Xanthoparmelia scabrosa is a foliose lichen that grows abundantly on pedestrian and automobile asphalt in New Zealand, which are considered inhospitable habitats for lichens. Samples were collected at eight localities ranging from urban streets to very rural roads and analyzed for 28 chemical elements in order to determine elemental chemistry and to test hypotheses about tolerance mechanisms. Anthropogenic elements (Cu, Pb, and Zn) decreased significantly from urban to rural areas, while nutritional elements (K, P, and S) increased. Samples from urban areas contained 10% calcium. Sulfur was elevated at both urban and rural sites, possibly due to pollution in the former site and higher levels of sulfur-containing scabrosin esters at the rural sites. The ability of this lichen to accumulate high levels of Cu, Pb and Zn may make it useful as a remediation tool.