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Booked Up: A Conversation About a New Guide to an Overlooked Group of Organisms

Posted in Books: Past and Present on June 10, 2015 by Lansing Moore

Stevenson Swanson is the Garden’s Science Media Manager.


In this video, two lichenologists sit down to talk about—what else?—lichens. Or rather, a new book about lichens from the NYBG Press, Common Lichens of Northeastern North America.

This field guide “was written for the average person to learn about lichens,” co-author Troy McMullin, Ph.D., tells James Lendemer, Ph.D., Assistant Curator in the Institute of Systematic Botany at The New York Botanical Garden. “It was written in non-technical language,” he adds, noting that the book is richly illustrated with photos of all the lichen species covered in the text.

Lichens, composite organisms made up of a fungus and an alga or other photosynthesizing partner, play important roles in ecosystems and are sensitive indicators of environmental quality. And they can be quite beautiful. They have not gotten the respect or attention they deserve, according to Dr. McMullin, and one sign of that neglect is the fact that Common Lichens is the first book of its kind for lichens.

“There hasn’t been a field guide like this,” Dr. McMullin says. “If you wanted a field guide to the birds, you go to a bookstore and there’s all kinds of them, and there’s ones for mushrooms, for trees and insects, but you never see any for lichens.”

Until now. To order Common Lichens of Northeastern North America, ($39, spiral-bound hardcover), go to the NYBG Press or order from Shop in the Garden.

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