Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Audubon 'Shrooming Book

Finally, I found The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms at our used bookstore in Riverton.

If you haven’t examined one of these Audubon Society books, you really should. They are usually a bit pricy, but are well worth the investment if you can afford them.  Personally, I can’t so I have to wait around until I find what I need in a thrift store, yard sale, or my fantastic used bookstore, Meadowlark’s.

There is a whole series of Audubon Society books on just about anything native to North America.  Flowering plants, birds, mammals, insects, butterflies, fish, trees, grasses, etc. You name it, they’ve got a book on the subject.

Until I found my copy, it never occurred to me they had one on mushrooms! Yay! <grin>


Do NOT eat any wild mushroom unless you can POSITIVELY identify it. 

Most edible wild mushrooms have a poisonous counterpart that can be easily confused.  If you are not sure, do not put it in your mouth. 

Some may only make you ill, but one bite of others means death.

That being said, it’s not going to stop me from learning as much about wild edible mushrooms as possible. There are a few very safe wild mushrooms that are distinctive and have no dangerous cousins.

  • Puffballs – always slice in half puffballs to make sure they are not the ‘button stage’ of development of a toxic mushroom.
  • Morels - these look rather like an elongated sponge on a stem. 

One of the nice things about these books is that they are standardized. They have hundreds of color photos in the front, followed by detailed information in the back. Primarily addressing collectors and hobbyists, the index has a little circle next to each variety of plant where you can make a check mark to indicate the ones you’ve found.

Each page of color prints has a little thumb tab icon to help you find the picture of the plant you see.

 The description section gives the following information:

  • Scientific and common name with page number of color plate
  • Detailed description, including color, size in inches in centimeters, etc
  • Edibility: edible, choice, poisonous
  • Season (for harvesting)
  • Range (part of the continent where they are found)
  • Look-alikes (similar and may be confused with…)
  • Comments

The front of the book has detailed drawings showing various mushroom classifications and how to tell them apart.

 Plus, there is a wealth of other information about mushrooms that can be so helpful for the forager.

 This book will go into my foraging kit.

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