The mosaic of interconnected habitats in the Burren support a vast number of different lichen species some of which are only found in the Burren Region. There are an estimated 1,165 species of lichen found in Ireland, which is a staggering number considering the island’s size and latitude. Lichen are fungi that have a photosynthesising partnership with an algae and/or cyanobacteria, so lichen are not single organism. The three organisms work together in symbiosis providing food and protection. Fungi are saprophytes (feed on dead organic matter) while algae and cyanobacteria are autotrophs (they can produce their own food from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide). The fungi element of lichen is called the mycobiont, this provides the structure which protects the photosynthetic partner, the photobiont.

Below are some of the lichen species found in the Burren National Park.

  • Arthonia cinnabarina
  • Arthonia punctiformis
  • Arthonia radiata
  • Aspicilia calcarea
  • Belonia nidarosiensis
  • Bilimbia sabuletorum
  • Caloplaca citrina sensu stricto
  • Caloplaca flavescens
  • Cladonia furcata
  • Cladonia pocillum
  • Cladonia portentosa
  • Cladonia rangiformis
  • Clauzadea immersa
  • Clauzadea monticola
  • Collema auriforme
  • Collema cristatum
  • Collema fuscovirens
  • Collema multipartitum
  • Collema subflaccidum
  • Degelia atlantica
  • Degelia plumbea
  • Dermatocarpon miniatum
  • Dimerella lutea
  • Evernia prunastri
  • Flavoparmelia caperata
  • Graphina anguina
  • Graphina ruiziana
  • Graphis elegans
  • Graphis scripta
  • Gyalecta jenensis
  • Lecanora carpinea
  • Lecanora chlarotera
  • Lecidella elaeochroma
  • Lepraria lobificans
  • Lepraria nivalis non Lepraria murorum
  • Lepraria vouauxii
  • Leptogium cochleatum
  • Leptogium cyanescens
  • Leptogium gelatinosum
  • Leptogium hibernicum
  • Leptogium lichenoides
  • Lobaria pulmonaria
  • Lobaria virens
  • Megalaria grossa
  • Mycoblastus caesius
  • Nephroma laevigatum
  • Normandina pulchella
  • Opegrapha atra
  • Opegrapha calcarea
  • Opegrapha vulgata
  • Pannaria rubiginosa
  • Parmeliella testacea
  • Parmeliella triptophylla
  • Parmotrema perlatum
  • Peltigera collina
  • Peltigera leucophlebia
  • Peltigera praetextata
  • Pertusaria hymenea
  • Petractis clausa
  • Physconia distorta
  • Placidium squamulosum
  • Placopyrenium fuscellum
  • Protoblastenia calva
  • Protoblastenia incrustans
  • Protoblastenia rupestris
  • Pseudocyphellaria crocata
  • Pyrenula chlorospila
  • Pyrenula laevigata
  • Pyrenula macrospora
  • Pyrenula occidentalis
  • Solorina saccata
  • Squamarina cartilaginea
  • Sticta fuliginosa
  • Sticta limbata
  • Sticta sylvatica
  • Thelotrema lepadinum
  • Verrucaria baldensis
  • Verrucaria caerulea
  • Verrucaria fuscella
  • Verrucaria hochstetteri
  • Verrucaria nigrescens
  • Verrucaria viridula


Lichens of Oceanic/Atlantic Woodland

Scientific Name: Degelia atlantica

Description: This is a fan shaped lichen with a metallic grey-blue coloured upper surface. The lobes are thick, smooth and become more metallic in appearance around the margins. The underside of the lichen has a thick black tomentose (matted hair or a woolly like coating) which often protrude around the thickened edges of the lobes. The lobes radiate out from the centre of the lichen, becoming more rounded on the margins, often curling upwards.

Where to find in the park: Found in old ash and hazel woodland.


Scientific Name: Leptogium lichenoides

Description: A dark brown/grey lichen quite distinctive, the lobed thallus has a ragged/wrinkled appearance which looks like shredded paper. This ragged appearance is due to the finger like projections of the isidia (reproductive structure) on the thallus.

Where to find in the park: Found on the lower mossy trunks of ash trees.


Scientific Name: Lobaria pulmonaria

Common Name: Lungwort

Description: This is a foliose lichen in that its structure (the thallus) resembles large green leafs, and is loosely attached to the main surface from which it extends (up to 60 centimetres). The thallus is leathery and deeply lobed with ridge patters on the upper surface. The underside of the thallus often have layers of hair. The thallus is typically 5 to 15 centimetres in diameter with individual lobes 1 to 3 centimetres wide. The asexual reproductive structures, the soredia and the isidia, are found on the thallus surface, they are minute in size. Pockets of the cyanobacteria, called the cephalodia, are found on the lower surface of the thallus. These pockets are dark and quite noticeable. Redish/brown apothecia may apper on the thallus ridges after 15 years in Atlantic woodlands.

Folklore / Traditional Uses: Lungwort somewhat resembles the inner tissue of lungs and therefore this lichen was used to treat pulmonary ailments in line with the Doctrine of Signatures, an ancient herbal philosophy that herbs that resemble various parts of the body can be used to treat ailments of that part of the body.  It was also used for urinary incontinence, hemorrhages and eczema. Recent studies have shown that there may be some truth in the purported medicinal benefits of lungwort; a hot-water extract prepared using this species was found to have anti-inflammatory and ulcer-preventing properties. Additionally, methanol extracts from the plant were found to have a positive effect on the gastrointestinal systems of rats.

Where to find in the park: Found growing on the trunks of trees within woodlands in the park.


Scientific Name: Lobaria virens

Description: The upper surface of this lichen is bright green when wet and dull green/brown when dry. This lichen is tightly connected to the bark of trees. The leafy thallus is large 10cm or more in diameter, with wide, rounded and wavy lobes. Immature apothecia look similar to miniature volcanoes or zits. This lichen is an indicator species for ancient woodland found on both acidic and basic tree bark.

Folklore / Traditional Uses: None known for this species. Lobaria species of lichen are often commonly called lungwort or lung moss due to their use in traditional medicine in the treatment of respiratory problems; however this has not been scientifically determined.

Where to find in the park: Found in ancient woodland on oak, hazel and ash trees.


Scientific Name: Pannaria rubiginosa

Description: This lichens thallus is blue/grey in colour with a scalloped squamules (a thallus made up of small leafy lobes which overlap) centre. The margins of the lobes themselves turn upwards. The apothecia are orange in colour and numerous often covering the entire thallus.     

Where to find in the park: Found in mixed deciduous woodland on tree trunks and moss in humid sheltered areas.