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240 × 153 mm
200 pages
93 illustrations, 67 in colour
01 Jul 2017

Mushrooms A Natural and Cultural History Nicholas P. Money

Mushrooms are loved, despised, feared and misunderstood. They have been a familiar part of nature throughout human history and occupy a special place in our consciousness. Nicholas P. Money introduces the mythology and science of the spectacular array of fungi that produce mushrooms, the history of our interactions with these curious and beautiful organisms, and the ways that humans use mushrooms as food, medicine and recreational drugs.

Mushrooms are not self-contained organisms like worms or beetles. They are fruit bodies, or reproductive organs, produced by fungi whose feeding colonies, or mycelia, are hidden in soil or rotting wood. These colonies support life on land by decomposing plant and animal debris, fertilizing soils and sustaining plant growth through partnerships called mycorrhizas. Some of the fungi that produce mushrooms cause diseases of trees and shrubs, and the airborne spores of others are a major cause of asthma and hay fever. Mushrooms release so many spores into the atmosphere that they may affect local weather conditions and promote rainfall. Poisonous mushrooms were described by classical writers and edible species were important in Roman cuisine. Mushrooms became the objects of scientific study in the seventeenth century. Pioneers of mushroom science have included paragons of eccentricity, and their remarkable stories are celebrated in this book.

‘With his characteristically smart and sassy wit, Money guides us through the science of fungi but also tackles cultural themes less often explored by mycologists, including the contentious terrains of psychedelic fungi, their simmering histories of superstition, and the dubious undercurrents of the medicinal mushroom industry. Money delights in debunking fungal myths and misunderstandings . . . Informative, entertaining and at times provocative, Mushrooms combines science, cultural histories and personal anecdotes in an inviting introduction for the novice venturing into fungal realms.’ – Australian Garden History

‘Queer things, these mushrooms. The people who study them – mycologists – can be pretty interesting too. One used to walk to work wearing horse blinkers to preserve his eyes for his experiments on bioluminescent mushrooms. Another tested the edibility of every mushroom in his book, One Thousand American Fungi. “As paragons of eccentricity, these individuals are peerless,” writes the author, a US professor of botany, who has produced a fascinating read.’ – Organic Gardener, Australia

‘I found it an easy read and devoured it in a single day. This will make a great present for the general naturalist as well as a diverting read for a long flight for the mycologist – especially at such a reasonable price for a hardback book today!’ – IMA Fungus (Journal of the International Mycological Association)

‘this book is simply amazing! It’s a great read, and absolutely bursting – like an over-ripe puff-ball – with a marvellous mix of mushroom information.’ – Botany One

‘Nicholas P. Money tells a riveting tale, based in fact, fiction, folkloric and science to present a delightful introduction to a species so very little understood aspect of Mother Nature.’ – Blue Wolf Reviews

‘an excellent introductory textbook for a budding mycologist, or an attractive gift for a mushroom enthusiast. The book is superbly and colourfully illustrated, with many useful diagrams spread over sixteen chapters including mushroom superstition, evolution, ecology, poisons and conservation’ – Oxveg News

‘A well written, authoritative and beautifully  illustrated account of mushroom life and lore, leavened with humour. An ideal introduction to the most beautiful members of nature’s least understood kingdom.’ – Richard Fortey FRS, author of Life: An Unauthorised Biography

‘A fascinating tour around the weird world of mushrooms and of the people who study them. As a botanist I learnt a lot about the natural world from the different perspective of these familiar yet obscure organisms.’ – Professor Roland Ennos, University of Hull

‘Nicholas Money has done it again! Mushrooms is a masterful overview of mycology, written with clarity, wit, and affection. There simply is no better review of the subject out there. Mycophiles and gardeners – really, anyone who seeks to understand nature in a deeper way – will appreciate this excellent book. I know I do.’ – Eugenia Bone, author of Mycophilia: Revelations From the Weird World of Mushrooms

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Nicholas P. Money is Professor of Botany and Western Program Director at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of eight books, including Mr. Bloomfield’s Orchard: The Mysterious World of Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycologists (2002) and The Amoeba in the Room: Lives of the Microbes (2014). You can find out more about Nik via his website.