U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people
United States Department of Agriculture
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Lichens are a symbiotic partnership of a fungus and an alga.
There are approximately 3,600 species of lichens in North America.
Lichens are found in a vast diversity of habitats and climates,…
…from the Sonoran desert on the Coronado National Forest,…
…to the temperate rain forest of Alaska on the Chugach and Tongass National Forests,…
…and in the tropical rainforests of the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico.
Welcome to the world of lichens on our national forests and grasslands!
Learn About Lichens
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.