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Field Guide to the Lichens of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by Erin A Tripp and James C. Lendemer

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What a daunting task, and what an impressive accomplishment. The Smokies has 909 – count ‘em – species of lichens! Not surprisingly that’s the most of any National Park – big braggin’ rights, I reckon! And it has nearly half of all those lichens found in the Eastern United States. Good news – the maps for each species show NOT just where the lichens occur in the Park, but in the Eastern U.S. and, when appropriate, the whole continent.  So, this book is basically a guide to half the lichens in this half of the country and many in the whole continent. This guide excels in providing the context for the study of lichens in the Park. It starts with explaining “Lichen Biology,” then speaks of the evolution of the landscape of the Park, and zonks in on its diversity, covering both plants and animals. Then it gets to the crux of the matter with over 400 pages of the Field Guide itself, going species by species with color photos, those maps I spoke of earlier, and, for each “notes” and “key features.” Often it also goes into the particular lichen’s “niche,” and “chemistry.” The last chapter goes into the keys to identifying the lichens. Erin Tripp teaches at the University of Colorado and James Lendemer is the assistant curator at the Institute of Systematic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.

Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2020. 572 pages, illustrated by Bobbi Angrell, with Literature Cited, two appendices, and lots of maps. 7.25” X 10.25” one of those recent half-way-between-a-hardback-and-a-paperback books with a flexible pictorial cover that extends past the interior pages and has flaps like a dust jacket.