Walk report: 09 December 2021 An introduction to Lichen at Boldre Churchyard with Duncan Wright

 An introduction to Lichens at St John’s Churchyard, Boldre

Thursday 9 December 2021

A record number of members turned up for this ‘walk’ (if approximately 250 yards in 2.5 hours - 0.06 mph - can be described thus!).

It was led by Duncan Wright, an enthusiastic member of Lymington Naturalists until he moved to Petersfield in October 2019. During his introduction he emphasised that the objective of the walk was not an I-spy activity but rather to encourage people to look closely at lichen thereby hopefully enhancing their natural history walks.

He accepted that lichens are very much a minority interest when compared with birds, plants, insects (especially butterflies and moths) and fungi because, for example, they are very small and have no generally accepted non-scientific names. However, significant advantages for studying them include not flying away, not dying back in the winter, not changing plumage and the fact that they are everywhere – literally from the North Pole to the South Pole! All that is needed to appreciate their beauty is inquisitiveness and a hand lens (ideally 10x).

A hand out had been prepared to help participants focus on the key features of lichens. This included a glossary of some of the terms used to describe lichens along with some photographs (not to scale) of a few of the common ones that could be seen in the churchyard, whether on trees or headstones. It was stressed that species identification is not always possible without the use of chemicals and microscopy.

The book Duncan used was:

Lichens: An Illustrated Guide to British and Irish Species by Frank S Dobson (7th edition) and published by British Lichen Society

There is also a pack of FSC illustrated information cards Wildlife Pack No 20 that is very useful.

A crustose lichen © Duncan Wright


A foliose lichen © Glynis Payne

A fruticose lichen © Richard Smith

Duncan's Lichen id checklist and glossary:

Location and Habitat



Growing on? (substrate)



Thallus* type* and size



Thallus colour (wet/dry?) Upper and lower surfaces



Lobes - Size? Turn up? Flat? Shape?



Thallus edge (prothallus*?  thick/thin?) -- for crustose



Rhizines* -- appearance and location eg middle or all over









Soredia* -- where on thallus?






Pseudocyphellae* Maculae*



Apothecia*? Type*?



Anything else?



 Thallus – the body of the lichen containing fungal and algal cells

Thallus types (basic) – foliose (leaf like), fruticose (shrub like, attached at only one point), crustose (crusty)

Prothallus – margin of crustose thallus without algal cells

Rhizines – root like fungal filaments on lower surface of foliose thallus

Cilia – ‘eyelashes’ on ends/margins of lobes

Areoles – islands formed by cracks in the thallus. Grow together to form crazy paving appearance.

Soredia – small powdery grains containing fungi and algae

Isidia – detachable outgrowth on the thallus containing fungi and algae

Pseudocyphellae – pale patch, dot or line on thallus 

Maculae – blotchy/mottled on thallus

Apothecia – fruiting body

Apothecia type – ‘jam tart’, ‘wine gum’, ‘squiggles’