H., Ryan, B. D., Gries, C. and Bungartz, F. (eds) 2002. Lichen Flora of the Greater Sonoran Desert Region Vol. 1. Arizona State University Lichen Herbarium, Tempe, AZ.
SEINet 2019. SEINet Portal Network. Available online at http//:swbiodiversity.org/seinet/index.php [Accessed 1 April 2019].
Turner, N. J. 1977. Economic importance of black tree lichen (Bryoria fremontii) to the Indians of western North America. Economic Botany, 31, 4, 461–70.

Country occurrence

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted