Lichens of North America

Stephen Sharnoff (Author) Sylvia Duran Sharnoff (Author)
& 1 more


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.

The book 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 the book 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.

Product Details

Yale University Press
Publish Date
September 10, 2001
9.9 X 11.1 X 2.0 inches | 0.07 pounds

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About the Author

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.


"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)
"A fascinating journey into the Lilliputian world of [lichens] . . . a stunning guide for nature lovers."--Wall Street Journal, Gift Guide
"Of value to professionals and amateurs alike, this book is certain to be a classic reference for decades to come."--Library Journal (starred review)
"A technically splendid catalogue that will not soon be matched. . . . [An] accessible, informative visual masterpiece."--Samuel Hammer, American Scientist
"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
"[A]mazing . . . a gift, a tribute . . . a masterpiece . . . your guide to the . . . 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 3,600 species of lichens known to live in North America and introduce them to nature-lovers."--Joanne Laucius, Ottawa Citizen
"Lichens of North America isone 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
"[A] photo-illustrated guide that should not be overlooked. . . lavish. . . Every person interested in natural history should have a copy."--Paula T. DePriest, Science
"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
"[A] masterpiece of photographic illustration. . . for every serious professional and amateur . . . every public and university library. . . [A] superior guidebook."--Paula T. DePriest, Science
". . . [S]omething . . .never . . . done before . . . a guide to the 3,600 species of lichens . . . in North America . . . [for] nature-lovers."--Joanne Laucius, Ottawa Citizen
"[A] beautiful first-of-its-kind introduction to . . . lichen . . . [With] intimate, delicate, colour portraits . . . for people of all interests. . . ."--Toronto Globe & Mail
"[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)

"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

Winner of the New England Book Show, in the category of Reference books, sponsored by the Bookbuilders of Boston
Winner of the 2002 Henry Allan Gleason Award given by The New York Botanical Garden
Winner of the 2002 Council on Botanical & Horticultural Libraries Award
Winner of the 2002 National Outdoor Book Award for Nature Guidebooks
Winner of the 2001 R. R. Hawkins Award for the Outstanding Professional Reference or Scholarly Work given by the Association of American Publishers
"Lichens of North America isone 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
"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 superb and indispensable book for anyone truly interested in the biodiversity of North America."--Peter Crane, director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
"This volume is the twenty-first-century lichen equivalent of Audubon's Birds of America."--Thomas E. Lovejoy, Smithsonian Institution