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234 × 138 × 20 mm
224 pages
100 illustrations, 90 in colour
01 Jun 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.

‘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 natures 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

‘In Mushrooms, one gets an introduction into this fascinating world of fungi and a few highlights of the personalities of those who study them. The text is well organized for readers with little or no biology background, and it is also well written . . . Overall, it is a how-to guide for the beginner studying mushrooms, and presents basic information on the biology and construction of fungi. This is enhanced by good illustrations using both modern photographs and also those derived from classic works . . . Recommended.’ — Choice

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Nicholas P. Money is Professor of Biology and Western Program Director at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of many books on science including Mushrooms: A Natural and Cultural History (Reaktion, 2017) and The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization (2018).