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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 6 October 2009
Prior to the recent publication of this book, there were two 'complete' [no book can be, but they make a stab in that direction] guides to the fungi of Britain. These are "The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe" by Michael Jordan, and "Mushrooms" by Roger Phillips. Both books are excellent large-format paperbacks that are ideal for identification purposes except in one respect - they are fairly large and heavy.

The purpose of this book in the face of two such excellent guides then is to provide something more of a 'field guide' that can be carried around when fungus hunting. This book is much larger than the 'Gem' guides' but much smaller than the two books above. It generally covers the same number of species as the books above, but in a smaller size.

So what's missing? Well, the textual descriptions, while abbreviated, are more than sufficient for identification purposes, the main omission being descriptions of what pores look like under a microscope - not something most readers will investigate. Apart from this, however, a more noticeable omission is whether species are edible, inedible, poisonous or deadly. This has long been a fixture of fungus enyclopedias, but you won't find it here, except for a few key species. If you want this information, buy the Jordan or Phillips books.

So the text is fine, what about the pictures - a book like this will usually be used by flicking through and looking at the photos. The photos in the book are of good quality, but they are all taken of upright fungi, and generally do not show the features of the stipe (stem) and gills/pores. Unfortunately without these gill/stipe shots it won't be possible to positively identify many species, and you will have to check another book, or search for images on the internet. The larger books, mentioned above, both have the space to provide more photography, which will make positive identification much more likely.

So in conclusion, the Jordan and Phillips books are the best fungus guides on the market, but if you are looking for a smaller 'field guide', this one is definitely the best available. Just don't be too disappointed if it turns out to be tricky to actually identify the fungi exclusively using this book.
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This is the tenth book of fungi I have bought so far*, and this probably ranks very close to the top if not the top because it is a good all rounder.

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
Phillips, Mushrooms
Jordan, The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe)
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on 3 December 2011
The coverage of the book is much wider than that of other mushroom pocket identification guides. Yes, the 1,500 photographs is a typical number but that is where it ends.

Before continuing, I must say that this account is personal and idiosyncratic, based on many years of using an increasing personal library of mushroom books and accumulated field experience, although the latter is still very amateur. I have not gone back to my other books to check my impressions but so many features of this book are unique to it that such an omission is of, at most, little consequence.

At the beginning of the book there is a page of colour photos illustrating cap shape and cap texture and others on gills and stem shapes and ringshapes and attachement, all diagnostic characters.

There are 7 pages of Main Fungal Genera and Groups, each with colour photo(s) and a paragraph of text. (Other books may have some sort of summary but I find this more comprehensive and user-friendly).

Towards the back of the book there is a section on Clubs, Corals and allies, better than in any other book, as are the ones on Stinkhorns and Cage Fungi, Bracket Fungi, Toothed Fungi, Earthtongues, Discos, Jellydish Fungi and Earthcups.

There is a useful section on Ruts, Smuts and Mildews.

Slime Moulds (14 illustrations) are a welcome intruder here. However, I have tried locating "moulds", "slime moulds" and "Myxomycetes" but they are absent from both the Contents and the Index. The species illustrated are listed in the Index so, if you know your slime mould genera, you are in with a chance. (They are on pages 334 & 335). In my opinion, not only should the Index have suitable terms added but the Contents should give more detail.

For the connoisseur there is a section on Dung Fungi and another on Burnt Ground Fungi.

Further specialist sections cover fungi of Oak Woods, Beech Woods, conifer woods, etc. Others cover bogs, marshes, grassland.

Lichens (4 pages) also have their section.

Finally, trees being specifically associated with various fungus species, there are four pages of trees and shrub bark, foliage and fruits photos which are not given comprehensively in popular guides to trees.

If you want one book on fungi this is the one, unless you want to know more about edibility or poisonous hazards of the species, which is not covered in this book.
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on 1 August 2015
As others have noted, this is an excellent book describing the various mushrooms of the UK by family which unfortunately has been let down by the lack of edibility status. This is unfortunate, as it would have otherwise been the closest thing to a field guide (of which there are none in this poorly documented field). Therefore, I highly recommend it as part of a larger library for developing a sense of mushroom species before going out into the field - or for aiding in identification post-collection, but I can't rate it as the perfect field guide, which is the main expected use for a photographic book such as this.
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on 11 March 2015
Useful guide. The illustrations are good. Most helpful for beginners, occasional interests. I wanted more species and more specific detail included so also bought a more comprehensive guide with drawings.
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on 21 August 2011
There's no such thing as a "complete" guide to anything, whatever the publishers might claim, and the authors make this quite clear in their introduction, defining the scope of their work, which is still extensive and includes many species I don't recall seeing in many other illustrated guides. The photographs are, in general, absolutely excellent, though it's very hard to show all key features in a single picture, and the text is concise and follows a simple format to aid in finding relevant details. I particularly like the sections at the end of the book dealing with the fungal associations of different habitats, but would like to have seen more rusts, smuts and slime moulds, which are usually neglected in other guide books. Only two small complaints - the use of made-up English names that are not in common usage on the photos means that I am constantly having to refer back to the facing text to check the more familiar scientific names, and the inclusion of specific epithets in the index under the name of the genus rather than in strict alphabetical order, followed by the genus (in brackets).

This book will definitely be accompanying me on country walks from now on.
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on 10 May 2013
Great book the dogs balls. Never forage mushrooms with out 100% certainty. When you get it wrong you DIE so be warned I studied fungi for THREE YEARS before I even put a finger on one and make a point of taking three ways of identifying them with me in the field so BE WARNED 99% doesn't do it 100% does.
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on 6 December 2015
Collins Complete Guides set the standard for this type of book, this one is no exception. Full of information, great photos and an easy to follow format. Absolutely no complaints about the whole range (which I have).
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on 5 November 2011
I have a fair collection of fungus guides (including older Collins guides from 1975, 1982 (Gem) and 1994) and this is one of my top 4 favourites alongside Roger Phillips' "Mushrooms", Michael Jordan's "Encyclopedia of Fungi" and Marcel Bon's "Mushrooms and Toadstools". None is perfect by itself but they complement each other superbly.
A popular book at forays, and size is ok to carry without too much difficulty. The range of fungi covered is one of the biggest and best and the photos are mostly excellent, although a few more views showing gills/pores and different stages of development where the changes are especially notable would have been even better. Presentation is excellent and the layout is quite easy to follow with good, clear feature and habitat descriptions for the fungi.
For many users it can work very well as a stand-alone guide, but for the more advanced comes into its own when used alongside e.g. Phillips. It intentionally gives little information on edibility/poisonousness, which is a little unusual and many users will miss; and there is nothing about spores, which for me is a more important omission. Edibility and spore detail would have made it more stand-alone for the very keen and raised it to the 5 stars I almost gave it.
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on 21 April 2013
My wife is polish, she as a lot of eastern europeans do collects wild fungi to eat as its what she has been brought up with. Well not every thing that grows here grows in poland and some things look remarkably simular but aren't the same thing others are just the uks isolated development of thing she knows, and knowing what you can eat and what will kill you with no known antidote is rather useful to put it mildly.
This book only tells you what is definitly a killer and then not all of them so whilst it is great for the latin and identification you still need to cross refernce it to a knowlageble and trusted source for edibility.
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