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Monday, 21 October 2019

Book Review - Fungipedia - Princeton University Press

     There is much evidence to suggest that interest in fungi is greater than it has ever been. This is partly due to many claims (some dubious to say the least) about medicinal benefits, an increased taste for wild mushrooms as a culinary item, foraging has become a favoured weekend pastime in some quarters, but I think that more fundamentally people are interested in these organisms from pure intellectual curiosity. As we mourn the loss of diversity on the planet, and start to be unnerved by species depletion, the urge to understand the inter-relationship between all the organisms of field and forest is heightened.  
     This little handbook produced by Princeton University Press and authored by renowned mycologist Lawrence Millman, is a sort of "all you ever wanted to know about mushrooms" work; and fascinating and helpful it is too.



     Whether you are interested in the biology of fungi, or the rich and often fanciful folklore often associated with mushrooms, you will find coverage of all these aspects in this book. You will perhaps be astounded by the famous names throughout history who have had intimate relationship with these lowly and often overlooked denizens of healthy ecosystems.
     Throughout, the book is illustrated with wonderful line drawings by Amy Jean Porter, a delightful accompaniment to the text.



     This is a book you might be tempted to keep on the shelf, but I would encourage you to take it with you in the field. Whether you are a birder, a botanist, a lepidopterist, a plant biologist or someone who follows another discipline in nature, you will encounter fungi, and doubtless your curiosity will be aroused.



     You can quickly get some rudimentary information from this work, you probably already own a field guide, and there is an excellent selection of useful references at the end of the book. It slips easily into a pocket and is not heavy.
     

     Most people are familiar with the mycorrhizal function of fungi, vital to the existence of many trees and other plants, but there are countless other ways fungi interact with host organisms, in  commensalism or mutualism, as predators or as prey. They are a keystone species in many integrated food networks.
    Millman's writing style is quite whimsical, and at times nothing short of entertaining. As he says about a walk in the woods in search of fungi, who can remain immune from the variety of shapes such as tongues, ears, erect phalluses, corals, teeth, birds nests and orange peels? And since fewer than 5% of all fungi species have been described, there is always a chance of finding something new to science.
     If that doesn't set you off in search of fungi I don't know what will!

Fungipedia: A Brief Compendium of Mushroom Lore
Lawrence Millman
Hardcover - $16.95 - 9780691194721 - 208 pages - 4 1/2" x 6 3/4" - 51 b/w illustrations
Publication date: 29 October 2019

38 comments:

  1. Hola David, me encantan los hongos para comerlos y para fotografiarlos y este libro se ve muy muy interesante, muchas gracias por compartirlo. Un fuerte abrazo.

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  2. Hi David, this book would definitely interest me, I shall see if I can get it from the library. We have so many fungi growing everywhere just now, they have something rather magical and very fascinating the way they appear over night. Thanks for sharing! Valerie

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  3. Hari OM
    crazy... my brother and I were having an email 'debate' (we'll call it that) about fungi v mushrooms just recently. You have just presented me with the answer of what to buy him for Christmas!!! YAM xx

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  4. As a farm girl with brothers, we rambled through the woods for morel mushrooms, blackberries, black walnuts, sassafras. This book would answer some questions I had then.

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  5. They are fascinating organisms, aren't they? As a farm boy I used to often pick a few mushrooms for breakfast. A few years ago I bought a small field guide but have rather given up on trying to identify everything I come across, as I soon realised how difficult it is. I'm also a bit more careful about what I have for breakfast!

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    1. I too prefer to leave them alone these days. Foraging has become such a fad that serious depletion is occurring in some regions. Better we leave nature alone and buy cultivated mushrooms in the store.

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  6. It sounds absolutely fascinating. As a child I foraged for mushrooms with my father. My older self takes heed of the the people who die after illeducated foraging in my city (a couple most years) and wimps out.

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  7. Hello David,
    Here in Norway many people go out in the woods every autumn to find safe mushrooms. We have many poison of them too, so I'm not so fond of them. I know the yellow chanterelle, and it's enough for me :)

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  8. Låter som en utmärkt bok! Jag plockade mycket svamp förut men har inte längre något intresse av svampplockning. Däremot är jag fascinerad av svampar och deras samspel med andra arter i naturen. Utan hjälp av svampar skulle våra träd t.ex. ha svårt att överleva. Generellt skulle jag vilja påstå att människans kunskap om svampar är begränsad, de svampar vi ser med blotta ögat är en ytterst liten del, de stora nätverken som svamparna bilder finns under jord och inte synligt för oss människor.

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    1. In some areas the underground component of fungi covers hundred of hectares. Amazing organisms!

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  9. Hello David, great review and book. The illustrations are pretty. We are not seeing many fungi or mushrooms this year due to the drought. Hubby and I enjoy looking for the fungi while on our walks. Thanks for sharing. Have a happy day and a great new week ahead.Eileen

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  10. Amigo David, un libro que nos presentas y que por lo detallado se ve muy interesante tanto para profesionales como para principiantes que se quieran introducir en ese fabuloso mundo de los hongos.
    Gracias por compartirlo.
    Recibe un fuerte y cariñoso abrazo de tu siempre amigo y compadre Juan.

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  11. Now is the time to taste mushrooms. I have gone to take them in low mountains in my childhood.

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  12. Interesante. Conozco algunas. Ahora con la lluvia saldrán. El invierno pasado pillé una Anamita Muscaria. Su belleza es grande y su mortalidad también.
    Volviendo de unas pequeñas vacaciones. Buen martes David.
    Un abrazo.

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  13. Hello David!

    A very interesting book. I love to walk in the woods and collect mushrooms. Unfortunately, I didn't find a single one in the nearby forest.
    I bought mushrooms at the market, there were plenty of them.
    Hugs and greetings.
    Lucja

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    1. Hello Lucja: I am not familiar with the situation in Poland, but here in Canada unrestrained and inefficient foraging is harmful and certain species of edible mushrooms are increasingly more difficult to find.

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  14. The graphics are unique and very successful.

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  15. Before I read this review, David, I was certain that I'd be writing something along the lines of "this looks like a wonderful book, but fungi is a subject that I feel I can't afford the time to get into, so probably won't buy". I think I've (sorry, should be "you've"!) changed my mind - about the book, that is!

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    1. Great!!!!!!! Fungi are not easy, but they can be a little addictive!

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  16. The book will tell you everything you need to know about mushrooms. I tried them once but didn't care for them.

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    1. You are missing out. A couple of years ago I gathered some wild honey mushrooms, made a white sauce over salmon, and it was heavenly! And I can't imagine how many dishes we prepare with domestic mushrooms.

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  17. The artwork is wonderful in this book. I love that the author mentions the fungi in comparison to ordinary, everyday objects. It is amazing seeing the shapes, sizes, color and textures of mushrooms growing about in the wild.

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  18. Thanks for pointing this one out, David!

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  19. Un libro muy interesante que me vendría muy bien. En Extremadura hay muchísimas variedades, comestibles y tóxicos. Besos.

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  20. The book that offers a great information about mushrooms. I used to go in autumn to gather mushrooms in the forest but it was many years ago. It's nice to have this book to learn more about mushrooms.

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  21. A fascinating subject, once spent a week at Arthog studying a valley full of rare mosses, this book brought back memories of that study.

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  22. Very interesting David. I don't know much about mushrooms. Thank you for visits on my blog. Greetings Caroline

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    1. Don't feel bad, Caroline, many of us still have a lot to learn about fungi. I can tell you from personal experience it is a fascinating journey.

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  23. This is one I could see myself buying. Fungi fascinate me. I love all the fungi at the lake and never really know what they are. It looks like a great reference and one that is fun and accessible. Thanks for the alert!

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  24. Hi
    such a book can and helps one, at the latest in the hospital one has time to read .... ;-))
    Greetings Frank

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  25. Looks a very good book :)

    All the best Jan

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  26. The more I venture into east Texas, the more fungi I see. The prairies aren't as congenial a spot for them as woodlands. There's a couple who offer fungi walks and classes at the Watson Rare Plant Preserve; this will be a good book to become familiar with before they offer one of those walks again.

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  27. lol, i tried to leran a lot about fungi. But taht was not easy so I gave up. Nowadays I just pick a few safe ones :)

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  28. Hello David, A wonderful book and great review of it. This year is an outstanding fungi year in The Netherlands and Belgium and made a lot of photos of them.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  29. Hello David,
    very nice that there are books that can tell you which mushrooms are there and which are poisonous and non-toxic. A wonderful reference for all nature lovers and certainly for those who are going to pick mushrooms for consumption. A nice and educational post.
    Dear greetings and a kiss

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