There are approximately 3,600 species of lichens in North America and those are just the ones we know about! New discoveries are being made every year. Lichens are found all across North America and all over the world. They are found in a vast diversity of habitats and climates, from the Sonoran desert on the Coronado National Forest, to the alpine tundra of Alaskan mountains on the Chugach National Forest, and in the tropical rainforests of the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico.
Lichens are interesting organisms. They are diverse, adaptable, functional, and little understood. They play an important role in our natural ecosystems and can let us know when those ecosystems are in trouble. Lichens are beautiful, especially when you view a lichen-drenched Douglas-fir or a colorful crust-covered cliff, and up close when viewed under a hand-lens or microscope.
Welcome to the world of lichens on our national forests and grasslands!
What are lichens?
Learn to recognize lichens
What Lichens Are Not
Know the difference between lichens and other plants
Why are lichens important?
Reasons why lichens are important
Learn about lichen structure, growth forms, and reproduction
What are lichens' growth requirements?
Find out about collecting and identifying lichens
Did You Know?
Fun facts about lichens and their use
Explore the forms and variety of lichens