Books and Articles on Lichen Dyeing

Dedicated to the process of lichen dyeing:

Casselman, K. D. 2001. Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book. Dover Publications, Inc. New York

  • HIGHLY RECOMMENDED A great resource including history, methods, suggestions for sustainable harvest, and an extensive list of dye lichens compiled from multiple sources. While more of an academic or technical resource than a user-friendly picture book, the information is quite thorough and clear, and this is the best resource for anyone with a serious interest in lichen dyeing.

Bolton, E. M. 1960, 1972. Lichens for Vegetable Dyeing. Robin & Russ, Handweavers.

  • While less-current than Casselman (outdated species names, use of hazardous mordants, etc.), Bolton contains the basic information needed to understand and use lichen dyes. The species list is somewhat smaller than Casselman, and a fair bit of text is taken up with detailed botanical descriptions of the lichens. The colorplate drawings are beautiful, but not nearly as helpful as contemporary lichen guides with brilliant photos of even the smallest of details needed for identification.

General dyeing books that include lichens:

Krochmal, Arnold and Connie. 1974. The Complete Illustrated Book of Dyes from Natural Sources. Doubleday and Co.

  • NOT RECOMMENDED This source suggests the use of additives that can be hazardous to the dyers health; such additives are generally avoided in contemporary natural dyeing methodology. The text gives a few recipes for boiling water dyes that obtain various shades of tan using Peltigera and Usnea species and mentions a few other species, but does not give recipes.

Buchanan, Rita, ed. 1990. Dyes from Nature. Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

  • Contains two articles regarding lichens:
  1. Arctic Lichen Dyes’, by Wendy Chambers, gives a brief overview of lichen dyeing methods and contains a good discussion of how to obtain a wide array of colors from only a few lichen dye colors.
  2. ‘Blue Dyes from Xanthoria Lichens’, by Jane Upton, gives methods.  


Annette Kok. 1966. A Short History of the Orchil Dyes. The Lichenologist, Vol. 3, pp248-272

  • A complete history of lichen dyeing.

Adrosko, Rita J. 1971. Natural Dues and Home Dyeing. Dover Publications, Inc.

  • Gives a short description of the historical use of lichens to achieve purple colors, but does not contain any recipes for lichens.

S. G. Brough. 1988. Navajo Lichen Dyes. The Lichenologist, Vol. 20, pp 279-290

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