General Lichen Biology
Identification books Guides to Groups or Genera
Laminated Charts Conservation
Plantlife Guides Pollution & Environmental Monitoring
Other Field Guides Checklists
Regional or Local Guides Survey & Report Writing
Guides for Other Parts of the World  

BLS members usually get a discount on the society publications.

Field Studies Council (FSC) publications are available at at their online shop.


Lichens by William Purvis (2000, revised edition 2010), Natural History Museum. Softcover. 112 pp.

Lichens by Oliver Gilbert (2004), Scottish Natural Heritage. Softcover. 40 pp.

The Lichen Hunters by Oliver Gilbert (2004), Book Guild. 208 pp. Tales of derring-do by the early members of the British Lichen Society as seen through the eyes of one of its founders. An agreement has been arranged with Oliver’s family to split the proceeds between a charitable fund and the family.

Lichens by Oliver Gilbert (2000), Collins New Naturalist, Harper Collins. 288 pp. Available as ‘print on demand’ from, or as a download for Amazon Kindle.

Lichenology in the British Isles 1568-1975 by David Hawksworth & Mark Seaward (1977). Richmond Publishing. Includes details of 2695 lists of books, manuscripts, and papers cross-indexed by vice-county.


Identification books

Lichens: an Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species (7th edition) by Frank Dobson (2018). Richmond Publishing, Slough and British Lichen Society. 496 pp. The best overall field identification guide for Britain & Ireland; 

The Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland edited by Clifford Smith, André Aptroot, Brian Coppins, Anthony Fletcher, Oliver Gilbert, Peter James & Pat Wolseley (2009, reprinted 2011), British Lichen Society. 1046 pp. This is the definitive laboratory identification guide with keys to 327 genera and 1873 species.

Lichen Identifier (Version 3): A Multi-Access Key to the Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland by Frank Dobson (2007). CD (for Windows but may not be compatible with all versions, check with the author).


Laminated charts

Habitat Guides by Frank Dobson

  • Guide to Common Churchyard Lichens (2004), Field Studies Council (FSC) laminated fold-out chart.
  • Guide to Common Urban Lichens (2006), FSC fold-out chart. Now is a good time to look at urban lichens, as levels of sulphur dioxide, air pollution and acid rain have been falling rapidly – though pollution from nitrogen sources is a major concern. Many leafy lichens are growing in sites in central London where they may not have been present for 200 years.
    • 1. on Trees and Wood.
    • 2. on Stone and Soil
  • Guide to Lichens of Heaths and Moors (2008), FSC laminated fold-out chart.
  • Guide to Rocky Shore Lichens (2009), FSC laminated fold-out chart.

All available from FSC and specialist bookshops.

Key to Lichens on Twigs by Pat Wolseley, Peter James & Diccon Alexander (2003). FSC fold-out chart. Lichens are highly sensitive to subtle changes in environmental conditions, so are natural indicators of the health of our environment. This key indicates which lichens are acid-tolerant and nitrogen-tolerant (two of the major pollutants that affect lichens) and also indicates lichens that are associated with unpolluted sites.


Plantlife guides

Water-resistant fold-out field guides available from Plantlife Scotland, Balallan House, Allan Park, Stirling, FK8 2QG. Tel: +44 (0)1786 469778.

  • Lichens of Atlantic Woodlands. Guide 1: Lichens on ash, hazel, willow, rowan and old oak by Andy Acton & Anna Griffith (2008)
  • Lichens of Atlantic Woodlands. Guide 2: Lichens on birch, alder & oak by Andy Acton & Anna Griffith (2008)
  • Lichens of Scottish Pinewoods Guide 1: Leafy & shrubby lichens on pine, birch, alder and deadwood by Andy Acton (2009)
  • Lichens of Scottish Pinewoods Guide 2: Crustose and scaly lichens on pine, birch, and alder, and lichens on trees with less acidic bark by Andy Acton (2009)
  • Lobarion Lichens of Welsh Atlantic Woodlands Guide 1: The Lobarion lichens of ash, hazel, willow, rowan and old oak (2013)
  • Lichens of Welsh Atlantic Woodlands Guide 2: The Parmelion lichens of birch, alder and oak (2013)

Also available from Plantlife:

  • The ecology and management of ear-lobed dog-lichen (Peltigera lepidophora) and other lichens of rocky river edges by John Douglass (2008), Plantlife Scotland.
  • Lichens of Old Woodlands Wales Biodiversity Partnership, Plantlife Wales.


Other field guides

Montane Heathland Lichen Guide by Andrea Britton (2008), Macaulay Land Use Research Institute. For hill walkers, naturalists, field ecologists or anyone interested in learning more about the lichens to be found in mountain environments. Printed in full colour on waterproof paper. Distribution maps. Spiralbound, 50 pp. Available to BLS members at a discount if ordered directly from the James Hutton Institute:

Lichens on Trees: a guide to some of the commonest species by Alan Orange (1994). National Museum of Wales (out of print).

A Field Key to Common Churchyard Lichens: and to the commoner species found elsewhere on Stone, Fences and Gates by Frank Dobson (2004).

A Field Key to Common Churchyard Lichens by Frank Dobson (2006). 2nd edition. Details 60 of the most common lichens, including species found on stone, fences, gates etc. The keys only use characters that are visible in the field, by eye, or under a x10 hand lens. Spiral binding, 38pp.

A Field Key to Coastal and Seashore Lichens by Frank Dobson (2010). Published after extensive testing by members of the British Lichen Society. Keys use only characters that are visible in the field, by eye, or under a x10 hand lens. Enables the user to identify over 500 species of lichens which are likely to be found on the coast and the seashore. There are also three supplementary keys to Lichens on limestone, concrete and mortar,

Lichens on sawn wood (such as posts, fences or benches) and Lichens on soil, mosses and plant debris. By Frank Dobson. Ring-bound, paperback, 100 pp.


Regional or Local Guides

Lichens of Ireland by Paul Whelan (2011). Collins. A5 sized book illustrated with photographs and with flexible water proof cover, describing 258 lichens found in Ireland including species in Atlantic woodlands (Killarney & Gengariff) and hazel woods, the Burren’s open limestone and Rocky seashore. Available via the Lichens of Ireland website.

Lundy Lichens by Ann Allen (2007), Lundy Field Society. Available from: Alan Rowland, Mole Cottage, Woodford, Morwenstow, Cornwall EX23 9JR.

Shetland Lichens by Kery & Claire Dalby (2005), Shetland Amenity Trust.

The Lichen Flora of Cheshire and Wirral by Brian Fox & Jonathan Guest (2003), Nepa Books. Photos by Andy Harmer. The first systematic list for vc 58, an area which has suffered greatly from industrial pollution. Small paperback, 90pp.

The Lichen Flora of Devon by Barbara Benfield (2001), published by Glyn Benfield.


Guides for other parts of the world

Bibliographic Guide to the Lichen Floras of The World (2nd edition) by David Hawksworth & Teuvo Ahti. Reprinted from The Lichenologist 1990 Vol. 22 (1): 1-78). Lists key guides and works by region and country; now in need of updating but still of value.

Nordic Lichen Flora edited by Teuvo Ahti et al, Nordic Lichen Society (1999-2007).

  • Volume 1. Introductory parts. Calicioid lichens & fungi (1999). Nordic countries are renowned as having one of the richest and best known collections of lichen species in the world, with over 2000 species. Several Nordic lichenologists have initiated a project to produce a modern flora, the first since the 19th century, that will treat the whole lichen flora of the region. 94 pp.
  • Volume 2. Physciaceae (2002) 115 pp.
  • Volume 3. Cyanolichens (2007). 219 pp.

Lichens of North America by Irwin Brodo, Sylvia & Stephen Sharnoff (2001), Yale University Press, New Haven & London. Covers 1,500 common, conspicuous, or otherwise important lichens from the Arctic to the Mexican border, from coast to coast. One of the most remarkable monographs on lichens ever produced.

Lichens of Western North America by Trevor Goward, Andy MacKinnon & Jim Pojar (2008), Lone Pine Publishing. Softcover.

Guide des Lichens de France. Lichens des arbres by Chantal Van Halluwyn, Juliette Asta & Jean-Pierre Gaveriaux (2009), Belin. A guide to lichens on trees in France - French text. Paperback, 240 pages.

Rothmaler - Exkursionsflora von Deutschland, Band 1 Niedere Pflanzen edited by R Schubert, H Handke & H Pankow (1994), Elsevier. Field guide to lichens, algae, mosses & fungi of Germany. Hardback, 809pp.

Flora of New Zealand Lichens, Revised 2nd Edition, Volumes 1 and 2: including lichen-forming and lichenicolous fungi by David Galloway (2007), Manaaki Whenua Press.A definitive guide to the country’s rich and diverse lichen flora. Hardback, 2397pp. Also an online version.

Die Flechten Baden-Württenbergs by V. Wirth (1995). Stuttgart: Ulmer Verlag. In German with keys, and some excellent colour photographs. 2 volumes.

Flechtenflora Ökologische Kennzeichnung und Bestimmung der Flechten Südwestdeutschlands und angrenzender Gebiete by V. Wirth (1995). Stuttgart: Ulmer Taschenbuch Verlag. In German with keys (paperback version of the 2 volumes cited above, without the colour photographs).

Bestimmungsschlüssel europäischer Flechten by J. Poelt (1969). Cramer. 757pp.

  • Poelt, J. & Vĕzda A. Ergänzungsheft I. Bibliotheca lichenologica 9 (1977), 1-258.
  • Poelt, J. & Vĕzda A. Ergänzungsheft II. Bibliotheca lichenologica 16 (1981), 1-390.

(both in German with keys).

Macrolichens of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden by E. Dahl & H. Krog (1973). Oslo, Bergen & Trondheim: Universitetsfolaget.

Keys to the lichens of Italy. 1. Terricolous species by P.L. Nimis & S. Martellos (2004), Trieste: Edizioni Goliardiche. In English with keys and species descriptions.

Les Lichens. Étude biologique et flore illustrée by P. Ozenda & G. Clauzade (1970). Paris: Masson & Cie. In French with keys, species descriptions and black and white photographs.


Lichen Biology

The Lichen-forming Fungi by David Hawksworth and David Hill (1984), Blackie, hardback and paperback,158 pp. Now out of print, but covering most aspects of lichen biology, ecology, distribution, and classification; designed for use on undergraduate and masters-level courses.

Understanding Lichens by George Baron (1999), Richmond. An approachable introduction to the study of lichens. Paperback, 92pp.

Lichen Biology edited by T.H. Nash III (2008), Cambridge University Press. Lichens are symbiotic organisms in which fungi and algae and/or cyanobacteria form an intimate biological union. Found in most terrestrial habitats from the tropics to polar regions. Considers the contribution of the unique secondary metabolites produced by lichens to medicine and the use of lichens as indicators of air pollution. Paperback, 486 pp.

Dictionary of the Fungi edited by Paul Kirk, Paul Cannon, D.W. Minter & J.A. Stalpers (10th edition, 2008). CABI Publishing, Wallingford.


Guides to groups or genera

Cladonia: a field guide by Nick Hodgetts (1992), JNCC. An introduction to this widely distributed lichen genus; keys and descriptions for 82 species and varieties. Paperback 39pp.

Usnea: an Aide Memoire by Peter James (2002), British Lichen Society

Pyrenocarp Handbook by Alan Orange (2008). This informal identification guide was originally prepared for the BLS workshop on Pyrenocarps on Rock held at Blencathra FSC in 2006. Can be downloaded as a PDF.

Identification of Parmelias (CD) by Frank Dobson (1997). An essential aid to the identification of the 47 species of British Isles Parmelia supplementing the maps and text of the Fascicle 1 of the Lichen Atlas of the British Isles. 

A key to the lichen-forming, parasitic, parasymbiotic and saprophytic fungi occurring on lichens in the British Isles by David Hawksworth. Lichenologist 15: 1-44.



A Conservation Evaluation of British Lichens by Ray Woods & Brian Coppins (2003), British Lichen Society. Tables, with notes on selected taxa, covering all lichenised fungi and a few other fungi traditionally studied by lichenologists (1850 taxa in all). The tables indicate: BLS no.; generic & specific names; current conservation evaluation; evaluation in Church's RDB; rarity; endemic status; priority species; species listed on Schedule 8 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981; international responsibility. A4 paperback, 59pp.

Red Data Books of Britain and Ireland: Lichens Volume 1: Britain by J.M. Church, Brian Coppins, Oliver Gilbert, Peter James and Nick Stewart (1996), Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Describes 177 species (about 11% of the current checklist); a further localised or less threatened 187 species are also mentioned. Considers possible reasons for decline. Hardcover, 84pp.

Biodeterioration of Stone Surfaces: Lichens and Biofilms as Weathering Agents of Rocks and Cultural Heritage edited by Larry L. St Clair & Mark Seaward (2004), Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Indices of Ecological Continuity for Woodland Epiphytic Lichen Habitats in the British Isles by Sandy & Brian Coppins (2002), British Lichen Society

Revised Assessment of Epiphytic Lichen Habitats (1993) British Lichen Society & Woodland Lichens Working Party, Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Lichen Habitat Management edited by Anthony Fletcher with Pat Wolseley & Ray Woods (2001), British Lichen Society 

Churchyard lichens: lichens on man-made surfaces. BLS leaflet


Pollution & Environmental Monitoring

Pollution Monitoring with Lichens by David Richardson colour plates by Claire Dalby (1992), Richmond Publishing. Examines the effects of sulphur dioxide & acid rain; ozone & nitrogen compounds; fluorides; aromatic hydrocarbons; metals; radioactive elements. Paperback, 76pp.

Monitoring with Lichens - Monitoring Lichens: Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Lichen Monitoring, Wales, United Kingdom, August 2000. Edited by Pier Luigi Nimis, Christoph Scheidegger & Patricia A. Wolseley (2002), Springer-Verlag

Lichens and Air Pollution by Frank Dobson (2000) FSC. Out of print.



The online BLS Taxon Database of British & Irish lichens is the most up-to-date source for current names, synonyms, and conservation status. The following publications are still available but may now be incomplete or use out-of-date taxonomy:

Checklist of Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland by Brian Coppins (2002), British Lichen Society

Checklist of British Lichen-forming, Lichenicolous and Allied Fungi by David Hawksworth, Peter James & Brian Coppins (1980), British Lichen Society

A Census Catalogue of Welsh Lichens by Ray Woods and Alan Orange (1999). National Museum of Wales

Census Catalogue of Irish Lichens (3rd Edition) by M.R.D. Seaward (2010). National Museums of Northern Ireland

The lichenicolous fungi of Great Britain and Ireland: an overview and annotated checklist by David L. Hawksworth (2003). The Lichenologist 35 , pp 191-232


Survey & Report Writing

Surveying and Report Writing for Lichenologists: Guidelines for surveyors, consultants and commissioning agencies, edited by David Hill (2006), British Lichen Society