Ever since I learned about koji from The Noma Guide to Fermentation, I have developed a deeper fascination for all things fungi. So I picked this book up after seeing it recommended during several internet searches. Each page has stunning pictures of the wide variety of fungi that are known. Additionally, though the text is minimal, I learned lots of new insights about the different classifications and taxonomy.
The majority of the books is divided up based on different phyla and form groups, focusing primarily on the best well known Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. Some of the fun tidbits Iearned:
- During the Middle Ages, lichens growing on human skulls – under the name ‘muscus cranii humani’ – were used to supposedly cure epilepsy.
- A-mycorrhiza are less diverse, with relatively few species in the phylum Glomeromycota, and form arbuscules inside the root cells between the cell wall and cell membrane. Plants involved include most vegetables and fruit trees.
- Gasteroid fungi form their spores inside sacs that then rely on outside entities to disperse them. This can be in the form of rain, like with puffballs and bird’s nest fungi (which keep their spores in small ‘periodioles’) or stinkhorns that use foul smells to attract insects for dispersal.
- An estimated 93% of fungal species have yet to be discovered!
The photos make it great for coffee table browsing while the brief text segments give a better understanding of how the kingdom is organized. If you are fascinated by the fungal world, or even just curious, I’d recommend it.
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