Lichen (Gloeoheppia turgida)

Synonyms: Endocarpon turgidum, Heppia turgida
GenusGloeoheppia (1)

Gloeoheppia turgida has yet to be classified on the IUCN Red List.

A rock-dwelling species, Gloeoheppia turgida is a ‘squamulose’ lichen, meaning that the main body (thallus) is entirely covered in minute scales. The thallus is partially gelatinous (viscous, like jelly), often with large internal air spaces, and is generally dark brownish to yellowish-olive in colour, although it may rarely appear to have a white-grey powdery covering (2).

Gloeoheppia turgida is known from the Middle East, with records from areas of the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran (1) (3) (4) (5).

Gloeoheppia turgida is found in rocky habitats, where it grows on compacted soils between rock crevices (3).

Lichens are a unique group of organisms that consist of two components, a fungus (called the ‘mycobiont’) and an alga or cyanobacterium (called the ‘photobiont’) that live in a close symbiotic relationship (6) (7) (8). The fungus produces the thallus (the main lichen body) which houses the alga or the cyanobacterium, providing protection and creating optimal conditions for the photobionts to photosynthesise. This process produces sugars and nutrients which can then be utilised by the fungus (8).

Like other lichens, Gloeoheppia turgida is poikilohydric, hence the lichen is able to desiccate (remove water) completely and suspend photosynthesis until more favourable conditions return. This remarkable ability has allowed lichens to colonise a wide range of habitats in which higher plants are unable to survive (3). In deserts, lichens with cyanobacterial components, like the lichen Gloeoheppia turgida, are important as they provide most of the fixed nitrogen to the ecosystem (6). Many lichens are known to be very sensitive to environmental pollution, and, consequently, are used as 'indicators' of the levels of pollution in an area (7).

There are no known threats to Gloeoheppia turgida.

There are no known conservation measures in place for Gloeoheppia turgida.

To find out more about conservation in the UAE, see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. Species 2000 ITIS Catalogue of Life (December, 2010)
  2. Schultaz, M. and Büdel, B. (2002) Key to the genera of the Lichinaceae. The Lichenologist, 34: 39-62.
  3. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
  4. Sipman, H.J.M. (2002) Lichens of mainland Yemen. Willdenowia, 32: 127-135.
  5. Sipman, H. (2003) Provisional key for lichen genera and some species of Iran. Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Freie Universität Berlin (Free University of Berlin). Available at:
  6. Ghazanfar, S.A. and Fisher, M. (1998) Vegetation of the Arabian Peninsula. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, the Netherlands.
  7. Nash, T.H. (1996) Lichen Biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  8. Ahmadjian, V. (1993) The Lichen Symbiosis. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York.