California Mushrooms

California Mushrooms


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California Mushrooms by Dennis E. Desjardin, Michael G. Wood, Frederick A. Stevens

Winner of the CBHL Award of Excellence

California is one of the most ecologically rich and diverse regions of North America, and home to hundreds of species of mushrooms. In California Mushrooms, mycologist experts Dennis Desjardin, Michael Wood, and Fred Stevens provide over 1100 species profiles, including comprehensive descriptions and spectacular photographs. Each profile includes information on macro- and micromorphology, habitat, edibility, and comparisons with closely related species and potential look-alikes. Although the focus of the book is on mushrooms of California, over 90% of the species treated occur elsewhere, making the book useful throughout western North America. This complete reference covers everything necessary for the mushroom hunter to accurately identify over 650 species.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604693539
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/26/2015
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 789,682
Product dimensions: 8.60(w) x 11.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Dennis E. Desjardin teaches biology at San Francisco State University. He received a master’s degree from San Francisco State University and a PhD from the University of Tennessee. Desjardin is a fellow of the Mycological Society of America, and a winner of the Alexopoulos Prize for outstanding research, the William H. Weston Award for teaching excellence, and a fellowship with the California Academy of Sciences. He has published over 140 scientific papers on the taxonomy and evolution of mushroom-forming fungi.

Michael G. Wood, a California native, is a computer consultant by profession and a mycologist and photographer by obsession. He is a past president of the Mycological Society of San Francisco (MSSF) and chair of its systematics committee; the publisher and webmaster for MykoWeb (; and the former webmaster for the MSSF and the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) websites. Wood has been an avid mushroom collector, photographer, and taxonomist for over 30 years. His mushroom photographs have been published in many scientific journals, books, magazines, newspapers, and websites. He has led numerous workshops and countless forays for the MSSF and others, and is currently collaborating on a second book, Mushrooms of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Frederick A. Stevens has a doctorate in botany from UCLA. He has photographed and studied the macrofungi of the San Francisco Bay Area for more than two decades, with a special interest in gasteromycetes and the genus Agaricus. Stevens is the coauthor, with Michael G. Wood, of The Fungi of California (, and a past president of the Mycological Society of San Francisco. He has led numerous mushroom walks and consults with physicians and veterinarians on mushroom poisonings.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: What Are Fungi?
Fungi are organisms with a unique combination of features that distinguish them from plants, animals, and all other life forms. Kingdom Fungi comprises approximately 100,000 described species, although conservatively, it is estimated that over 1.5 million fungi occur on planet earth, and likely closer to 3 million. Fungi shared a common ancestor with animals 1–1.2 billion years ago, evolving from a population of aquatic, unicellular organisms with a single, posterior, whiplash flagellum, morphologically similar to a mammalian sperm cell or a chytrid zoospore. From this simple origin, a minimum of five distinct lineages arose, resulting in what we now recognize as the Chytridiomycota (chytrids and relatives), Zygomycota (bread molds), Glomeromycota (arbuscular mycorrhizae or endomycorrhizal fungi), Ascomycota (morels, cup fungi, truffles, yeasts, molds, mildews, and others), and Basidiomycota (rusts, smuts, gilled mushrooms, boletes, polypores, spine and coral fungi, puffballs, and allies). Fungi are mostly multicellular organisms (except for yeasts and some chytrids), with cell walls formed primarily from the complex polysaccharide chitin. The main body of a fungus is a filamentous chain of cells called hyphae, which form an extensive network of filaments known as a mycelium. Unlike plants that produce their own nutrition through photosynthesis, fungi, like animals, are heterotrophic, i.e., require an outside source of nutrition.

Fungi get their food by extracellular digestion of dead or living substrates, or their nutrition is provided by a photosynthetic symbiont (a plant, alga, or cyanobacterium). The mycelium is perennial and may live for decades or centuries, serving numerous ecological roles. Fungi reproduce and disperse by the formation of asexual (genetically identical) or sexual (genetically different) spores produced on the mycelium or in complex reproductive structures. The spore-producing structures are usually short-lived and form only under specific environmental conditions. The focus of this book is fungi that form sexual reproductive structures commonly called mushrooms.
About the Book
This book, a guide to the identification of mushrooms of California, of necessity focuses on the only part of the mushroom life cycle that is readily observable: the reproductive stage, i.e., the “mushroom,” defined here as the structure on which genetically variable sexual spores are formed for dispersal and reproduction. We include organisms from two major lineages of fungi—the Basidiomycota, whose sexual spores are formed externally on a cell called a basidium, and the Ascomycota, with sexual spores formed inside of a cell called an ascus. The mushroom-forming species included in this book occur within the boundaries of California, although most included species also occur outside of the state. Voucher specimens are deposited primarily in the Harry D. Thiers Herbarium at San Francisco State University (SFSU), with a few at the University of California, Berkeley (UC). The species descriptions are based on the following: personal observations of the authors from data documented over the past 30 years; unpublished data from other professional and amateur mycologists derived from California specimens; and published data on California species, verified by us from analyses of vouchered specimens. Data presented in the descriptions represent the variation observed in California populations, not the overall variation reported for the species throughout its entire geographic range. Most of the photographs in this book were taken in California; however, where representative photos were not available, a few photographs from Oregon and Washington were included. The attribution for each photograph is given in parentheses at the end of the photo legend; see Photo Credits for more information.

We estimate approximately 3000 species of mushrooms occur in California. Because of book limitations, we provide comprehensive descriptions of 650 species with reference and comparisons to an additional 475 California species. Species included in the book were chosen based on the following criteria: common species likely to be encountered year after year; representative species from a broad sampling of habitats ranging from deserts, grasslands, and bogs to coastal, central valley, foothill, and montane forests; species originally described from California or unusual species found only in California (endemics); and, finally, species for which quality photographs were available.

This book is designed to guide the reader as quickly and efficiently as possible to an accurate mushroom identification. For simplicity, the organization emphasizes mushroom body form and spore deposit color. Mushrooms have evolved a number of easily recognizable body forms adapted for maximum spore production and efficient spore dispersal. These include chanterelles and other gilled fungi, boletes, polypores, spine fungi, club and coral fungi, puffballs and allied gasteroid fungi, crust fungi, jelly fungi, morels, cup fungi, and hypogeous fungi. These body forms have evolved independently a number of different times, such that all species with a specific body form are not necessarily closely related. Our organizational strategy does not reflect phylogenetic relationships among the genera included. To do so would make the book confusing and unnecessarily complicated. For example, if we were to present the mushrooms in a phylogenetic context, we would have to include in one chapter all genera belonging to the order Russulales: the stipitate-gilled Russula and Lactarius, sessile-gilled Lentinellus, polypore Albatrellus, spine fungi Auriscalpium and Hericium, crust fungus Peniophora, stereoid fungus Stereum, and many others (see the table on page 000).

Each section begins with an overview of the mushroom group included, and a dichotomous key to help lead the user to an appropriate species description. Only species with full descriptions are included in the keys. Closely related species and look-alikes are compared in the comments that conclude each description.

Understanding the evolutionary history (phylogeny) of mushrooms informs our taxonomic concepts. The addition of molecular data to the suite of taxonomic characters upon which species circumscriptions are based has greatly advanced our understanding of species relationships and has consequently changed the taxonomy and the names used. For many years, mushrooms from California were identified using literature mostly based on species occurring in Europe or eastern North America. Recent molecular studies have indicated that many species in western North America are different from their counterparts to the east, even though morphologically they fit their published descriptions. As a result, different names must be used for western North American species. This research is ongoing, and fortunately a number of mycologists are actively studying California species in attempts to clarify their phylogenetic histories and taxonomic boundaries.

We have tried to use the most appropriate genus and species names for the mushrooms included in this field guide, based on available data. In most cases we accept the “current name” as listed in the websites Species Fungorum and MycoBank, unless we have contradicting data. Because the nomenclatural history of some species is long and confusing, we provide author citations for each species. These are the names that follow the specific epithet, indicating who the originating author of the species was or who transferred it into the currently accepted genus. We use the author citations and abbreviations as provided by the website Index Fungorum.

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California Mushrooms 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
CantakerousWino More than 1 year ago
The Nook version doesn't have pictures! I would never have purchased this had I been aware that the word "image" is placed where the photos should be. I'm extremely vexed to have paid for this, and still waiting on word from B&N as to how I can return and be refunded.
RDMackler More than 1 year ago
I have been interested in California fungi, have collected for the table, and have taught beginners how to identify local species for over forty years. It has been a long wait for a thoroughly professional and well illustrated comprehensive field guide. With the publication of this volume, all of my expectations have been met and exceeded. It is clearly the best mushroom guide I have owned in four decades! The scientific introduction is clear and up to date on the complex issues of modern taxonomy. The species descriptions are accurate and most helpful. However, the single most significant feature of this book is the collection of individual species photographs.. The clarity, amount of detail and number (650!) equates to the most useful mushroom guide currently available in the U.S. An added bonus for those of us who live in the Sierra foothills is the amount of montane species covered. A very impressive book.