Lichen collections

The lichen Xanthoria aureola

The lichen Xanthoria aureola

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


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

It contains important historical collections, such as material collected by:

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

The Museum no longer keeps collections of non-lichenised ascomycetes or basidiomycetes. This material was transferred to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on permanent loan.

Major collections

These include:

  • British and Irish Lichen Herbarium
  • General Lichen Herbarium
  • Non-incorporated collections
  • Acharius Herbarium (Erik Acharius)
  • English Botany (Smith and Sowerby collection)
  • Fungal Model Collection (J Sowerby)

Country of origin

The collections contain lichens and lichenicolous fungi from around the world including Britain, Ireland, Antarctic areas, Australia and New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India, and Thailand. 


Looking for a specimen?

The lichen collection is being digitised

Senior curator

Dr Gothamie Weerakoon

Any questions?

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Collections on the move

We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new science and digitisation centre. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected. 

Find out more and sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on changes to collections access, relevant news and opportunities to get involved.

Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.