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Mushrooms Demystified

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  904 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Simply the best and most complete mushroom field guide and reference book, MUSHROOMS DEMYSTIFIED includes descriptions and keys to more than 2,000 species of mushrooms, with more than 950 photographs. Mushroom authority David Arora provides a beginner's checklist of the 70 most distinctive and common mushrooms, plus detailed chapters on terminology, classification, ...more
Paperback, 1056 pages
Published October 1st 1986 by Ten Speed Press (first published 1979)
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Nov 15, 2015 marked it as to-read

Maybe Arora doesn't know about these Portuguese ones, I've been photographing.
(You may click on any of the photographs)

Ain't they pretty?
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most amazing biological guides ever. In addition to being an almost comprehensive guide to most macroscopic fungi of the western US, it is also weird, hilarious, and just plain wacky. Pretty much every time I grab it to look something up, I come across some new gem from Arora. Here's one I just found:

Since so few bracket fungi are edible, they are ignored by most people and barely mentioned in many popular mushroom books. As I am also ignored by most people (and have yet to be
Jun 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fungiphiles
I will actually be "currently reading" this book for the rest of my life - at least during those months that the mushrooms are out.

The most extraordinary thing about it is that it's actually fun to read -- no small feat for what's fundamentally a guidebook. Arora leads you to approach the overwhelming task of figuring out the wild mushroom in your hand like a mystery, and like many mysteries you end up chasing down dead ends, eliminating suspects, and enjoying every minute of it.

It seems that
Nov 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of the great reference books of our times! I have so often leafed through this book for the simple sheer pleasure of it, that I have found myself in the forest identifying wild mushrooms that I didn't realize I knew anything about. I can think of no higher praise.
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A most magickal and foule tome
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: foraging, favorites
Invaluable. I have learned so much from this book.
Okay, I didn't technically read the whole thing straight through, but I did read all of the sections aside from the identifications straight through. This is as good as it gets in a single source for mushroom identification. And, it's an easy read — the author's a bit whacky in a good way — which really helps, because latin naming conventions make my mind fog over if there's not something lighter to break it up. If you've never used a Dichotomous
Scott Cox
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is probably not a book you would sit down and read cover-to-cover. However it is the mycology "Bible" for those interested in gleaning mushrooms from forests & field. Arora's occasional humor, and cute pictures are worth the price of the book alone (see plate 217, "too many mushrooms - overindulgence")
James Mize
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Authoritative and comprehensive, often witty, but altogether somewhat dense. While this mushroom hunters' bible is indispensable, it could benefit from more pictures.
Chris Keefe
Oct 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in mushroom hunting.
Shelves: resources
Brilliant. The best of the best. Detailed, comprehensive, easy to use, and hilarious.

I would never have expected as much from a field guide.
C.M. Ryer
The go-to guide for the mushroom lover. Glorious pictures and well written descriptions make this book a joy to have on hand!
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderful descriptions and a lot of fun, only marred by the lack of color photos. Essential, but pair it with a color field guide.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Arora makes this enormous reference book an enjoyable read.
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent, excellent book for mushroomers of all levels of experience, but most of all for beginning hunters. For one thing, Arora's writing style is immediately winning and thoroughly engaging, and this style is fully borne out among the included images. It reinforces the fun of mushroom hunting and also gives a glimpse into that fascinating subculture.

Secondly, and more importantly, Arora's book does what other guides may not, which is that he immediately teaches the best
Shane Simmons
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best references for North American mushrooms available. It is considered by many to be the "Bible" of mushroom field guides.

Arora is a good author, and there's plenty of humor here and there, in this book. He makes an otherwise tedious affair interesting.

This isn't for casual reading however; it's about 2" thick and has entries on over 2000 species of fungi.

My only real complaint is that most of the photos are in black and white. A full color, updated edition of this book is something
Jul 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
I have not actually read through this hefty tome, but I have perused used it and deem it a favorable fact that I and fellow consumers of found fungi are still intact, and much the happier for our mushroom meal, many thanks to Arora. Great photos, fun to read. I do disagree with him about his rankings of the tastiness/desirability of some fungi. He underestimates, in my opinion. But his is an American perspective.
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Everything you ever wanted to know about mushrooms and then some. This is a doorstop of a mushroom guide for anyone interested in learning about hunting and identifying. Photos are black and white, with a section of colour plates in the middle of the book. Gives very detailed information about habitat, edibility, spore prints, fruiting bodies, etc. There are also several scientific keys included in the book to help you identify each mushroom species properly.
Dec 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hippies, weird cooks
A lot of good information but just because he says one or another mushroom tastes good doesn't mean he's right. Giant puffballs taste like funky, chemical marshmallows - they are not "eminently edible."

But if you like campy fungophile in-jokes: "better kicked than picked," etc., this is your book.

If you're not interested in wild mushrooms, probably not for you. But who knows?
Matt Asher
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Clearly a classic and the bible of mushroom identification, though expect a big learning curve when it comes to working through the "choose your own adventure" style method of identifying your bounty.
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Incredible resource. After almost 1000 pages I'm still more than a bit mystified, but I've started bringing fungi home and trying to work through identifications. I'm sure years of mycological fun await!
Oct 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is super great for learning but it's also fun to read. He thanked his wife saying "...she did not provide countless house or selfless assistance without which this book would have not been possible."
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: botany, reference
Highly comprehensive reference text for all fungivores. Well outlined and information is easy to find. However, not the most portable volume--I suggest "All the Rain Brings and More," its pocket-sized field guide companion.
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research
I don't think that I will finish this book before the next eddition is published (soon), but it is an essential and easy to use reference.
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mushrooms-fungi
This is my most used reference book ever... I got it in college for a class called Mushrooms, history and culture in 2000 and it has seen much use since.

Cheryl Devine
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Best book out there for mushrooming(with its smaller companion All the rain promises and more)
Gail P
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
Actually, I will be reading this for a long long time.

It is the "Opus Maximus" of Wild Mushrooms.
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Course book for Teresa Sholar's mushroom identification class.
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I love this book. Yes it's a good key to identifying fungi, but it's also super entertaining.
Christopher Hutson
May 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: intrepid mycophagists
Shelves: mushrooms, science
Perhaps the best field guide for the educated North American amateur. If only it were biased towards the midwest rather than the west coast...
Oct 05, 2008 rated it did not like it
Do not use this manual... very INCONCLUSIVE and VAGUE. Danger danger danger :(
Ritch Avery
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In my fungi identification guide, we affectionately called this the "crazy mushroom guy."
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David Arora (born October 23, 1952) is an American mycologist, naturalist, and writer. He is the author of two popular books on mushroom identification, Mushrooms Demystified and All That the Rain Promises and More....

Arora first developed an interest in wild mushrooms while growing up in Pasadena, California and organized his first mushroom collecting group while in high school. He began teaching