Ginny B's picture

Wanting to learn more about lichens

Wanting to learn more about lichens, can anyone recommend where I should turn to now? Would the best way forward be to buy 'Lichens: An Illustrated Guide to British and Irish Species' by Frank S. Dobson, or is there another equally good book available?




D.M.H.'s picture

should be able to help

All given ID's are subject to error/ommissions. Please seek independent verification before acting on ANY advice given. BE SAFE =)

gardener's picture


Hi Ginny, yes Frank Dobson's 'Lichens' is the one to get - you'll probably find it a bit overwhelming to begin with but it gets less scary!

Good luck with it all!

Ginny B's picture

Thank you both so much

Thank you both so much for your help.

I had wondered if I should be trying to limit my interest to perhaps just those found on trees, or just on stone or on the ground. The trouble is I find I can't resist taking pictures of all the lichens I see as I walk my dogs. Some of them I know are the same lichens I already have pictures of but they may be in different locations where I hadn't expected to find them, or they look slightly different because they are wetter or dryer than my original picture. As one friend commented: "My word Ginny, you have got it bad!"

I now have a huge backlog waiting for identification. So many don't look quite like those photographs shown on the excellent websites online, or don't quite match the descriptions given. It doesn't help that I still am having trouble remembering the correct terminology and unfortunately frequently get lost working my way through the only key I have (that for the seashore).


markwilson's picture


There are some courses run by the Field Studies Council that might be of use - make sure you are on a beginners course otherwise it can be rather overwhelming (if that's how you spell it)

Ginny B's picture

I'd love to go on one of those courses

I'd love to go on one of those courses and will manage it one day, Mark. I will be sure to look for a beginners' course. Thanks for the tip.

gardener's picture

You sound just like me - that

You sound just like me Ginny - that was how I got hooked!
Species on twigs or bark are easier to get a specimen from to bring home and examine more closely but rather than limiting yourself to corticolous species get some K and C as the results will make some crustose species more identifiable.

Ginny B's picture

I have my little bottles

Thank you for the link, Jenny. I shall bookmark that for future reference.

I have my little bottles of K and C, but it is remembering to take them with me that is the problem! Nine times out of ten I find something of interest when I've left them at home and have to try to remember exactly where I found it. Only the other day I found a couple that I don't think I've seen before on a beech tree and had neither camera nor bottles with me, so in a day or two, when the weather is kind to me, I will be back there again.

Incidentally Jenny, I have you to thank for bringing my attention to the importance of pH in one of my first observations on this site with a most helpful explanation!

Sarah West's picture

Follow someone around...

Hi Ginny,
My interest in lichens came from following the wonderful (late) Don Smith and then Albert Henderson around in Yorkshire, because of my membership of the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union. I'd recommend seeing if there are any lichenologists in your local natural history society, a list of societies can be found here

Sarah West
OPAL Community Scientist
Yorkshire and Humber

Ginny B's picture

A good idea

Sorry to have taken so long in replying but I've not visited this site for a while, mainly because I haven't had time to look up any of my recent lichen finds.

Thank you for the suggestion and link, Sarah, that is a good idea. I'll do some investigating.