Friday, June 5, 2009

Book Stall Review: North American Mushrooms

North American Mushrooms: A Field Guide to Edible and Inedible Fungi
by Dr. Orson K. Miller Jr.
Falcon, 2006

Although nicely illustrated with color photos and densely packed with descriptions and identification keys, this field guide only covers some 600 out of several thousand North American mushroom species. It is not a definitive reference and should not be solely relied on for identifying edible wild mushrooms.

Dr. Orson K. Miller Jr, a prominent mycologist, cautions readers that there are no simple guidelines for distinguishing the edible from the poinsonous in mushrooms and "when in doubt, throw it out." Yet, he also suggests that his guide, one of the most recently published, can be used to locate and identify edible wild mushrooms. "The only safe way to eat wild mushrooms is to learn to identify the edible species as well as the poisonous species," he explains.

Unfortunately, accurate identification requires spore printing, which involves removing the fruiting body or picking the mushroom.

While most mushroom hunters pursue the edible and hallucinogenic species, this sturdy guide will appeal to anyone with an interest in mushroom identification, professional or otherwise, covering all the basics and providing up-to-date information. Common names of mushrooms species are rarely used, however, and the index is primarily based on scientific names.

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