Pondering Mycological Mysteries in the North Woods--book recommendations?
June 22, 2008 1:23 PM   Subscribe

What field guide for mushrooms should I get?

I've got the local Fascinating Fungi of the North Woods, but it's limited. So it's between the big Mushrooms Demystified, which I looked over long ago and liked... or the Peterson's Guide for my region. Or something else? What would you recommend for a hobbyist mycologist who isn't afraid of reading things I don't understand (yet)?
posted by RedEmma to Science & Nature (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am partial to the Audubon Society's Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. It has good color photographs of every species, as well as detailed writeups with description, edibility, season, habitat, geographic range, look-alikes and comments.
posted by beagle at 1:37 PM on June 22, 2008

Go with the Peterson's guide. The big-ass encyclopedic books will be more all-encompassing and with better identification keys, naturally, but they're way too unwieldy to take along on forays, and Peterson's really knows how to make a field guide. All That the Rain Promises, and More is a pretty great little guide, too, but it's focused more on the western states.

I made a post on mushroom websites a while back. That may help you, too.
posted by cog_nate at 2:23 PM on June 22, 2008

All the Rain Promises is by the same guy who wrote Mushrooms Demystified. Both are pretty good but a little west-coasty.

If I were choosing between Peterson's or Demystified I'd go with Demystified.

My personal favorite—Field Guide to the Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic. But I did some work on it so I'm impartial. I also live in Pennsylvania.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:00 PM on June 22, 2008

David Arora (the Demystified guy) is a legend. I've done a few mushroom walks, and on every single one the docents highly touted his books.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:52 PM on June 22, 2008

As a mycologist grad student, I would definitely go with Mushrooms Demystified. Take your time with learning the broad categories and practice keying out species you already know (like a supermarket mushroom). You can be led astray by picture-based mushroom field guides all too easily. Have fun! Mushroom hunting is great.
posted by emyd at 7:37 PM on June 22, 2008

I love the Peterson's guide.

Obligatory mushroom hunters Safety Note:

If you ever have even a *slight* doubt on the exact ID of a mushroom, do your liver a favor and don't eat it.
posted by JimmyJames at 8:41 PM on June 22, 2008

Seconding Peterson's Field Guide - it's the one I always take into the field. I ultralight hike, but still end up carrying this tome...

I have a copy of Audubon Society's Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, signed by the master himself at a SW Pennsylvania Mushroom Club get-together (they host the "Gary Lincoff Mushroom Foray", go figure he'd show!), but for whatever reason I just can't wrap my head around the way he guides you to the species.

For at-home identification, I heartily second David Arora's Demystified - but as a field guide, it's too bulky, with too few pictures. I don't have the leisure to read that much in the field. OTOH, I've read Al the Rain Promises (another of his books) just because he's such a fun writer (but it's in no way a field guide).
posted by IAmBroom at 9:34 PM on June 22, 2008

I own and love Mushrooms Demystified, so I will third or fourth that one. Never had a problem using it to identify and it doubles as surprisingly entertaining bathroom reading. I haven't ever used the Peterson's guide though, so I can't do a comparison (might get it now though after everyone's recommendation).
posted by DanielDManiel at 3:48 AM on June 23, 2008

well, sounds like i'm getting Peterson's for the field, and i'll find my way to Demystified later on, for home reading. (limited budget, doncha know.)

thanks, everyone.

(and yeah, JimmyJames--i'm super paranoid about dying on accident and all that. :) )
posted by RedEmma at 9:38 AM on June 23, 2008

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