English Language Names for Lichens Collated by rg woods, Librarian for the bls




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English Language Names for Lichens

Collated by RG 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, the following list has been prepared.

The attached spread sheet lists all known British lichens that have an English language name in alphabetical order by their Latin names. Where a published English language name has been located it is reported in the column to the right of the Latin name. In all over 420 taxa have been matched to a published English language name. The use of capital letters in English names has been inconsistently applied by many authors. The apparent randomness in the list presented here reflects this inconsistency, though in all cases we have commenced the name with a capital letter. The spelling of names is that which appeared in the publication. Some English language names have come from American literature and the American spellings have been retained. The number(s) in the column headed “Source of Name” refer(s) to the published source of the English language name as detailed below.



There is still much work to do. I am grateful to Dr. David Hill for drawing my attention to some additional sources. The Librarian would be pleased to receive information regarding any additional literature containing English language names for lichens.

Sources of Names

1 Lichens of Scottish pinewoods Guide 2 Plantlife (2009), Salisbury

2 Lichens of Scottish pinewoods Guide 1.Plantlife (2009), Salisbury

3 Lichens of Atlantic Woodlands Guide 1 Lichens on ash, hazel, willow, rowan and old oak. Plantlife (2008), Salisbury

4 Lichens and Bryophytes of Atlantic Woodlands in Scotland Plantlife (2010), Salisbury

5 Lichens of Atlantic Woodlands Guide 2 Lichens on birch, alder and oak. Plantlife (2008), Salisbury

6 Lichens of North America Brodo, I.M., Sharnoff, S.D. & S.S. (2001), Yale University

7 Schedule 8 Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

8 Lichens Naturally Scottish Gilbert, O. (2004) Scottish Natural Heritage

9 English Botany Smith, J.E. & Sowerby, J (1790-1814, 1831-66) London: J. Sowerby

10 Looking after bryophytes and lichens of Scotland’s Oceanic Ravines Plantlife leaflet (2009), Salisbury

11 www.nts.org.uk/learn/downloads/bennr/lichens%20fo%20ben%lawers%20nnr

12 S. Coppins & D. Long (2012) Basalt Outcrops in south-east Scotland-an overlooked wealth of treasures. British Wildlife 23 (3),178.

13 A Popular History of British Lichens. W. Launder Lindsay (1856) Lovell Reeve, London.

14 Lichens for Vegetable Dyeing. Bolton, E. (1972), Studio Vista, London.

15 The Colour Cauldron. Grierson, S. (1986), Oliver McPherson Ltd. Forfar.

16 The Macrolichens of New England. Hinds, J. W. & P.L. (2007), The New York Botanical Press, New York.

17 Natural Dyes: Sources, Tradition, Technology and Science Cardon, D. (2007) Archetype Publications

18 The Herbal or General History of Plants Gerard, J. (1633) (edition enlarged and amended by T. Johnson) London.

19 A Book on Vegetable Dyes, Mairet, E. (1916) Hampshire House Workshops, Hammersmith.

20 Craft of the Dyer, Castleman K. (1980), University of Toronto Press.


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