Studying Lichens

Learn how to start studying lichens here. Many of our common lichens can be identified reliably in the field with a little experience and a good book.

  • Picture-matching is a good start, but you need to read the description and check that the observed features match, often by doing simple chemical tests.
  • Identifying a specimen to genus is a great start!
  • For many species, microscopes are needed to identify spores and other features.

Read about lichens for background information. Joining up with a local group is a great way to get started.

General guidance

Learn what lichen features are important to look for - and check the habitat and distribution maps.

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Lichen Fieldwork

Learn how to start identifying lichens in the field, what equipment you'll need and some safety tips.

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Collecting lichen specimens

Learn how to collect specimens - if need be. Do not take all the material from one location!

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Lichen Chemical Tests

Learn how to do chemical tests safely using bleach (C), potassium hydroxide (K) and other chemicals.

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Lichen Microscope Work

Learn how to use dissecting and compound microscopes to look at sections of lichen thalli, fruit, etc.

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Cumbria Lichen and Bryophyte Group field trip to Carrock Fell © Chris Cant

Find out the skills and knowledge typically associated with beginner, intermediate and advanced lichenologists.

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Books & Guides

Find a list of useful books, guides for lichen identification, conservation and ecology.

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Lichen photography © April Windle

Photos are a great way to record what you are seeing - find out how best to do it.

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Calogaya pusilla © Mark Powell

Don't be daunted if it gets tricky. Take heart in these coping strategies.

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Physconia distorta © April Windle

Find links to lichen content relevant to the UK and around the world.

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