BLS Zoom Groups 

1. Lichen Chat and Improvement Groups - LCIGs

2 Lichens for Absolute Beginners - LABS   (lower down this page)  or see (New Page)
3. Post - LABS groups  (lower down this page)
4. Intermediate group (lower down this page)
5. Microscope Groups (lower down this page) - Beginner & Intermediate
Also see:  6. "Learn the language",  7. Latest News,  and   8. Some History (all lower down this page)


Judith Allinson writes:

1. Regular LCIG groups: - open to all.

Lichen Chat and Improvement Groups (LCIG) are Zoom groups for people of all levels of lichen knowledge (but especially intermediate) to meet. There is a Tuesday evening group (7pm) and a Wednesday morning group (10am).  The groups meet fortnightly in Winter and monthly in Summer.   New people are welcome, whether you are a beginner or very experienced. 

We started in October 2020, eight months into the UK Covid Lockdown. New people have been joining ever since

If you are interested in joining in one of these groups, or have questions, or would like to have a private practice session learning how to use Zoom before the meeting,  please contact 

The sessions are run for members of the society but we very much welcome non-members in the hope that you might join someday soon. 

As an example a 2 hour meeting might include:

1. Chat, or breakout groups for chat; 
2. Three people give short 2-10 minute presentations, each followed by a period of 5 to 10 minutes discussion. 
3. Five minute coffee break 
4. Opportunity for announcements 
5. People show pictures of lichens they would like to ask advice about. 
6. Discussion.

In Autumn 2022 we started experimenting on some evenings by replacing two of the "Three 2-10 minute presentations" by a guest speaker who will give an "introductory talk on their more specialist topic lasting 25 minutes" followed of course by questions and group participation.


The meetings are a serendipity but it amazes me what interesting things we learn because such different people attend, including several BLS members from abroad. The computer screen is an excellent way of showing and examining details of lichens. I hope that every participant will deliver at least one presentation, (even if just a short 2 minute one about a lichen outside their back door or on their apple tree). 


 Christmas and New Year break


Meetings in 2024:

Tue 30 Jan 2024: Dennis Waters: Introduction to Chromatography
Wed 31 Jan 2024

13, 14 Feb  

27, 28 Feb  

12, 13 March 

26, 27 March

Then monthly:

23,24 April

etc. and likely to resume two weekly on 10 Sep or 8 Oct.

We welcome offers and suggestions for speakers for  spring 2024


2. LABs groups - Lichens for Absolute Beginners 

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Are you an absolute beginner as far as lichens go? Or maybe you have been on an introductory lichen course somewhere but have forgotten parts of it. (See this page on the BLS website which lists the skills people might expect to develop at beginner and intermediate levels.) 

LABS are are series of Lichen Zoom Sessions - tutorials - led by a volunteer member of the society - who may  be an intermediate but is keen to help people  learn. By working in groups of 4 to 8 people there is opportunity to share pictures, to interpret them and to practice using technical terms.

. All the participants gain by meeting each other. The course maybe between 8 and 16 sessions of 1-1.5hr each. Most groups meet fortnightly but some meet weekly.

Some people at the original Zoom Lichen Chat and Improvement Groups (LCIG, see above) were very much beginners and a bit overawed by the "intermediates". So we started these extra "tutorial" groups with just 4-8 people in them, at different times during the week - shorter sessions - aimed at beginners, to explain and practise using the language in describing lichens.  They have proved very popular.

If you are interested in attending such a LABS group as well as, or instead of, the LCIG group, please email . 

It is planned to start two new LABS groups in Jan 2024. The one planned for Thursday mornings is now fully booked . We hope to have a second one running in an evening (day of week not yet decided. If you would like to be put on a waiting list for the evening one 
PLEASE BOOK NOW.   Otherwise we will not start any more LABS groups until next September/October. 

Four new groups started in Autumn 2023. Three are now running in full swing, but are full, and one (running weekly) has finished

Read more about other Zoom groups organised by members of the BLS.

Beginners are very welcome at the regular LCIG groups.


3. Post-LABS groups 

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Three of the 2020-2022 LABS groups are still running as Post-LABS groups. (called "LNABS",  "ILG",  "ABLE") and a fourth has morphed into a local group with field meetings "LISS" - Lichens in South-east Scotland.  This is because individuals from within the LABS groups were prepared to take on the organising of their own groups.

If you have been part of a LABS group and would like to join with others to form a Post-LABS group (i.e. a group of 6 to 10 people who can share or do projects together - or whatever you want - by Zoom) please contact and we will try to co-ordinate the formation of more groups . There may also be people who would like to join such a small group but who are too advanced for a LABS group. Each group would need one or two or even three people to organise the group, so please indicate if you would be willing to help with this.  

4. Intermediate group: 

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LINT - A more experienced group started up in January 2023 meeting monthly, with the aim of covering 100 species in a year. Contact Graham Pyatt 

5. Microscope Groups: 

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Four sessions of a beginners group were run monthly in the autumn 2022 and again in 2023, and there were some follow-up sessions in the spring.

An intermediate/more experienced group is meeting monthly for peer-to-peer support.

If you would like to be put on a waiting list for either beginners or intermediate groups should we run more, please contact 

6. Learn the Language course 

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Beginners are also recommended to consider the  "Learn the Language" short online course of the BLS. This can be carried out independently 

or with the help of a volunteer BLS tutor by phone or by zoom.


7. Some History of the Groups:

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This section is historical.  It show how the groups started, gives credit to people who ran some of the previous LABS groups and then lists a rather random selection of some of the topics covered in the LCIG groups to give you a flavour of the meetings. We hold between 16 and 26 PAIRS of meetings a year.

We started in October 2020, eight months into the Covid Lockdown (which had started in March 2020 in UK) and new people have been joining ever since. We held 26 pairs of meeting 2020-2021,  20 pairs of meetings 2021-2022 and 18 pairs of meetings 2022-Sept 2023.

The names of the people who ran the LABS groups 2020- 2023 are being printed here shortly. (Still being compiled)

2020 - Autumn Dec: 1. Mark Stephens & Sue Knight     2. Graham Pyatt,   3. Pete Martin, 
2021 - Spring: .4. Bob Vaughan, 5. Geoffrey Cleave,  6. Mark Stevens & Sue Knight

2021 - Autumn: Nov: 7. Mark Stephens & Sue Knight; 8. Geoffrey Cleave
2022 - Spring: 9. Pete Martin; 10: Caz Walker

2022 - Autumn: October: 11. Mark Stephens & Sue Knight; 12. Sue Thomas
2023 - Spring  13. Bob Vaughan  14. Barbara Brown

2023  Autumn:  October: 15: Mark Stephens & Sue Knight (Shropshire) 16. Fred Gibson (South West UK) 17.  Sue Thomas (Scotland) 18. Barbara Brown
2024  Spring:  January: 19: Anthony Speca


Examples of some earlier talks:

Autumn 2022:  
Caz Walker: Peltigeras, part 1 and Part 2; 
Rebecca Yahr: Intro (and overall view) of Cladonias 
Alison Cutts: Intro to Drawing Lichens - and tips 
Peter Crittenden: Nitrogen Fixation and Lichens 
Heleen Plaisir: Working at Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. 
Andy Cross: An introduction to historic maps to help understand lichen habitats.

Spring 2023:-  
Members contributions. (incl QGIS, Usnea apothecia)
David Hill: Lichen dyes: history, science and practice
Pete Martin: Four black wine gums on trees:  L.e.,  F.l.,  A.p.,  C.n.  
Paulina Cifuentes Uribe: Lichens found in retreating glaciers  
Graham Pyatt: Three coastal Caloplacas  

Autumn 2023:
David Hill: "Sex" in Lichens 
John Skinner:  Physcia species part 1.
Caz Walker on Peltigeras - of mine spoil (and other more common ones) near Alston
Neil Sanderson: Cladonias with red apothecia. 
Raymond Griffiths: Tarn Lichen - Protoparmeliopsis achariana.                               
Maxine Putman and John Fisher: Lichens in Sweden

Many people have given talks on  "Two lichens from outside my house or my back garden"

We value the contributions of beginners.