MykoWeb Mushroom Blog

Web Watch: MykoWeb

Posted on 20 June 2009 by Michael Wood

In this installment of “Web Watch” I am covering MykoWeb. First of all, a disclaimer is needed: since MykoWeb is my site, I cannot promise you a totally objective review!

MykoWeb was one of the first mushroom sites on the World Wide Web. Started on 27 September 1995, it has just celebrated its first birthday as a teenager! Since inception, MykoWeb has grown into what is probably the world’s largest and most informative mycological web site. With over 1400 pages and over 6000 photographs, the information presented is extensive.

Since MykoWeb is a large and complex site, we won’t be able to cover all of its attractions in this review, but all of the major sections should get a mention. Everyone interested in mushrooms, fungi, or mycology, whether a beginner, advanced amateur, or professional should find something of interest at MykoWeb.

The largest section of MykoWeb is “The Fungi of California”. This section is different from the rest of MykoWeb, since it has two principle developers, Michael Wood and Fred Stevens. The goal of “The Fungi of California” is to document all of the macro fungi found in the state of California with both descriptions and photographs. With habitats that include coastal rain forests, high mountain forests, scrub oak lands, deserts, grasslands, farmlands, landscaped urban areas, and many more, California has a large diversity of fungi and documenting this diversity in one lifetime is a goal that is undoubtedly unobtainable.

But an impressive start has been made.  At the time of this writing “The Fungi of California” has covered 554 species, with written descriptions of 445 of these species. The 554 species are currently illustrated with 3707 photographs. Most species also include principle references (citations of technical descriptions, including protologues) and links to other information and/or photographs about the species elsewhere on the Web.

MykoWeb has also reprinted all of four out-of-print books on-line: a cookbook and three major mushroom monographs. Wild About Mushrooms: the Cookbook of the Mycological Society of San Francisco by Louise Freedman was originally published in 1987, but like many good books, went out-of-print too soon. This wonderful mushroom cookbook was reprinted on MykoWeb in 2000.  You will find lots of recipes, cooking tips, and other information on edible mushrooms.

The first book reprinted by MykoWeb was Dr. Harry Thiers’ California Mushrooms—A Field Guide to the Boletes. The online name was changed to “The Boletes of California” to clarify what was covered and to be more in line with what Dr. Thiers wanted to title the book. Included are keys and descriptions of the 85 species of boletes (Boletus, Leccinum, Suillus, etc.) known in California when the book was originally published in 1975.

Recently, MykoWeb has added two major monographs by Dr. Alexander Smith and Dr. L. R. Hesler: The North American Species of Pholiota and the North American Species of Crepidotus. The Pholiota book covers 216 taxa and the Crepidotus book covers 139 taxa. Included are all the illustrations and photographs from the original books. You can expect to see more monographs reprinted at MykoWeb in the future.

MykoWeb has many articles and book reviews by a number of good authors. The most significant of these is “The Toxic Fungi of Western North America” by Dr. Tom Duffy. This book-length (over 45,000 words) ‘article’ gives a great introduction to the Western toxic mushrooms and their toxins and includes valuable sections on diagnosis and treatment of mushroom poisoning.

What do you want to know about mycology? You may find it at MykoWeb with recipes, mycorrhizae, taxonomy, cultivation, microscopy, and photography among the many subjects included in the “Articles” section. There are also a plethora of book reviews by Steve Trudell and others that cover a wide range of books, from children’s books and field guides, all the way to books on the most technical of mycological subjects.

The “Systematics” (taxonomy and nomenclature) section of MykoWeb is designed to give the more experienced amateur mushroomers resources to go “beyond the field guide” in identifying mushrooms. The first page here is a list of annotated on-line references…the most important being “Index Fungorum”, an essential database of all fungal names ever published. The real meat of the “Systematics” section is the “Fungal Descriptions and Keys On-Line” page which includes annotated links to about 150 sites with good descriptions and/or keys to various groups of fungi. Here you are bound to find useful information on a group of fungi of interest to you. A recent addition presents PDF files of lots of old, out-of-print, but still important mycological literature. For example you can download PDFs of all 15 segments of E. A. Burt’s classic “Thelephoraceae of North America”. Much more old literature will be added in the future. Lastly in the “Systematics” section there is a page of miscellaneous links to mycology labs, sites with good photographs, and more.

It would take weeks to explore all of MykoWeb, here we have just given a brief introduction to the highlights. There is a lot more…information and photos from the MycoBlitzes at Point Reyes National Seashore, photographs of fungi from outside of California, illustrations and excerpts from old mushroom books, mushroom watercolors, and lots of mushroom trivia. Whatever your interest, if it revolves around mushrooms and other fungi, you will find something of interest at MykoWeb!

(Originally published in Fungi Magazine: Vol. 1, No. 4; Winter 2008.)

7 Responses to “Web Watch: MykoWeb”

  1. Eric G says:

    Congratulations, Mr Wood, on such a compendium of accumulated mushroomy knowledge!

    MykoWeb has been the foundation stone of my introduction to the world of fungi. In my first season of mushroom ‘hunting’, I learned that the basic fungal terminology and sytematics was not quite the overwhelming barrier I had feared, and I enjoyed my first ‘triumphs’ of ID in the field.

    Most importantly, I think, MykoWeb gave me the inspiration and confidence that I could expect to identify a couple dozen local species with fair to reasonable certainty, and without becoming immediately and hopelessly befuddled by the process. Moreso, I enjoy my new mushroom ‘discoveries’ with unqualified delight. That is a joy adding immeasurably to my hikes in the local hills and woodlands. And the enjoyment and insight thus provided takes me one step closer to comprehending William Blake’s immortal words about seeing a world in a grain of sand.

    Thank you very much for your efforts.
    Eric

  2. Kristopher says:

    I just found your site while I was trying… thuis far in vain, to find out what kind of mushrooms I found in my yard this morning. Just wanted to say that I love the page, very easy to navigate, and GREAT photos!

    If you would like to help too, here’s a link to some photos of the ones I have in my yard…. Mostly just trying to find out whether I have to worry about my dogs around them. http://bewilderingbugaboos.blogspot.com/

    Thanks! Kris

  3. Michael Wood says:

    Hi Kristopher:

    You mystery mushroom is some kind of stinkhorn (Phallaceae). I can’t tell the species from the pictures, it is likely one I have not seen before (it always helps to know where a mushroom was photographed. None of the stinkhorns are known to be poisonous, but they sure can smell bad!

  4. Michael Wood says:

    Hi Eric:

    Thank you for your kind words regarding MykoWeb. I hope the site continues to be of value to you!

    Mushrooming is a great hobby…you get fresh air, exercise, intellectual satisfaction, and occasionally even some food for the table. What more can you ask for?

  5. Nos Allen says:

    Hello Mykoweb admins and users, I’m nos and I’ve been using Mykoweb for a few years, mostly just browsing galleries of fungi. Now older, I wish to grow my own button and bolete mushrooms. I live in Sacramento and now wish to delve into this field of DIY ingredient gathering. The main problem being I am 14 and can only get a ride as far as family wants to drive. Anybody know of folks that frequently sell spawn in south Sacramento? If you do please contact my E-mail (nosphaer@yahoo.com) thanks everyone for your help.

  6. yvette says:

    I have mushrooms growing in my bathroom. My bathroom ceiling was flooded a week ago, by an upstair neighbor and now there are mushrooms growing in my bathroom ceiling . The mushroom is dark brown with the top like a bullet point, and the stem is white. Please tell me what type of mushroon this is and is it dangerous. I have several small children in my home. And how do i remove it.

  7. Mary Krimmel says:

    We’ve had generous rain during the last two weeks or so. Small (about 3/4″ to 1-1/2″) white smooth round-topped, short-stemmed (practically stemless), scattered mushrooms have come up on the weedy lawn several times. We are at about 500′ elevation on the southeast side of Mt. Soledad. Can anyone tell me whether they’re edible? If so, I’ll try them carefully. Thank you for any help.

    This looks like a wonderful and surely ambitious site. I am too naive about fungi to use it well. Also my mushrooms may be considered too small for practical edibility.

    Mary Krimmel, La Jolla, CA

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