Some of my images and posts in this blog, refer to using lichens for creating dyes for textiles. If you are motivated to do the same, please consider the following.
Foraging for and gathering lichens for use as dyes, herbal teas or any other purpose, requires utmost consideration. Lichens rely on clean air and exacting environmental situations. If you are fortunate enough to live in a lichen-rich area, be aware that this is the exception to the tragically common situation: that lichens and their habitats are increasingly under threat from our polluted environment.
Even if some species appear abundant: this might be a local variation, and these lichens are special only to your area.
If you are gathering lichens, consider:
- Check with your local ecologist (council, national park, etcetera) about protected species or no-take zones in your area.
- Learn to identify exactly what you want. There are links on Youtube as well as the resources listed below.
- Ask yourself – do I really need to take this; and if so, how can I make do with less?
- Take from brown-site areas if you can, rather than green spaces.
- Only take lichens that have fallen from their source of attachment.
- If you do have a clear intention for using foraged lichen and if it is not a protected/rare species, and you wish to detach it from its source: do not take more than 10% from each cluster, and gather small quantities from several clusters rather than just from one. Take only what you can justify using.
In Devon, the following resources were made available to me from Richard Knott, a Dartmoor National Park ecologist.
Note that in the links, certain zones in our region are protected zones and nothing can be taken from them, even if it has fallen from its source of attachment.
” The British Lichen Society website http://www.britishlichensociety.org.uk/ has a wealth of information, from which I highlight the following
Getting started, these Field Studies Council laminated, illustrated fold-out guides:
- Guide to Common Churchyard Lichens (2004)
- Guide to Common Urban Lichens 1. on Trees and Wood (2006)
- Guide to Common Urban Lichens 2. on Stone and Soil (2006)
- Guide to Lichens of Heaths and Moors (2008), FSC laminated fold-out chart.
- Guide to Rocky Shore Lichens (2009), FSC laminated fold-out chart.
- Key to Lichens on Twigs by Pat Wolseley, Peter James & Diccon Alexander (2003)
All available from FSC and specialist bookshops.
In more detail, this field identification guide for Britain & Ireland:
Lichens: an Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species (6th edition) by Frank Dobson (2011). Richmond Publishing, Slough. 480 pp.
There should be no problem collecting small ‘voucher specimens’ for personal study of the common species, provided you have the landowner’s permission. See http://www.britishlichensociety.org.uk/identification/collecting-specimens
Note that this advice would not cover collection for any commercial purpose.
In my experience, the best way to learn is to accompany experienced lichenologists on field excursions. The Devonshire Association botany group occasionally hold lichen-specific field trips.
Below is a list of the well-known top woodland lichen sites on Dartmoor:
Black Tor Copse
Dart Valley Woods
Whiddon Deer Park
All of these are Sites of Special Scientific Interest and there should be no collection of specimens without permission (see guidance, above).
Dartmoor has many nationally important habitats and listing the best sites can give the impression that nothing else needs attention. Some other habitats include clean rivers, mine spoil, tors, clitter, walls, and isolated veteran trees. “
Thanks to Richard for that…
Tread lightly, lichen lovers!