Mushrooms of North America by Phillips

Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America by Roger (2005), Roger Phillips
319 pages, hardcover. ISBN 978-1554071159, Firefly Books (revised edition)

            This hardcover edition is a reprint of Roger’s popular 1991 paperback book, Mushrooms of North America. The cover and title are slightly different, other than that, and the fact that the newer version is hardcover and the original is softcover, these books are identical.

            The book has a simple one page key, then the mushrooms are grouped by genera, which can have huge advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you prefer or what you happen to be looking up at the time. It is not particularly helpful if you are trying to key out a mushroom that you have no idea what it might be. But, if you know you have, say, a Bolete, an Amanita, and a Lactarius, you can go to those respective sections to try to locate the species you are looking for. The index is laid out well, with the genera indexed in bold print and the common names in regular print, while the main entries are listed alphabetically by species, followed by a comma, then the genera. There are several mushrooms per page, and the corresponding photographs can be found on the same page or the facing page, which means you don’t have to go to another section of the book to find the picture of the description you’re reading about. The photographs are generally good quality, but the size varies. Obviously, the larger pictures are much more useful than the smaller ones.

            Along with the Latin names, common names are sometimes given, though not as often as many other guides. The mushroom descriptions are adequate, including odor and taste comments where applicable, edibility, spore print color, and spore size. Measurements of the fruiting body are listed in both metric and standard, which is quite handy for those of us who grew up learning the standard system of measurement. Notes on habitat are usually provided, as well as occasional brief notes on edibility. Roger does not embellish or go into much additional text beyond the description of the mushroom, so this could pretty much be called a practical, no frills reference book to N. American mushrooms.

            Despite a few limitations, this book should be considered a must addition to the mushroom hunter’s library. Beginners will appreciate the abundance of photographs (over 1,000). And, despite the fact that this is not a regional guide, the number of local species that can be found this book is quite surprising.  

Review written April 3, 2010 / Steve Roberts / CMS President



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