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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 16 October 2007
For someone who appreciates flora and fauna AND good books - This is a fantastic buy. As a relative beginner to the world of fungi, this book ticks all the boxes for a reference book (so probably a bit big for the field). There are loads of information (basic and advanced) on each fungus and of particular interest to me: The common name of most of the fungi is included. Our fungi have been named with elaborate and humorous names which I find easier to remember than the Latin name. I mainly have a culinary interest in mushrooms and this has great notes on edibility and the fact that you need to know which ones CAN'T be eaten, so congratulations on a truly great piece of work.
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on 21 October 2008
Like many people, the original edition of this book was my first field ID book on fungi. Being so familiar with it's structure, it is really easy for me to locate something I've found in Roger Phillips' book. The simple key at the beginning usually gets you straight to the right section of the book to identify your mushroom. Happily for me, the structure of the original is preserved in this new edition.

As I have progressed with my mycophilia over the years I have acquired most of the readily available field guides on the market. This is the inevitable curse of the mushroom hunter. There are always a number of species covered in each new guide that do not appear in the others. I am always seeking the one perfect field guide. The truth is, you often need to check a particular specimen in several, but I always come back to the Phillips.

The key to this book's success must be the consistently high quality of the photographs. He is a fantastic photographer and despite (or perhaps because of)his insistence on removing the specimens to a studio, these images capture accurately the essential details of each species. Compare the perhaps more erudite Encyclopedia by M. Jordan, where each example is photographed in situ; I find I am often hardly able to recognise the fungus in front of me from the image captured in the shifting natural light of Jordan's less adept photography. Phillips maintains his attention to quality images in this new edition, with many new entries to the guide.

Hats off to this most excellent of mushroom books and its author.

P.S. If there is one perfect book on fungi ID, relevant to the UK, then J.Breitenbach and F.Kranzlin "Fungi of Switzerland" would be the one. However, this is now in 6 weighty tomes at about £90 a volume. Not exactly a portable field guide then.
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on 8 May 2017
"The" definitive book on British Shrooms

Its a bit big to use as a field guide but never the less an excellent reference.
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on 23 February 2016
ohwa..exelent mushrooms guide
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on 4 December 2011
For anyone contemplating this book, I'd shell out for a second-hand copy of Phillips' original:

Mushrooms and Other Fungi of Great Britain and Europe (A Pan original) (Or at least buy it in addition.)

The original book is vastly superior for the following reasons:

1. The 'visual key' to the main families. In the original this spans a double-page spread and therefore gives an idea of their appearance and dimensions relative to one another. This is entirely lost in the updated version.

2. The quality of photography. The differences between species can be so subtle, you really need accurate photography to make a judgement. Considering when the original book was first printed (1981) it must have been an enormously expensive undertaking using conventional photography and reprographics. The detail of the original photographs is exquisite, the colours are realistic, and moreover consistent throughout the book.

Some pictures in the updated edition have been re-shot digitally, and all have been compressed to reformat them into the updated (smaller) page size. A big mistake, in my view. Firstly for the loss of fine detail in compression, but also the way that digital photography renders colour compared with film.

The updated book has wide variations in colour rendering throughout. Rather tricky for the novice to compare species photographed using different techniques... I think Phillips should have re-shot all pictures at the new size and for consistency of colourisation, but he didn't.

Editing and referencing in the 'updated' version is sloppy too - some text refers to the wrong picture (and species) entirely. I can see some dangerous mistakes being made using this book. Please no-one rely on it for identification for consumption without cross-referencing the original.

That said, some of the updated material is of interest to the experienced mycologist.
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on 9 November 2009
Phillips' book is compact, beautiful, well-organised, and somewhat too large and heavy to take into the field.

Phillips has studied fungi for 30 years, as well as producing excellent guides to other areas of natural history, such as grasses, trees, herbs, and wild food. There can be no doubt, though, that fungi are more of a challenge, and his skill and experience are visible in this book.

One choice is immediately obvious: most of the colour plates are wonderful photographs - almost as clear as traditional field-guide paintings - with fresh specimens young and mature, whole and sectioned, cap and stem, carefully arranged on coloured paper. This is an interesting and intelligent choice, a deliberate compromise between the analytic clarity of paintings and the desire to show the inevitable colour variation and imperfection of real specimens - while stopping short of trying to show the environment of every species. Actually, Phillips sometimes also includes an image taken in the wild, or else includes a fern-frond, pine-cone or sprig of moss to show where you may find the species.

The page design is clean and inviting; the text is quite small but legible, and the style quite discursive for a guidebook. However, the descriptions are detailed and systematic.

Attributes listed are cap, stem, flesh, gills, spores, habitat, and edibility, on which last Phillips is very detailed. Dimensions are indicated by saying the illustration is 40% life size, etc, which is not quite as handy as giving an actual size but good enough.

I found this an excellent book for actual identification. If you are going to take photographs to help in identifying your finds, you could do well to copy Phillips' style here and arrange specimens on card with sections, caps etc, with perhaps a small coin or ruler for scale. Then when you want to know whether the gills are free or adnate, you will be able to find out.

Phillips and his publisher have made a really serious effort to make identifying fungi easier and more fun. They have found English names for the groups - Coral Fungi, Jelly Fungi, Morels, Finger & Disc Fungi, and so on. Admittedly the largest group of Basidiomycetes is simply "Mushrooms with Gills", and this occupies 250 pages of the book (out of 382). So there is no real alternative to Latin names for the genera.

But Phillips has another trick up his sleeve here: a wonderful Visual Index over 3 pages to the 35 main genera - the richly coloured Russula, the shiny Hygrocybe (Waxcaps), the fragile Mycena (Bonnets) and so on. Each index entry has a fine thumbnail photograph and a matching square of about 50 words summarising the nature of the genus. It is ingenious, beautiful, and genuinely helpful - I think you will find you get to the right genus in under a minute for many specimens.

The glossary, by contrast, is a bit heavy and traditional - why ever did he choose to say Infundibuliform when Funnel-shaped would have done better? And it is not illustrated.

If this book fitted into a pocket, it would be almost perfect. As it is, it is a delight in the study - or in the kitchen for after a mushroom-hunt: Phillips offers careful advice on choosing safe and edible mushrooms. If you are looking for just one mushroom book, this is an excellent choice, unless you want a field-guide.
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on 8 September 2006
In the early 1980s, when Pan published Roger Phillips' pioneering Mushrooms and Other Fungi of Great Britain and Europe I immediately purchased a copy for identifying British fungi. At the time it was revolutionary in the use of photographs that allowed the author to depict mushrooms much more accurately than the paintings of earlier guides. Until recently, it was still one of the top field guides to this region (also check Courtecuisse & Duhem, and Jordan). I still use this volume a lot for identifying American fungi, both in the tropics and northward. Although I have over 200 field guides of different sorts on my shelves, this remains one of my all time favourites.

This current book, Mushrooms, supersedes the older Phillips guide - although I will not be parting with mine. It follows the format of the original book quite closely, but is now slightly smaller to make it more of a field guide - about the same size as Skinner's Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles and, although still won't fit into a pocket, it is much more manageable than the older A4-sized book. There are 1,250 photographs, all of the excellent quality one associates with the author. Some 200 extra species are treated. Taxonomy and text has been brought up to date and into line with the standard taxonomy and nomenclature of lists published by the British Mycological Society.

If you're interested in fungi, don't hesitate - this book must be on your shelves. When you consider how much work went into this project, this represents tremendous value for money.

Chris Sharpe, 8 September 2006. ISBN: 0330442376
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on 13 November 2005
When considering a reference book on wild food, the author Roger Philips is perhaps one of the best.
I first bought this book whilst on a camping holiday with my family in about 1982. We had often walked past mushrooms on our walks through the countryside and been intrigued. Wishing to learn more about the fascinating subject of wild mushrooms we bought this book and have never looked back.
Our learning has been enhanced by the addition of further reading over the years but we always come back to this little gem that slips so easily into the back pocket. A book to carry with you where ever you go as an excellent reference to what you can and what you cannot eat in the way of wild mushrooms.
We have learned so much about the subject simply because one can compare the excellent photographs with what we have found in the countryside. You will never regret buying this book which is excellent value.
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on 6 September 2016
I have recently become very interested in mushroom collecting. The thought of delving into the forest and collecting free, delicious fungi just enthralls me. However, being a relative beginner, I felt that i needed a comprehensive guide that would help me determine safe and poisonous mushrooms. I was slightly reluctant to pay £16 for this book, but when it arrived i instantly knew it was worth every penny. Rather than the blurry, often confusing, pictures I have seen in other books, nearly every page of this Roger Phillip's Mushrooms is plastered with high-quality photographs that make identification a breeze. To top this off each picture correlates to a small section of writing in which the author uses his encyclopedic knowledge of the mushroom kingdom to help you identify your harvet.

The author, Roger Phillips, has obviously poured his heart into this book. This is probably why is took him over 20 years to write. If you are in the market for the ultimate in mushroom identification books, this really is the only sensible choice.
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on 16 October 2008
As the other reviewers have said this is a very good book. It has very good photos and descriptions for virtually everything you'll come across in the UK. But it is too big to fit in your pocket (I put it in my rucksack), and it lacks a key for aiding identification. It is a brilliant book nonetheless, I'm just waiting for a decent pocket sized book with key, so I can leave this one at home to bring samples back to when I can't quite work out what something is. Until then this is one of the best books for those who are serious about identifying mushrooms, for fun, for eating, or for recording species.
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