Book Review: Rare Lichens Of Oregon

Rare Lichens Of Oregon, by Ronald L. Exeter, Charity Glade, and Scot Loring

This book is about a subject that few people care about to any great degree. Even so, it is quite striking that this book, with gorgeous pictures and interesting maps, and a lot of worthwhile information, was published out of the BLM office in Salem, even if it can be expected that few people would read and appreciate such a work. Even if lichens are not the most obvious form of life that one would be interested in, the diverse ecology of Oregon does at least provide for a similarly diverse group of lichens to make its home in Oregon, and this is enough of a reason to be at least somewhat interested in the nature of this life form and how it can be found in the area. As might be expected, a lot of lichens are far more common in the coastal ranges and Willamette Valleys, where there is a lot more humidity, while other lichens make their home on the drier Columbia plateau, and as these lichens are rare, we are not dealing with the ones, whichever ones they are, which are common enough not to be included in a work like this one. How common does a lichen have to be before it is no longer rare, after all, is not a question I am qualified to answer.

This book is a bit less than 200 pages and it is divided into a few sections. For one, the book begins with a short introduction, includes a nice color bar key, and also helpfully provides the various ecosystems as far as lichens are concerned that exist within Oregon, dividing the state into the following areas: the coast range, the Willamette Valley, the Klamath Mountains, the West and East Cascades, the Columbia Basin, the Blue Mountains, and the Northern Basin and Range. Obviously, these regions cut through counties and some counties have as many as four different ecoregions within them (Wasco, Deschutes). The lichens themselves are divided into macrolichens and the unsurprisingly smaller microlichens. Each of the lichens themselves that are listed, then, includes photos (for identification purposes, likely), as well as the following information: genus and species name on the top left, recent synonyms, common name, field summary, description of various parts (including thallus, apothecia, and chemistry), ecology, distribution, similar species, and references with color photos. After these are described there are map distributions of the various lichens as well, at which point there is closing material with abbreviations and symbols, photobionts, and references.

Whether or not you care about lichens will determine the interest level you have in this book. I personally found the book to be mildly interesting and definitely amusing as it was able to provide some information about an obscure form of life that one does not tend to think about often. As someone who likes reading about random plants and animals, it was certainly no big stretch to read about lichen as well and I would certainly read more about the life that can be found in Oregon (perhaps someone can write a book on the alpacas of Oregon). Not everyone has the same sort of reading tastes as I do, though, so it is likely that a book like this will remain somewhat unpopular unless someone has a driving reason to want to read more about lichens or needs to figure out something about the lichens that they see around them in one part of Oregon or another. The book does not give information as to how these lichens may be used, but the ways of identifying them are easy enough to understand from the large degree of information provided here about range and other aspects.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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