Native Plants Journal 5.2 (2004) 196-197
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The Appalachian Mountains of the eastern US encompass one of the most biologically diverse regions of the country because of numerous ecological niches and abundant rainfall. These conditions make the area ideal for the growth of fungi, and especially mushrooms, which are the subject of this book.
In paperback, this attractive volume measures 22 cm high x 14 cm wide x 3 cm thick (8.5 in x 5.5 in x 1.25 in), making it suitable for field use. Coated paper is used throughout to provide maximum resolution and durability for photos and text. The book begins with a disclaimer that it is not intended for use in collecting edible mushrooms. This is followed by a dedication, contents, preface, acknowledgments, introduction, how to use this book, pictured guide, the text, glossary, references, and an index. The introduction includes short discussions of what mushrooms are, their classification and naming, eating wild mushrooms, poisonous mushrooms, how to collect mushrooms, and spore prints, along with 4 small photos. There is a full-page photo at the beginning of each section.
The heart of the book, of course, consists of descriptions of 402 individual fungi that are illustrated by 408 photographs. Each page has a 7.5-cm-high x 11.4-cm-wide (3-in x 4.5-in) photo at the top, followed by details of the fungus in paragraph form in 2 columns. Paragraph headings in bold face include Latin name, synonym(s), common name, order, family, width of cap, cap, gills, stalk, spore print, spores, occurrence, and edibility. Beneath these entries is a single paragraph, Comments, listing similar species not illustrated and other information. The etymology for the species name is given for all but one of the fungi. Usually the information for a single fungus is confined to a single page, but for some, the comments occur on a second page. Some entries not needed are omitted, for example, a fungus lacking a stalk does not have that entry. The descriptions are complete and professional and not overly technical, and the author citations conform to the latest guidelines so they can be followed with confidence. Photographs are uniformly excellent and show characteristic features of each species illustrated.
In the pictured guide, the fungi are separated into 11 sections, each with a color-coded tab showing their location in the book. Large groups are further divided into subsections. Section 1 includes the true (gilled) mushrooms and covers 222 species; these are divided into 10 subsections. Section 2 contains the fleshy pore fungi (boletes; 55 species) and the stalked pore fungi (20 species); section 3, bracket fungi (18 species); section 4, tooth fungi (12 species); section 5, club fungi (11 species); section 6, coral mushrooms and look-alikes (14 species); section 7, puffballs and earthstars (12 species); section 8, jelly fungi (4 species); section 9, cup fungi and bird's nest fungi (17 species); section 10, morels, false morels, and saddle mushrooms (9 species); and section 11, mycoparasites (8 species).
As with any identification guide, users will need to become familiar with the characteristics used as the basis for sections and subsections. Such features as habit, morphology, substrate, spore color, and reaction when bruised are all used. Some gilled fungi are separated into "small," "medium," and "large" species, each placed in a different subsection. Thus, if one is looking for all species in a particular genus, all 3 subsections need to be consulted. Two sections are devoted to the large genus Lactarius (milk mushrooms) and the related genus Russula. [End Page 196] Experienced collectors will already be familiar with these characteristics, but newcomers may find them confusing at first. Fortunately, the technical terms used in the descriptions are...