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6 Sources of advice and information


One of the most common areas where technical advice is sought is in identifying specimens and obtaining a scientific name. There are mycologists in all major countries, both developed and developing, though their experience of macrofungi may be limited to particular groups. Many mycologists work with microfungi and in other applied areas such as plant pathology.

Experts on edible fungi are likely to be most knowledgeable about the cultivated species. Wild edible fungi have not been the focus of concerted research until the last ten or twenty years and professional expertise is subject to the vagaries of short-term funding, particularly when it comes to the study of subsistence uses. Individual researchers maintain a close professional interest in wild edible fungi, though this is often broad-based and not specialized in the identification of species.

There are, however, various professional groups with a shared interest in edible fungi which meet on a regular basis. Individual members are dispersed around the world. The best known example is the Edible Ectomycorrhizal Group, which can be contacted via a Web site listed in Table 28.

There are a number of institutes based in Europe and North America which have an international outreach and these are listed below. The major herbaria where reference collections of macrofungi are stored are based in developed countries, although efforts are being made to establish collections elsewhere. Mycological expertise in identifying specimens is available in major countries such as Mexico and China. It is not always clear which institute or individual might be able to assist with identifications and the best general advice is to look via general Web sites or Internet search engines.

On the wider issues of NWFP, ethnoscience, participatory approaches to development and other disciplines relevant to the use of wild edible fungi, FAO is a good starting point for assistance.

Mycological societies exist in many different countries and are a useful starting point for enquiries (see Table 28 for details of Web sites).


There are many field guides to macrofungi, which include information on edible and poisonous species. They are intended for naturalists and people who go collecting for the occasional mushroom to eat. Detailed field guides contain scientific descriptions of species, expressed in a concise and unambiguous language that is often difficult for the non-specialist to understand. Shorter pocketbooks are available which rely more on photographs and have only short written descriptions of species. Both types of guide are useful for identifying species but they are mostly written for audiences in developed countries and have, therefore, a limited use in developing countries.

There are few books that address the topic of wild edible fungi specifically from a people perspective and most of the relevant information is scattered across a wide range of disciplines (see Table 2 for more information). The best general introduction on wild edible fungi, including helpful details about uses, is a book first published in New Zealand (Hall et al., 1998a). A new edition was published in 2003 (Hall et al., 2003). A dictionary of edible fungi contains lists of species from several developed and developing countries and local names. It is a useful but not essential reference (Chandra, 1989).


Sources of technical advice and information on wild edible fungi




CABI Bioscience

Bakeham LaneEghamSurrey TW20 9TYUnited Kingdom

Incorporates the International Mycological Institute; herbarium; publications; reference library; taxonomic expertise; broad development experience; databases and Index Fungorum.;

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The HerbariumSurrey TW9 3ABUnited Kingdom

Herbarium; taxonomic expertise in macrofungi; centre for Economic Botany (including edible fungi); reference library.

National Museum Belgium

Domein van BouchotB-1860 MeiseBelgium

Taxonomic expertise; wild edible fungi; herbarium, international links; publications.

Crop and Food Research Institute

PB 470ChristchurchNew Zealand

Technology development. Growing truffles and other wild edible fungi in “managed” conditions.


Field guides and Web sites for identifying macrofungi and edible varieties




Gamundí and Horak, 1995: macrofungi, pocketbook with colour photos. In Spanish.


De Kesel, Codjia and Yorou., 2002: selected photographs, species descriptions. In French.


Iordanov, Vanev and Fakirova, 1978: edible and poisonous species, in Bulgarian. Drawings.


Buyck, 1994b: annotated guide to edible species In French. Photographs.


The most cinorehensive and best illustrated guide is Mao, 2000, a stunning compendium of field mycology with extensive colour photographs. Ying et al., 1988: edible species, in Chinese [not seen]. Mao, 1998: Edible species, in Chinese. Ying et al., 1987: medicinal species, in Chinese [not seen]. : has photographs of major economic species.


Franco-Molano, Aldana-Gomez and Halling, 2000: guide to macrofungi, photographs.

Costa Rica

Two excellent guides with good colour photographs and Spanish and English text are available (Mata, 2003; Halling and Mueller, 2003).


Purkayastha and Chandra, 1985: useful summary of edible species, nutrition data. No photographs or drawings.


Wasser, 1995: edible and poisonous species, in Russian and Hebrew [not seen].


Testi, 1999 is a popular guide, one of many published. Edible fungi from Basilicate are described in Tagliavini and Tagliavini, 2001. Both guides have photographs and are in Italian.


Imazeki et al., 1988: fungi of Japan, in Japanese but species names in English and many fine photos.

Korea (Republic of)

Park and Lee, 1999: guide to Korean mushrooms. Not seen – in Korean.


El’chibaev, 1964: edible mushrooms, drawings, in Russian.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic mostly photographs, limited text.

Malawi edible species, with photographs, reports and database of local names. Morris, 1987: edible species. Drawings.

Mexico edible, poisonous and medicinal species, in Spanish. Text and photographs.

Poland : brief guide to commercial species, with photographs, in Polish and English.

Russian Federation (far east)

Vasil’eva, 1978: edible, poisonous and medicinal species, in Russian, seen only in translation. There are many popular guides to field mushrooms, and the following is a useful and readily available example. It is in Russian and has drawings: Sergeeva, 2000. .

Southern Africa

Ryvarden, Piearce and Masuka., 1994: describes macrofungi in general, including edible species. Photographs. van -der -Westhuizen and Eicker, 1994: general guide to macrofungi, photographs and species descriptions of most relevance to South Africa.


Rodriguez et al. (1999) macrofungi with notes on edibility, colour photos, in Spanish.

Tanzania (United Republic of)

Härkönen, Niemelä and Mwasumbi, 2003.

Tibet Autonomous Region,China

Mao and Jiang, 1992: Economic macrofungi, in Chinese [not seen].

Turkey   edible species, in English. Photographs and short text.


Katende, Segawa and Birnie, 1999: limited range of edible species, drawings.


Zerova and Rozhenko, 1988: edible and poisonous species, in Russian. Drawings. Wasser, 1990: guide to edible and poisonous species of Carpathians.

United Kingdom

Phillips et al., 1983: edible and poisonous species, excellent photographs.

United States

Arora, 1986: popular guide to all macrofungi with many photographs. : edible species, photographs, descriptions. Molina et al., 1993: major edible species in Pacific northwest, photographs.


General Web sites on wild edible fungi and related topics



Virtual Library on Mycology. Main portal for information on fungi, including useful species. Good starting point for general enquiries.

One of the most useful of many “commercial” sites investigated. Access is free once you have registered. Has reports on mushroom production (cultivated) and has a good global coverage.

International Directory of Mycorrhizologists. Links to sites on edible ectomycorrhizal mushrooms, lists scientists and has many other useful background information. Good general reference point.

Essential reference tool. Check species names of all fungi, including macrofungi, and also the correct authorities.

Multilingual guide to fungus names, including Chinese. Does not have a special emphasis on wild fungi.

Wild useful fungi of Malawi with a searchable database of local names and scientific equivalents. Project reports can be downloaded; photographs of many species are available.

Economic fungi of China. Many photographs; wayward spellings of scientific names.

Excellent site (in Spanish) giving details of major wild edible fungi from Mexico, including full descriptions and photos.

Edible fungi of Poland (some text in English).

General information on edible and poisonous species of Australia.

Contains useful trade data from 1993– 97 for “mushroom” exports to selected countries and specifically for matsutake exports to Japan.

Fungi Perfecti, a commercial company specializing in the cultivation of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. Good general information and many links.

Edible mycorrhizal mushrooms. Two international conferences have been held and the site gives information on talks and other matters of general relevance to WEF.

The journal of wild mushrooming, published in the United States with articles available online. Presents a very practical approach and analysis of mushroom collecting and although slanted towards the amateur in the United States, it explores universal issues (regulation of collectors) of broader relevance.

Information on commercial harvesting in the Pacific northwest of the United States, including detailed accounts from Winema National Forest.


Country guides

Most field guides are based on species found in temperate regions. There is a plethora of such guides from the United States while countries in western Europe are also well served. Key examples are listed in Table 27 but the emphasis is on less well known books from developing countries. Most are out of print and only available from specialist libraries. Guides published in the United States (e.g. Arora, 1986) and Europe (e.g. Phillips et al., 1983) can still be purchased or readily consulted in libraries.


Many edible fungi also have medicinal properties. The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms began publication in 1999 and contains review articles as well as original contributions. For a general overview see Hobbs (1995).

All guides to macrofungi include descriptions of poisonous species. There is a colour atlas devoted to poisonous species though the examples are of species found in developed countries, some of which will also occur in developing countries (Bresinsky and Besl, 1990).


The Internet is a useful source of information but the quality and accuracy of this information can be difficult to assess. Type the word “mushroom” or “edible fungus” into a search engine such as Google ( ) and a barrage of Web addresses will appear. The sites listed in Table 28 are a starting point for investigations and notes have been provided to indicate how useful they were during the preparation of this book. Most sites listed in Table 28 emphasize fungi first and uses by people second – if at all.

Table 28 is only a selection of available Web sites that include wild edible fungi. For more detailed searches of reliably published information there is no substitute for thorough literature reviews of journals and other professionally published sources. Table 28 includes examples of country-specific Web sites, and attention is drawn to the excellent information available for Mexico.

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