Lichen collections

The Museum’s lichen collection is one of the world's largest and is an important research resource.

The collection consists of about 400,000 specimens and at least 10,000 type specimens.

We hold important historical collections, such as material collected by:

  • E. Acharius
  • J. M. Crombie
  • W. A. Leighton
  • J. Stirton

The Museum does not keep collections of non-lichenised ascomycetes or basidiomycetes. This material was transferred to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew as a permanent loan.

The Museum retains a small reference collection of parasymbionts and a few saprophytic fungi, such as the genera Sarea and Stenocybe, which traditionally were often collected by lichenologists.

  • Specimens of the lichen Neuropogon aurantiaco-atra collected by Charles Darwin.
    Lichen fungaria

    The Museum houses lichen collections from around the globe, including extensive collections from the southern hemisphere. Slime moulds are also curated within the lichen section.

  • Erik Acharius, who is known as the father of lichenology
    Historic lichen collections

    A number of historic lichen collections of outstanding importance are curated separately from the main lichen herbaria. These include the Acharius Herbarium and what are likely to be the world’s earliest scientifically accurate fungi models.

  • Mounted Xanthoria parietina lichen specimens held in the Museum's crypt herbarium
    Access to the collections

    Find out how to arrange a visit and borrow specimens from the lichen collections.

Lichen research

Lichen covering a rock
Lichen research

We are investigating the evolution, biodiversity, systematics and symbiosis of lichens.

Contact us 

Botany collections team

Contact the botany collections team with scientific enquiries about the collections.

Nomenclature references

Find out more

The lichen Xanthoria parietina

Lichens are adapted to a range of habitats around the world but sensitive to environmental changes.