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Field Guides & Natural History  Botany  Non-Vascular Plants  Lichens

Lichens of North America

Field / Identification Guide Identification Key
By: Irwin M Brodo(Author), Sylvia Duran Sharnoff(Author), Stephen Sharnoff(Author), Susan Laurie-Bourque(Illustrator), Peter H Raven(Foreword By)
795 pages, 928 colour photos, 40 b/w illustrations, 785 distribution maps
Lichens of North America
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  • Lichens of North America ISBN: 9780300082494 Hardback Nov 2001 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £110.00
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles Recommended titles

About this book

Lichens are a unique form of plant life, the product of a symbiotic association between an alga and a fungus. The beauty and importance of lichens have long been overlooked, despite their abundance and diversity in most parts of North America and elsewhere in the world. This stunning book – the first accessible and authoritative guidebook to lichens of the North American continent – fills the gap, presenting superb color photographs, descriptions, distribution maps, and keys for identifying the most common, conspicuous, or ecologically significant species.

Lichens of North America focuses on 805 foliose, fruticose, and crustose lichens (the latter rarely included in popular guidebooks) and presents information on another 700 species in the keys or notes; special attention is given to species endemic to North America. A comprehensive introduction discusses the biology, structure, uses, and ecological significance of lichens and is illustrated with 90 additional color photos and many line drawings. English names are provided for most species, and Lichens of North America also includes a glossary that explains technical terms. This visually rich and informative book will open the eyes of nature lovers everywhere to the fascinating world of lichens.

Customer Reviews


Irwin M. Brodo is emeritus research scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Ontario, and is considered a world authority on lichens and their biology. Stephen Sharnoff is and the late Sylvia Duran Sharnoff was research associate at the Missouri Botanical Garden and research affiliate at the University and Jepson Herbaria, University of California, Berkeley. The Sharnoffs are both internationally renowned nature photographers and writers whose work has appeared in, among other places, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Discover, and the New York Times.

Field / Identification Guide Identification Key
By: Irwin M Brodo(Author), Sylvia Duran Sharnoff(Author), Stephen Sharnoff(Author), Susan Laurie-Bourque(Illustrator), Peter H Raven(Foreword By)
795 pages, 928 colour photos, 40 b/w illustrations, 785 distribution maps
Media reviews

"Lichens of North America is one of the great natural history books of this or any age – a work in which art and science are perfectly united in tribute to one of the most beautiful, important, and least described parts of nature."
– David Ehrenfeld, Rutgers University

"It is a delight to have this book to show the astonishing array, distribution, and role of this unprepossessing group of organisms. There is wonder and mystery aplenty in this magnificent compilation."
– David Suzuki, University of British Columbia

"This is a book to love. It will open a whole new world for naturalists, professional and amateur, to explore and enjoy."
– E. O. Wilson

"A long-sought triumph, gorgeously illustrated, accurate, accessible, and comprehensive."
– Lynn Margulis, University of Massachusetts

"A goldmine of information. The book has superb photos, excellent keys and range maps, and is packed with information. It will be the 'lichen reference bible' for a long time."
– Noble S. Proctor, Southern Connecticut State University

"A superb and indispensable book for anyone truly interested in the biodiversity of North America."
– Peter Crane, director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

"The descriptions, keys, maps, and photographs in this book will provide a way for specialists and novices alike to identify the most noticeable and noteworthy species of lichens."
– Peter H. Raven, from the foreword

"One of the high points of American lichenology, bringing together beautiful photographs and more information on the identification, distribution, classification, and relevance of North American lichens than any other work yet published."
– Richard C. Harris, Institute of Systematic Botany, New York Botanical Garden

"This volume is the twenty-first-century lichen equivalent of Audubon's Birds of America."
– Thomas E. Lovejoy, Smithsonian Institution

"A technically splendid catalogue that will not soon be matched [...] The wonder and diversity of lichens are there for the viewing on page after page. Lichens, neglected and misunderstood despite their ubiquity, are brought out of obscurity in this volume. The photographs, unmatched in any previous work, breathe life into these unusual, stunningly beautiful symbiotic communities. The authors are to be praised for the accessible, informative visual masterpiece they have served up. The images invite the reader to appreciate, to touch, even to smell the lichens [...] This handsome volume will [...] find a place in many lichenological venues, from classrooms to laboratories. It is sure to delight the eye of anyone who opens it. It may indeed inspire further nature study. And at just shy of $70, the book is a real bargain [...] [It] will take its place as the foremost introductory text to the lichens of this continent."
– Samuel Hammer, American Scientist

"The world of brilliantly colored lichens comes to life in this definitive work on a lowly, but ecologically important, group of organisms [...] Exceptionally vibrant photographs of lichens taken by Sylvia and Stephen Sharnoff accompany the text of the book [...] By virtue of its publication, this book has instantly become the standard guidebook for lichens and should be in every academic, public, and botanic garden collection."
ARBA (American Reference Books Annual 2003)

"In a single volume they have succeeded in creating simultaneously a superb research tool as well as an incredible work of art. It will be impossible to short change or ignore lichens any longer [...] Considering the breadth and depth of coverage, high production values and sheer volume, the list price of $69.95 for Lichens of North America is a steal. This book is destined to become a classic among North American natural history literature. It is a 'must have' for the libraries of lichenologists, naturalists, field biologists, educators, land managers, and nature photographers."
– Arthur V. Evans, Banisteria

"This gorgeously illustrated tome is a comprehensive guide to the world's genera of the larger and smaller lichens, in spite of the 'North America' in its name [...] We recommend this book, a gift of world-class scholarship to the scientific community, without reservation. Given its current artificially low price, we suggest that all libraries, private and public, with even a remote interest in natural history obtain it now."
– Lynn Margulis & Eva Barreno, BioScience

"If art is that which forever changes the way we see the world, then Lichens of North America is certainly art. No one who reads this book will walk in the natural world and see it the same way as before [...] The text of the world has just been translated, and you will not be able to put it down. [It is] is at once a spectacularly beautiful book, an important scientific accomplishment and a great read [...] [Brodo's] language is crisp, clear and comprehensible, but it is more than that – Brodo writes with real style and grace."
– David Arnason, BorderCrossings

"This recently published magnum opus Lichens of North America is a beautiful volume that treats an often overlooked group of organisms. And this book has everything! [...] The introductory text in this book is extremely well written and immensely readable. And the photographs are simply works of art. This captivating and thoroughly engrossing books should be on the shelf of everyone who loves nature, and can appreciate the wonderful diversity to be found even in one of the least well-known and overlooked groups of organisms."
– Debra Trock, Botanical Research Institute of Texas

"[The authors] have given us a monumentally conceived and superbly realized book about these curious evolutionary success stories. They have made their subject accessible to the nonspecialist by their intellectual clarity and [...] have also written a book of timeless value to specialists [...] A book of such generous proportions and physical beauty is a bargain at $69.95."
– Brooklyn Botanical Garden

"This encyclopedic volume overflows with gorgeous color photos, range maps, and habitat information that document the astounding diversity and beauty of more than 1500 species."

"Impressive [...] The photographs in this book are of superb quality, both scientifically and aesthetically. Virtually, each of the photographs is unique and could be framed as a separate masterpiece in a gallery [...] This book is a source of inspiration for those who have already got or are likely to get infected by lichen fever [...] A refreshing book on lichens for a broad circle of readers."
International Lichenological Newsletter

"A production of pure visual splendor [...] Lichens of North America will soon take its place as the foremost introductory text to the lichens of this continent. In spite of its shortcomings, it is sure to find its place on the shelves and in the laboratories of lichenologists around the world."
– Samuel Hammer, Journal of the New England Botanical Club

"Of value to professionals and amateurs alike, this book is certain to be a classic reference for decades to come."
Library Journal (starred review)

"The publication of this wonderful new book and its numerous color photographs is indeed a major milestone in North American natural history. Although its size and its numerous color reproduction would certainly make it a suitable 'coffee table' book, it is also much more than that [...] The authors' stated goal, which is to provide a full-color guide to North American lichens that is accessible to the novice but useful as well for experienced lichenologists, is admirably achieved [...] Through their dedication and perseverance over a fifteen year period, the authors of this marvelous new book have succeeded in making another quantum leap improvement over the previously available North American guides, and , if anything can, this book should help to stimulate a lichenological renaissance in North America."
– Theodore L. Esslinger, Mycotaxon

"This tome includes detailed entries on more than 800 foliose, fruticose, and crustose lichens; essays on the biology, structure, uses, and ecological significance of these plants; and hundreds of color photographs."
Natural History

"[M]y favorite book of the season [...] [T]he most complete survey ever made of North American lichens, it weights in at just shy of 800 pages, each encrusted with Latin names and chemical formulae. But ever page also harbors glorious color photographs of these strangest of plants [...] Irwin M. Brodo, a lichenologist with the soul of a poet, has written accessible and elegant introductory essays for the lay people he hopes will use his book alongside the scientists."
– Polly Shulman, Newsday

"[An] amazing book, Lichens of North America, is a gift, a tribute to the beauty, grace, oddity, and dignity of some of the planet's most obvious yet overlooked organisms. This encyclopedic book grabs you by the shoulders and shouts, 'Open your senses to lichens and discover what you've been missing!' [...] Let Lichens of North America, a masterpiece, be your guide to the crusty, flaky, fruity, odd, and enchanting diversity of the lichen life."
– Bryan Pfeiffer, Northern Woodlands

"With Lichens of North America, [Brodo] is aiming to do something that has never been done before – produce a guide to the 3600 species of lichens known to live in North America and introduce them to nature-lovers."
– Joanne Laucius, Ottawa Citizen

"Lichens of North America is one of those rare books that can radically alter your experience of the natural world [...] The diversity of these creatures is astounding, as the hundreds of beautifully reproduced color photographs will attest. The hues and textures creep off the page and allow the abstract compositions to capture the microscopic alien landscapes of our own backyards. It's among the most beautiful art books produced this year and belongs on the coffee table of anyone who desires a fuller understanding of life on earth."
– Andrew Ervin, Philadelphia City Paper

"Even if you don't care one whit about lichens, you should buy this book for the photographs alone, spectacular fusions of science and art [...] Lichens of North America is both well written and well edited, impressively so for a work of this type and magnitude. Brodo's prose is clear, engaging, even eloquent, making the text as enjoyable to read as the photos are to look at."
Plant Science Bulletin

"A production of pure visual splendor. It brings lichens to life in a manner that will not soon be matched [...] Lichens of North America will soon take its place as the foremost introductory text to the lichens of this continent [...] It is sure to find its place on the shelves and in the laboratories of lichenologists around the world."
– Samuel Hammer, Rhodora

"A carefully produced masterpiece [...] [A] photo-illustrated guide that should not be overlooked [...] This lavish volume, published in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Nature, is more than could have been expected [...] Every person interested in natural history should have a copy."
– Paula T. DePriest, Science

"Besides providing such extensive coverage of its subject, Lichens of North America is a masterpiece of photographic illustration [...] I would recommend it for every serious professional and amateur lichenologist and for every public and university library. With its reasonable list price every person interested in natural history should have a copy [...] Enjoyment of North American lichens has long been restricted to professionals and the most determined amateurs. This superior guidebook will make them accessible to all."
– Paula T. DePriest, Science

"Exquisite, aesthetically pleasing, wonderful, breath-taking, and magnificent barely describe the 32 full-page color pictures and nearly 900 smaller ones in this book. Although they alone are worth the price, there is much more in this book [...] The book is highly recommended. The style of writing, the superb photographs, and the reasonable cost are unbeatable. A glimpse at this book should be sufficient to convince naturalists, ecologists, and others to get involved with this fascinating group of organisms."
– J. Ginns, The Canadian Field-Naturalist

"Nearly 250 experts contributed to this major compendium of North American lichens."
The Quarterly Review of Biology

"Nothing comparable with this gorgeously illustrated work exists [...] This spectacular tome will serve as standard in the worldwide field of lichenology for the next two centuries, or until the final demise of all books [...] [A] beautiful book [...] A gift of world-class scholarship [...] At its current artificially low price, all libraries, private and public, with even a remote interest in natural history, should obtain it now."
Times Higher Education Supplement

"[A] beautiful first-of-its-kind introduction to the biology, structure, habitat, human use and identification of 1,500 common species of lichen in North America [...] Most dazzling are the 804 large, intimate, delicate, colour portraits of the lichen, which makes this a delight for people of all interests, whether scientific, artistic, or otherwise."
Toronto Globe & Mail (Best of Year 2001)

"A magnificent book [...] It is lavishly illustrated, mostly with exquisite photos taken in nature by the Sharnoffs."
– Barry Kent MacKay, Toronto Star

"It has given such pleasure that I'd gladly have paid double the price [...] Exquisitely beautiful colour photographs [...] Any one of the photographs could be hung on a wall as abstract art [...] I had no idea such beauty and such diversity existed under my very nose. As a result, if I don't answer emails, it's because I've gone rambling in the woods."
– Cameron Smith, Toronto Star

"A fascinating journey into the Lilliputian world of [lichens] [...] Photographs by Stephen Sharnoff and Sylvia Duran Sharnoff capture the distinctive forms, brilliant colors or delicate hues of 804 species (out of 1050 discussed in the book). The Sharnoffs and Irwin M. Brodo have created a stunning guide for nature lovers."
Wall Street Journal (Gift Guide)

"The best introduction to lichens ever penned. A must-have tome for the maniacal naturalist."
Whole Earth

"Several new lichen books have been published in the last few years, but none of them begins to match the comprehensiveness and beauty of this encyclopedic tome [...] This book truly bridges the gap between botanical specialists and novices to lichens – it is packed with valuable information for professionals and students, while remaining easily accessible to the general public [...] Lichens of North America is most highly recommended for biologists, ecologists, naturalists, and nature lovers."
Wildlife Activist

"Mother-of-all lichen books [...] it deserves use as a botanical and taxonomic resource on lichens [...] 924 numbered plus 15 unnumbered color photos by nature photographers Sharnoffs that are stunning and exquisite [...] [an] incredible project and touchstone book."

"Pick up this book and you'll quickly see it's worth every penny [...] It's technically first-rate and luscious."
– Ed Kanze, Grennwich Post

"An excellent resource."
Yankee Magazine

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