Learning to love lichens

Introduction – Ellen and lichens

Ellen Hutchins studied lichens around Bantry Bay in the early 1800s, recording close to 200 different species. During her exploration of the local shores, woods, fields and mountains, she discovered several lichens new to science. At least three of these are named after her: Lecania hutchinsiae, Pertusaria hutchinsiae and Enterographa hutchinsiae.

Lichens are still considered one of the more difficult branches of botany but we hope to persuade you that they are worth more than a passing glance. Lichens are a unique life form with their fascinating symbiotic relationships between fungi, algae, or cyanobacteria, and yeast. They have an intrinsic beauty, with a wonderful variety of forms and colours. They are numerous and valuable in terms of their contribution to biodiversity. They are one of the first colonisers of bare surfaces, creating the conditions for other life to follow. Browse this page and learn to love lichens.

The resources on this site include: a shot film about lichens; an introductory guide to lichens by Paul Whelan (author of Lichens of Ireland); a lichen micro-trail for a West Cork shore by the local NPWS Conservation Ranger, Clare Heardman and a guide to the lichens of Snave Beach by Howard Fox (botanist, National Botanic Gardens) and Maria Cullen. The latter lichenologists have also produced a lichen audit of Ardnagashel Estate, where Ellen’s brothers lived. The page also provides links to useful websites and books.

Introduction to Lichens by Paul Whelan

Micro-trail lichen guide to Snave Beach

Snave Beach Micro-nature Trail - Lichens and Trees

Ardnagashel Audit DRAFT Nov 2018

Other resources


www.irishlichens.ie – lots of photographs and species accounts relevant to Ireland.

Lichen Ireland:  http://www.habitas.org.uk/lichenireland/ – lots of general information on lichens and distribution maps for each species found in Ireland.

Poetry and musings on lichens and forests in Ireland: https://lichenfoxie.wordpress.com/

Under construction: www.lichens.ie


Lichens of Ireland by Paul Whelan (2011) – an introductory guide available from all good bookshops or online

Lichens: An Illustrated Guide to British and Irish Species by Frank Dobson (7th Edition, 2018). A comprehensive identification guide with descriptions and illustrations.

Materials and page funded by Fisheries Local Action Group – South and The Heritage Council in 2018.