Roccella tinctoria is a lichenised species of fungus in the genus Roccella, homotypic synonym of Lecanora tinctoria (DC.) Czerwiak., 1849. It was first described by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle in 1805. It has the following varieties:

  • R. t. var. portentosa
  • R. t. var. subpodicellata
  • R. t. var. tinctoria
Roccella tinctoria
Roccella tinctoria.
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class: Arthoniomycetes
Order: Arthoniales
Family: Roccellaceae
Genus: Roccella
R. tinctoria
Binomial name
Roccella tinctoria

and formae:

  • R. t. f. complanata
  • R. t. f. tinctoria



It is used to make litmus, a mixture of several organic compounds.

Lichen has been used for centuries to make dyes.[1] This includes royal purple colors derived from roccella tinctoria, also known as orseille.[2] The process of making this dye was a secret and lead to the wealth of the weavers of Grainville-la-Teinturière and the Rucellai family of Florence, whose family name is related with the Latin name of the plant, oricellum.[3] There has been speculation that the abundance of roccella tinctoria on the Canary Islands offered a profit motive for Jean de Béthencourt during his conquest of the islands.

Orcinol, a natural phenolic organic compound, occurs in many species of lichens[4] including R. tinctoria.[1]


  1. ^ a b St. Clair, Kassia (2016). The Secret Lives of Colour. London: John Murray. p. 165. ISBN 9781473630819. OCLC 936144129.
  2. ^ Randi W. (December 12, 2006). "Dyeing with Lichens & Mushrooms". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  3. ^ Tehler, Anders; Irestedt, Martin (2007). "Parallel evolution of lichen growth forms in the family Roccellaceae (Arthoniales, Ascomycota)". Cladistics. 23 (5): 432–454. doi:10.1111/j.1096-0031.2007.00156.x. ISSN 1096-0031. S2CID 84702559.
  4. ^ Robiquet: „Essai analytique des lichens de l’orseille“, Annales de chimie et de physique, 1829, 42, p. 236–257.