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How to Collect

Do not collect all of a specimen; just take part of it. Only a little is needed for identification.

Crustose lichens on rocks: you will need a hammer and chisel. A geologist’s hammer will do. There is no need to take a lump hammer with you; you will soon tire of carrying that around. Use a small cold chisel also; one with a 12mm tip is good enough for most purposes. You will soon develop a technique to allow you to break off a small sample of the crustose thallus and perhaps some apothecia. Remember you will have to carry the sample with you, so make it as small as possible. Rocks with cleavage planes are relatively easy to sample; granites and some limestones are a lot more difficult and will blunt a chisel very quickly. It is recommended that you wear gloves and protective glasses when sampling.

Crustose lichens on trees: Use a knife to slice the bark; don’t cut too deep into it so that the surface is broken. Use a sheath knife so that there is no possibility of the blade closing back on your hand. If you decide to use a closable knife (pen knife), make sure the blade can be locked so it cannot close on your hand.

Foliose and fruticose lichens: these can often be freed from their substrate with a small knife. If the lichen is very dry, try wetting it first to soften the thallus. Lichens absorb water quickly so you will not have to wait long and your sample will be all the better.

Carrying your samples: carry the samples is small strong envelopes. Try and use low acid or acid free envelopes; you can make envelopes from acid free paper. Label envelopes with a provisional name or just the Genus name, the location, the type of substrate you found it on and a reference number. If you have a GPS device note the Irish Grid reference or latitude and longitude. You can also get this information from a map. The Ordinance Survey Discovery Series maps are recommended.

Storing samples: store the envelopes vertically in shoes boxes and leave them dry out as soon as possible after collecting. Put them near a radiator for a night or two after collecting. If the samples remain damp they are vulnerable to fungal attack and will rapidly deteriorate.