There are any number of books on fungi, the ones shown here are a good selection and you could do far worse than these. There are also a number of guides that are truly, unbelievably awful, with poor drawings or photographs, useless descriptions and even potentially dangerous distinction.
In common with his other photographic guides, the Roger Phillips book on mushrooms is a stunner. I have been on many a fungus foray and this book has proved invaluable when identifying them at home.
Roger Phillips illustrates 914 species in his book. These were all the species that he and a large number of mycologists were able to find and identify over five years
Many-zoned Polypore (Coriolus versicolor) passed by Three Points of the Compass on the North Downs Way
There are over three thousand larger fungi to be found in the British Isles but it is impossible to find all, many are extremely rare. For example Phillips includes a photograph of Lentaria delicata, that had not been collected since first described in 1821. He also found a small mushroom near Wisley that proved to be new to science and was named in his honour. There is an updated edition from Phillips but I don’t see the need to replace the one I have.
The New Guide to Mushrooms is another photographic guide but less formal in layout. It also includes a number of ‘in habitat’ photographs. Less species are included but they are the most likely to be encountered. With the other information included, it makes a pretty good, one stop shop. though it is certainly not the ‘Ultimate’ guide it is purported to be in its title.
Peter Jordan includes just the necessary detail, a requirement in such a large format, user friendly volume
If you want a traditional field guide, with drawings, that is pocket sized, then the two volume set in the Penguin Nature Guides series is fine. I reckon the drawings are better than those in the Collins field guide that was released some thirty five years later! Originally published in Sweden (in Swedish) by Wahlström & Widstrand in 1977, they were translated and republished a year later by Penguin.
Two pages from volume 2 of the Penguin Nature Guides for Fungi
Needless to say, Roger Phillips has produced a handy little pocket volume for Fungi I.D. This is also a useful accompaniment to his larger volume as it includes location photography as well
The New Naturalist series has been published since 1945. John Ramsbottom’s volume- Number 7 in the series- Mushrooms and Toadstools, is a classic, first published in 1953, mine is a reprint from 1969. The information in this book has never, to my knowledge, been repeated in any other book on the subject. Certainly not in such readable manner. Obviously some nomenclature has changed in the intervening years but the ‘whys’ and genus detail is accessible and really puts this fascinating natural history subject into context, including detail from when first collected and described
There is great fun to be had with fungi. While they may be encountered throughout the year, they are especially prevalent in the autumn, when less flowers are to be seen, so do much to restore interest in the forest floor.
It is some years since I last upended a fungi to make a spore print at home, but enjoyed those times immensely. I now content myself with the odd encounter with their various forms, striking colours and wild shapes as I pass them on my path.
Books in featured image:
Mushrooms and other fungi of Great Britain & Europe, Roger Phillips. Pan Books, 1981. ISBN 0 330 26441 9
The New Guide to Mushrooms, Peter Jordan. Sebastian Kelly, 1997. ISBN 1 901688 26 7
Penguin Nature Guides:
- Fungi of Northern Europe 1 Larger Fungi (excluding gill-fungi), Sven Nilsson and Olle Persson, illustrated by Bo Mossberg. Penguin Books, 1978
- Fungi of Northern Europe 2 Gill-fungi, Sven Nilsson and Olle Persson, illustrated by Bo Mossberg. Penguin Books, 1978