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Collins Complete British Mushrooms and Toadstools: The essential photograph guide to Britain’s fungi (Collins Complete Guides) Paperback – 3 Sep 2009
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Praise for the Collins Complete series:
'Wonderfully descriptive photographs'
‘Whether you are a keen amateur or someone with a passing interest, this book will satisfy your needs.’
'Packs in lots of well-chosen detail in compact form'
British Wildlife Magazine
About the Author
Paul Sterry has written and illustrated more than 50 books, including the bestselling Collins Complete Guide to British Wildlife and Collins Complete Guide to British Birds.
Trained as a zoologist, Paul has been a wildlife photographer for over 20 years and regularly undertakes research expeditions. He has worked as a Research Fellow at Sussex University studying freshwater ecology. Paul is a keen birder and conservationist.
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It's very comprehensive in its coverage (unlike many of the pocket guides) whilst remaining sufficiently small to be useful as a field guide (unlike Phillips and Jordan). Perhaps the only one I might possibly rate above this as a field guide is the Evans & Kibby book because of its well presented identification hints, although the arrangement of species within that book is a little unusual.
The photography, all taken in situ, is excellent although agarics and boletes are often represented by a single sample (which is something where Phillips excels by having multiple specimens, albeit uprooted and plonked on a table to be photographed).
There is a brief end section which contains information on tree identification and examples of fungi associated with different trees, helpful identification information which fungi books tend to lack. Whilst useful as a starter, I would have liked to have seen something more comprehensive.
On a final note, anyone looking to buy a book for identifying edible fungi should look elsewhere, as the edibility or otherwise of each species is not indicated.
(*After, in roughly size order,
Gardweidner, Mushrooms and Toadstools (Collins Nature Guide)
Anon, Field Guide to Mushrooms and Other Fungi of Britain and Europe
Spooner, Mushrooms and Toadstools (Collins Wild Guide)
Evans & Kibby, Fungi (Pocket Nature)
Grunert, Field Guide to Mushrooms of Britain and Europe
Lawrence & Harniess, Mushrooms and Other Fungi (Identification Guides)
Keizer, The Complete Encyclopedia of Mushrooms
Jordan, The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe)
This book will definitely be accompanying me on country walks from now on.
The authors concentrate more on the actual mushrooms, descriptions, where they are found with useful cross-referencing relating to habitat type. So if you find something unfamiliar under, say, a pine tree then you are likely to find it by going to that section first.
There is a handy terminological glossary for those less familiar with mycological anatomy terms and a section on the correct way to collect mushrooms without getting too 'precious' about it.
Although mentioned, there is not much description relating to edibility, although poisonous species are clearly labelled, so gastronomes may be slightly disappointed from that point of view but there is a good section on character recognition which is vital to such a book.
The book is a handy pocket size, at a very good price and a very useful tool in the field.
This book doesn't have edibility notes - although if you're adventurous enough to be eating mushrooms you should have several ID guides anyway so this isn't a huge oversight. What is slightly crazy is that in most cases it includes no pictures of the gills. This is seems like a fairly astounding oversight as gills are on of the most obvious identifying features of a mushroom. Of course this would have doubled the size of the book and I can see why they didn't include it... but even so....
Except for that, it's a truly excellent book.