Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World
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Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

4.44 of 5 stars 4.44  ·  rating details  ·  821 ratings  ·  101 reviews
Mycelium Running is a manual for the mycological rescue of the planet. That’s right: growing more mushrooms may be the best thing we can do to save the environment, and in this groundbreaking text from mushroom expert Paul Stamets, you’ll find out how.

The basic science goes like this: Microscopic cells called “mycelium”--the fruit of which are mushrooms--recycle carbon, ni...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Ten Speed Press (first published 2005)
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Here's (one of) my problem(s) with Stamets and his book: I just think it's frikin' heartless. He immediately goes into a convincing argument that mycelia (the underground structure of mushrooms) are sentient: they know that you're walking on them, they communicate, and so on. And then he dives straight into a discourse on how someday, we'll be able to harness these abilities for our own purposes, and use fungi as our communications devices. Yuck. It makes my heart hurt, and I can never make it m...more
I was fairly disappointed in this book, given the amount of hype that surrounds it in some circles. A couple specific gripes: muddling hypothesis and proven facts/theories, making huge, sweeping statements without footnotes or references - ie, this mushroom might cure cancer... sure, it might , so might dancing the tango, but how likely is it - when there are references, they are to the author's own work or to incredibly small science-fair-esque experiments. Further, I was put off by the whoo...more
Mo Tipton
This book is excellent. Stamets covers everything from mycofiltration with tips on using mycelial mats for water treatment on a home-scale level to gardening with fungi, including tips on which fungal species to use with different garden plants for maximum results. Gourmet and medicinal uses of fungi, mycoforestry, mycopesticides, and mycoremediation of ecosystems damaged by chemical and heavy metal contaminants are also covered. I will definitely grab a second hand copy of this for use on my fu...more
Andrea Marley
Wow, I got my mind grapes blown on this one. I remember hearing about this book on NPR.

Mushrooms are the link between plants and animals. (!!!!!!!!!) They have existed for eons, for billions of years. Throughout cosmic wind storms, when 90% of the life on the planet was decimated, throughout dinosaur evolution and extinction, and now up to this teeny tiny period of time humans have been around.

Mushrooms are in many ways the earths largest organism. They can spread a network of communicating spo...more
This book is crazy. Just to get that out there. But nature is kind of crazy, and mushrooms are absolutely bonkers wacko nutty. I am continually awed by the diversity and difference of fungus--it is so very not mammalian.

The author has a theory about saving the world using mushrooms, and he pushes the point to be dramatic, but there certainly is a lot of unlocked potential. Mushrooms can filter water, remove pollutants, kill parasites, etc. They can also be parasitic, but the author's point is th...more
Jun 22, 2008 Justin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The human race, but specifically poeple interested in habitat restoration
Basically, Dr. Stamets and his work is having profound effects in the way i look at the world and our ability to prevent ecological disaster. From watching his TED conference talk ( to reading this book and then spending a weekend within the old growth forest on the clackamas river my brain has been stewing with possibility and opportunity.
Not only will you never see fungi the same way, but for the frst time in a long time i am positive about the human race's chances for contin...more
Jan 02, 2008 Walker rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This book, written for the lay person, describes in an interesting and fun way how fungi might just save the world. Topics include using fungi to clean oil spills and toxic waste, fungi as organic pesticides in agriculture or for termite control, medicinal properties of fungus, and much more. After reading this book, i believe that studying and working with fungi will yield many significant technological and cultural advances for decades, if not centuries to come. Understanding fungus will help...more
Mike Mcconnell
Amongst the many insights in this book one of the most interesting was a passage where Stamets discussed the number of anti biotics and anti vitals that originated with different kinds of mycelium and goes on to posit that given the mycellial biodiversity there's probably an antiviral there for every virus we encounter.
This book is so exciting and inspiring! Stamets is not kidding - mushrooms really do have an important place in restoring a lot of damage we have done to the earth, and in keeping us alive and healthy on it! I love the instructions for starting your own outdoor mushroom patches, and the different ways his research into fungi has taken him. Did you know the largest living organism on earth is a fungus? That the pesticide industry is unnecessary? That saving the Northwest's old-growth forests is a...more
Paul Stamets is kinda like a mycological Paul Farmer. He's that cool. If you are a mushroom forager, you may already have heard some things about him. If you are a gardener, you will be intrigued by the things he has to say about no-till and sustainable agriculture. I think this book is sheer genius. I guess I gave it only four stars because I think that there are some commercial tie ins which I am unsure as to how I feel about. How was that for a prepositional cluster?
This was fantastic!

I'd previously read another book by Stamets but found that a lot of the techniques required access to a lab and were directed at the commercial grower. This was filled with DIY techniques suitable for interested beginners.

He introduces the importance of the mushroom in the forest ecosystem before giving a wide range of practical examples showing how they can be used for mycoremediation.

His passion for the subject is clear.

This is a must read for anyone with an interest in natu...more
Jim Davis
terrific how to save the world with mycological techniques.
brilliant, prescient and timely.
so many good ideas for integrating the fungal kingdom into gardens and increasing soil health.
Julie O'toole
Oddly, this is one of the best books I've ever read
Loree Burns
About a month ago, I picked a book that had been sitting on my desk for more than a year, MYCELIUM RUNNING, and finally started reading. Within days, the Deepwater Horizon exploded and oil from below the Earth’s crust began pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. Serendipitous, that, because while my mind has since grappled with the enormity of the disaster in the Gulf—massive amounts of oil and massive amounts of dispersants pouring and shooting into our oceans—I have been saved from complete despair...more
I borrowed this book in kindle format from my local library because the price to purchase the kindle version seemed rather high to me ($24+ at Amazon). However, after reading it, I could recommend paying a higher price for the book, especially if you are interested in growing or gathering mushrooms.

I was looking for a general introduction to mushrooms and their myriad uses. This book gave me that and much more. The first part of the book goes into great detail about the amazing uses of mushroom...more
Mar 06, 2009 Kitty added it
I first discovered author Paul Stamets at a lecture he gave in Los Angeles promoting his book How Mushrooms can save the World.

I was leary myself coming from the Pacific Northwest where all is damp and moldy and fungi grow amouk.
I thought if anything mushrooms to be destroyers of not so much the world, but of good health.

I knew that a variety of mushrooms and fungi are advocated for good health , particularly in Asian medicine , but being a person who has always been prone respiratory and joint...more
This is a fabulously exciting book for mycophiles. I had the privilege of seeing Paul Stamets speak at the Fungus Fair in Oakland this year about the history and cultural significance of psychotropic mushrooms fir various peoples. He is funny and humble and highly intelligent.
This book has amazing pictures of unbelievably huge and gorgeous mushrooms mostly from the Pacific Northwest forests.Stamets has researched how mushrooms can help restore and remediate toxic substances polluting natural en...more
Jan 03, 2011 Charles rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: health nuts, gardeners, environmentalists

Mycelium Running is a pretty interesting resource about mushrooms and fungus in general, especially the friendly and edible varieties. Some fungi are harmful to forests and some are very beneficial. Old growth forests would not be possible without beneficial mushrooms that live in symbioses with the other living things.

Many mushrooms have unexpected and potent health benefits, this book contains a table with this information. This book is also full of pictures to help one identify safe vs. unsaf...more
This book was a pleasure to read. I am certainly a layman when it comes to the biology of Mycelium and the Fungi kingdom. Mycelium Running was very kind on my ignorance and conveyed the points and learnings very effectively. I could feel Paul Stamets excitement in the writing and some of that rubbed off especially when describing how easy it is to get started "running with mycelium".

Once again a great introduction to the topic for me with lots of practical advise for getting started on small sca...more
Mar 11, 2014 Elle marked it as to-read
Although I've barely started this book I'm already disappointed in how un-scientific it is. There's no doubt Stamets is an enthusiast and maybe one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to mushrooms, but through his writing he comes off as a bit of a wack-job. It's pretty unprofessional sounding and loaded with unnecessary pictures on every page. I can't imagine a credible scientist being able to take any of his suggestions seriously. They wouldn't even make it past the introduction and...more
Jul 28, 2008 Amy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Forest
Recommended to Amy by: Ryan
The first chapter almost made me quit reading, since the author is clearly a lunatic. However, we were slow enough at work that I was forced to give this another chance and the first half, excepting the intro, is quite fun to read. For anarchists and foresters alike. The second half is an encyclopeadic cookbook for "medicinal mushrooms" also quite skip-able.

The ecology, cultivation, and experiments are great. The photos of the authors hundreds of children and hippy lover are amusing. But what re...more
Wow! I asked for this book for Christmas simply because I'm interested in mushrooms and the Amazon reviews were great, too. It's more than lived up to my expectations and surpassed. I'm now contemplating full scale mushroom cultivation. For numerous reasons! Food, medicine, reducing land toxicity...

I've now read the whole book, and I'm even more impressed. Mushrooms can sop up and breakdown heavy metals, excess manure runoff from animal lots, malaria causing larvae, and on and on. Stupendous. Ca...more
Mary B
I've gone through this book multiple times since it's publication. Every time that I get sick of being a science student, I pick it for inspiration. I'm soon to be pursuing my PhD in mycology; Paul Stamets has a lot to do with that. I think that this book and the general publicity Dr Stamets has generated with this and other works is exactly what the science of mycology needs at this very moment. With so much research to be done, and so little funding available, this work is a boon to all of us...more
Dec 22, 2007 Shaun rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: gardeners
This book has three distinct purposes. One is to provide a readable and clear outline of what mushrooms are, what kinds of mushrooms there are and what makes them tick. Then we get into a lot of possibilities for applications of fungi for everything from soil remediation to nutrition. The largest section of the book, and the part I keep finding myself referencing, is the section outlining techniques for cultivating mushrooms in non-laboratory settings. I'm a big fan of this books, a good beginne...more
Bill Leach
Introductory chapters introducing mushrooms, their life cycle and habitat.

Middle chapters cover mycofiltration, mycoforestry, mycoremediation and mycopesticides.

Final chapters cover cultivation methods and a "cast of species" of some of the more interesting mushrooms.

Great detail, especially on the interaction of fungi and plants.
Surprisingly interesting and fun book about mushrooms. Helping to save the world might be a little overblown. It does cover plenty of beneficial and tasty aspects of mushrooms, plus some numerous areas where there has been some research and potential may be lurking (medical, bioremediation, crop yields, etc). After a couple dreamy and somewhat dubious proclamations in the opening chapters it settles down to facts, published research and empirical projects.
Mycelium Running profoundly changed my thinking. It gave me hope for life after humans. The mushrooms will clean up after us in the end. Mycelium is the white webby network that is most of the fungus. From this the mushroom blooms. It resembles neurons. It changes the chemistry of its habitat. It brings us delicious mushrooms. Paul Stamets makes an intriguing argument for mushroom propagation and inspires a love for the fungus among us.
Kenley Raye
Being that I am extremely interested in becoming a mycologist I found this book absolutely fascinating. I love the comparisons of how mycelium is like the Internet or a humans nervous system with pictures. However it is the Earths nervous system. Mushrooms are key to sustainability. The Earths natural recyclers and nervous system. Mushrooms and the history of mushrooms have so much to offer. And this book has it all. What a great book !!!
First impression, photos are wonderful, intro ordinary. I pass on the mystical side of things but the obligatory glance further into the book looks as though there ideas to look forward too. There is a lot of "if" followed by "then" thinking and then continuing with the assumption of the "then" as being fact. But then I think that much of the studies are very small scale so lack empirical evidence of cause and effect. A good "ideas" book
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Mushrooms 1 17 May 08, 2008 09:26AM  
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Stamets is on the editorial board of The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, and is an advisor to the Program for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School, Tucson, Arizona. He is active in researching the medicinal properties of mushrooms,[2] and is involved in two NIH-funded clinical studies on cancer and HIV treatments using mushrooms as adjunct therapies. Havin...more
More about Paul Stamets...
Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide for Growing Mushrooms at Home Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide Mycomedicinals: An Informational Booklet on Medicinal Mushrooms Truths Among Us: Conversations on Building a New Culture

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“I see the mycelium as the Earth's natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks. Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape.” 9 likes
“I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.” 9 likes
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