English Language Names for Lichens

Collated by Ray Woods, Librarian for the BLS

Much controversy surrounds the subject of English language names for lichens. Many members of the British Lichen Society view them as positively undesirable whilst others concede that in the engagement of the general public they can have some value

Whatever their value, they have appeared in print for over 200 years and many publications aimed at the general public have used them. The authors of new publications have frequently devised their own names and in consequence names have proliferated.  At least nine English names have appeared in print for Lobaria pulmonaria and Parmelia omphalodes, seven for Hypogymnia physodes, Parmelia saxatilis and Ochrolechia tartarea with numerous other species having three, four or five different names. Authors of populist accounts of lichens have often sought help in finding English names and the librarian has expended considerable time, often in a fruitless search through the literature for them. To reduce this task and perhaps introduce some more stability in English language names by avoiding the unnecessary invention of new names where existing ones would suffice, Ray Woods has produced a list of  names that he has been able to trace from various sources.

The list can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet from the "Download Files" section below. Also attached (as an MS Word Document) are Ray's explanatory notes, which include the sources he has referenced in the spreadsheet).