Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard: The Mysterious World of Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycologists

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Stinkhorns, puffballs, the "corpse finder," deadly Galerina, Satan's bolete, birch conks, black mold, the old man of the woods—the world of fungi is infinitely varied and not a little weird. Now, in Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard, Nicholas Money introduces readers to a dazzling array of fungi, from brewer's yeast and Penicillium to the highly lethal death cap. We learn of Madurella, which can erode bones until they look moth-eaten; Cordyceps, which wracks insects with convulsions, kills them, then sends a stalk out of the insect's head to release more infectious spores; and Claviceps, the poisonous ergot fungus, which causes hallucinations.
Money also showcases the lives of famed mycologists—including Reginald Buller who wore horse blinders as he walked to work, the better to study luminescent fungi in his dark lab, and Charles Tulasne, the Audubon of fungi, whose illustrations of specimens border on art. And he recounts his own childhood introduction to fungi in Mr. Bloomfield's orchard, where trees and fruit were devoured by a rogue's gallery of bitter rot, canker, rust, powdery mildew, rubbery wood, and scab. Replete with historical photographs and simple yet effective illustrations, told with a refreshing sense of humor,Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard will fascinate anyone interested in the natural world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A companionable foray into the realm of stinkhorns, black mold, yeast, and even Malassezia, the dandruff-related fungus that Head & Shoulders shampoo is designed to combat. Money is an English-born mycologist who has spent his life uncovering the secrets and lore of fungi, including varieties that thrive in solid granite, feed on human flesh, assist in crime-scene investigations, and, as in the case of a particular armillaria covering twenty-two hundred acres in Oregon, grow to become the largest organisms on earth."—The New Yorker

"A forest carpeted with mushrooms; dandruff; athlete's foot; and killer diseases that attack the lungs and nervous system all come under Money's expert scrutiny as he reveals the realm of fungi in all its amazing diversity. Assuredly fascinating and highly entertaining, Money's chronicle boasts an inimitable style that mixes up factbased information and creative analogies. Stories of scientists such as A. H. R. Bullet, who recorded his discoveries in countless volumes, together with Money's curious observations—such as his attentive look at black mold growing on window frames and contemplation of the realities of flesh-penetrating organisms that do great bodily harm—keep things lively.... Definitely for science devotees who appreciate rollicking good humor."—Booklist

"Money's writing is accommodating and personal, with occasional chummy asides. Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard can be recommended to all nature lovers, regardless of background, who want to know more about fungi."—Nature

"Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard drives home the fundamental lesson of biology: life is weird. Fungi and animals are kissing cousins on the tree of life, and yet it would be hard to imagine creatures more alien and bizarre than the mushrooms and molds that Nicholas Money introduces us to. Best of all, he introduces them with wit and insight, making his book a pleasure."—Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex and Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea

"A book for anyone who has ever marveled at a mushroom in the lawn, or shuddered at a tale of intractable fungal infection. Fungi are Nik Moneys passion, and he presents them with the empathy of the naturalist and the erudition of the scholar. At once informative and entertaining, he has produced a splendid read."—Franklin M. Harold, author of The Way of the Cell

Seattle Times
Much of Money's adored topic -- which he discusses with big words and a gleeful sense of humor -- has freak-show appeal. Imagine having a skeleton of water, for example, or needing insect assistants for reproduction. Many fungi are slimy or sickly in color, smelly or so suggestively disgusting (see illustrations!) that against one variety 'Charles Darwin's daughter ... mounted an antifungal jihad with the aid of gloves and a pointed stick.
Science News
Fungi aren't exactly high in the affections of most people, who generally think they could just as well do without this often smelly nook of the living kingdom. Money turns that idea inside out. He reports that one fungus in Oregon covers more than 2,000 acres and is now considered the world's largest organism. Another fungus, Madurella, can erode human bones until they look moth eaten. In an effort to enlighten readers, especially biologists, about the 'intimate' connection that we have with mushrooms and molds, he recounts the history, life cycle, and quirks of the most unusual breeds--including Phallus impudicus, a mushroom that closely resembles a penis. Along the way, Money specifies how these organisms benefit people in inconspicuous ways and profiles mycologists, such as himself, who have devoted their careers to studying fungi.
The New Yorker
Nicholas P. Money is wild about mushrooms. "I count myself among the few humans who love fungi, truly, madly, deeply," he writes in Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard, a companionable foray into the realm of stinkhorns, black mold, yeast, and even Malassezia, the dandruff-related fungus that Head & Shoulders shampoo is designed to combat. Money is an English-born mycologist who has spent his life uncovering the secrets and lore of fungi, including varieties that thrive in solid granite, feed on human flesh, assist in crime-scene investigations, and, as in the case of a particular armillaria covering twenty-two hundred acres in Oregon, grow to become the largest organisms on earth.

Of course, the fruiting bodies of various fungi are prized for their epicurean and hallucinogenic properties. In Morel Tales, the sociologist Gary Alan Fine makes an amusing study of the "culture of mushrooming," tagging along with intrepid members of the Minnesota Mycological Society as they perform the "naturework" of plucking such deep-woods delicacies as slippery jacks and bringing them home to sauté. Wild mushrooms, Fine writes, are "culturally mediated objects," and millions of risk-loving Americans now enjoy the weekend thrill of harvesting them.

Peter Jordan's Wild Mushroom is too hefty for your backpack, but perfect for the kitchen. Jordan is a British mushroomer who offers tips on identifying toothsome amethyst deceivers or lethal death caps, recipes for whipping up Hedgehog Mushroom Pancakes or Shaggy Ink Cap Soup, and endless enthusiasm: "Imagine the ultimate triumph of finding your first giant puffball -- its head actually bigger than your own!" (Mark Rozzo)

Library Journal
This book offers a fascinating closeup of some of the author's favorite fungi, including mushrooms, molds, rusts, and aquatic species. While it is intended for a general audience, a basic knowledge of biology will help readers follow some of the intricate fungal life cycles and physiology presented here. Money (botany, Miami Univ.) keeps things interesting by relating the economic, medical, and ecological importance of mushrooms, molds, and other fungi, as well as their strangeness from our human perspective. His practically nonstop humor is irreverent and offbeat, which makes for some lively reading. Similar popular works by academicians include George Hudler's Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds, which gives a broad overview of the fungi and their significance, and Elio Schaecter's more restricted In the Company of Mushrooms. Money's work, by comparison, delves more into the biology of several select fungal species and types and into the lives and research of a few well-known mycologists, as well as the science of modern-day mycology. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195171587
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/8/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Lexile: 1400L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas P. Money teaches in the Department of Botany at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. He has an international reputation as an expert on mechanisms of fungal growth and development.

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Table of Contents

1. Offensive Phalli and Frigid Caps
2. Insidious Killers
3. What Lies Beneath
4. Metamorphosis
5. The Odd Couple
6. Ingold's Jewels
7. Siren Songs
8. Angels of Death
9. Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard

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