Golden-eye lichen (Great Lakes population)
Scientific name: Teloschistes chrysophthalmus
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Photo credit: Samuel Brinker CC 4.0 International Public License
Endangered (Great Lakes population)
“Endangered” means the species lives in the wild in Ontario, but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation.
Date added to the Species at Risk in Ontario List
August 1, 2018
What it looks like
The Golden-eye Lichen is bright orange to green-grey and fruticose, meaning it grows in the form of a small branching shrub. It can be distinguished from other species within the genus by its numerous orange fruiting bodies (apothecia) that have small marginal hair-like structures (cilia). It adheres to surfaces, including branches and twigs of trees, through a central peg-like structure (holdfast) that is similar to an umbilical cord.
Where it lives
The Golden-eye Lichen lives in well-lit, humid environments with nutrient rich substrate. In Canada, it is found on branches and twigs of tree species including White Spruce, Trembling Aspen, Jack Pine, Balsam Fir, Bur Oak and Red Oak. It prefers open habitat near shorelines and coastal areas and sites with calcareous soils or base-rich bedrock.
Where it’s been found in Ontario
There are two populations of Golden-eye Lichen in Ontario: the Great Lakes population and the Prairie/Boreal population. The Great Lakes population of Golden-eye Lichen is now restricted to a single individual at Sandbanks Provincial Park on Lake Ontario. The large Prairie/Boreal population occurs from the Manitoba border to Rainy Lake in northwestern Ontario.
What threatens it
The Great Lakes population of Golden-eye Lichen is vulnerable to several threats due to its limited restriction to a single host tree. Threats that may impact on this population include severe weather events, invasive species, acidification from air pollution and recreational activities.
The main threats to the Prairie/Boreal population include fire, fire suppression, climate change, recreational activities and livestock grazing.
Actions we are taking
Endangered species and their general habitat are automatically protected.
A recovery strategy advises the ministry on ways to ensure healthy numbers of the species return to Ontario.
Government response statement
A government response statement outlines the actions the government intends to take or support to help recover the species.
Read the government response statement (April 23, 2020)
What you can do
Report a sighting
- Report a sighting of an endangered animal or plant to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful.
- Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
Be a good steward
- Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. If you find Golden-eye Lichen on your land, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
Report illegal activity
- Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to
- The Golden-eye Lichen is able to thrive in areas with little rain by extracting moisture from the air but this characteristic also makes it more susceptible to air pollution.
- This species is sensitive to acid rain and sulphur dioxide partially because its shrubby form exposes a larger surface area to the air.