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Four new Micarea species from the montane cloud forests of Taita Hills, Kenya

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2021

Annina Kantelinen*
Botany Unit, Finnish Museum of Natural History, P.O. Box 7, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
Marko-Tapio Hyvärinen
Botany Unit, Finnish Museum of Natural History, P.O. Box 7, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
Paul M. Kirika
East African Herbarium, National Museums of Kenya, P.O. Box 40658, 00100Nairobi, Kenya
Leena Myllys
Botany Unit, Finnish Museum of Natural History, P.O. Box 7, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
Author for correspondence: Annina Kantelinen (formerly Launis). E-mail:


The genus Micarea was studied for the first time in the Taita Hills, Kenya. Based on new collections and existing data, we reconstructed a phylogeny using ITS, mtSSU and Mcm7 regions, and generated a total of 27 new sequences. Data were analyzed using maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony methods. Based mainly on new collections, we discovered four undescribed well-supported lineages, characterized by molecular and phenotypic features. These lineages are described here as Micarea pumila, M. stellaris, M. taitensis and M. versicolor. Micarea pumila is characterized by a minutely granular thallus, small cream-white or pale brownish apothecia, small ascospores and the production of prasinic acid. Micarea stellaris has a warted-areolate thallus, cream-white apothecia usually darker at the centre, a hymenium of light grey or brownish pigment that dissolves in K, and intense crystalline granules that appear as a belt-like continuum across the lower hymenium when studied in polarized light. Micarea taitensis is characterized by a warted-areolate thallus and cream-white or yellowish apothecia that sometimes produce the Sedifolia-grey pigment. Micarea versicolor is characterized by a warted-areolate, sometimes partly granular thallus and apothecia varying from cream-white to light grey to blackish in colour. This considerable variation in the coloration of its apothecia is caused by an occasional mixture of the Sedifolia-grey pigment in the epihymenium and another purplish brown pigment in the hymenium. Micarea stellaris, M. taitensis and M. versicolor produce methoxymicareic acid. The main distinguishing characters are presented in a species synopsis. Three of the new species are nested in the M. prasina group, and the fourth one (M. taitensis) resolves as a basal taxon to the M. prasina group. The new species inhabit montane cloud forests, which have fragmented dramatically throughout the Eastern Arc Mountains in recent decades.

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Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the British Lichen Society

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