Herbarium: Fungi and Lichens

Fungi are organisms with nuclei-containing cells that get their nutrients by breaking down organic material. Lichens are symbiotic associations between certain types of fungi and algae.

The fungal and lichen collections contain roughly 70,000 specimens—45,000 lichens and 25,000 other fungi—but the diversity of fungi and lichens is only partly understood, even in the Lower Mainland, with many new species still to be discovered. Authorities on BC fungi, including Oldřiška Češková, Paul Kroeger, and members of the local Vancouver Mycological Society are actively building our collections. Some of the thousands of new specimens they have contributed are new records for the province. Others are undescribed, new to the world of science. For many years the fungal collection grew under the care of Dr. Robert Bandoni, professor of botany from 1958 to 1989. Dr. Bandoni remained active in research for years after his retirement, and his collections will remain as a legacy of his dedication to understanding fungal diversity.

Lichens are unique partnerships between fungi and algae. Lichens grow close to the ground and as a result they contribute important ecological functions in a number of terrestrial habitats, including many of BC’s forests. George Otto oversaw the UBC lichen collection in its early years, and since the late 1970s lichen curator Trevor Goward has contributed more than 16,000 specimens to this collection, including many new species. He has written extensively on the lichens of northwestern North America, with special emphasis on species restricted to old-growth rainforests.

Using the Collection


The fungi collection, comprising 16,000 specimens, is home to the largest research collection of macrofungi of British Columbia.

The collection of Agaricales (mushrooms) section has expanded rapidly in the recent years. The museum also has extensive holdings from the order Tremellales due to Dr. R.J. Bandoni’s interest and research in the group. The collection housed a few of his types in the groups: Fibulobasidium sirobasidioides, Mycogloea amethystina, M. bullatospora, M. nipponica, Sirotrema parvula and S. pusilla.

Type specimens : 12


With 40,000 lichen specimens catalogued to date, the Herbarium houses one of the largest lichen collections in western North America.

We have a very solid macrolichen collection, with a strong focus on cyanolichens, especially the genus Peltigera. For this genus, at least, this is certainly the largest collection in North America. The collection is also strong in Calicioids as well as in other microlichen groups characteristic of old-growth forests. Taken as a whole, the collection is very strong on epiphytic lichens, and rather strong on terricolous lichens, especially macrolichens.

Prominent collectors include: George Otto, with 2,500 accessions; Willa Noble 2,200; Teuvo Ahti 450; Irwin Brodo 700; Trevor Goward 15,000. Of the entire lichen collection, 66% are from B.C., 12% are from the rest of Canada and the other 12% are from smaller collections from around the world.

Type Specimens : 45

You can search the Herbarium’s fungi and lichen specimens through our online database.

If you would like to access the Herbarium’s fungi and lichen collection for research purposes, please contact Olivia Lee (see contact information).

For studies showing how the Herbarium’s fungi and lichen collections have been used, please see our Articles & Papers page.