CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review

Lichens of the North Woods

By Joe Walewski
Kollath-Stensaas Publishing, Duluth, MN
2007; 160 pages
ISBN-10: 0979200601
ISBN-13: 978-0979200601
List Price $18.95

You may be surprised to learn that the epicenter of lichen diversity in North America is the Upper Midwest region—the “North Woods.” Lichens of the North Woods is another terrific little guide book by the Minnesota publishing house Kollath- Stensaas Publishing. I have several of their titles and they’re all terrific buys—very affordable (I think I saw this title under $15 at Amazon) and very high quality.

I own a few lichen field guides (there are not very many) but, honestly, this is the only one I ever take with me—even out West. The book is useful for all of the East and features 111 species common in our area. Many, if not most of the species are known from the West too. I have seen some who have argued about improper or incorrect names on some of the species described. I cannot weigh in, as I’m no lichenologist. However, I’m confident all the generic and common names are correct and that’s pretty much good enough for me.

The real strongpoints of this little book—and there are several—are price and size of course, but photos, which are excellent and nicely sized, and layout are the real reasons to get this book. (By the way, many of the photos are by Stephen Sharnoff; see a review of his book in this issue.) The layout of Lichens of the North Woods features the lichens sorted by growth form (crustose, foliose, fruticose) and substrate on which they occur (ground, rock, tree) and makes this book very handy to use.

Get this book and hit the woods or park or cemetery nearby. You’ll be surprised to learn several new lichens on your very first day out, guaranteed!

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi