MykoWeb Mushroom Blog

Web Watch: Useful References, Descriptions, & Keys

Posted on 09 November 2009 by Michael Wood

In this issue of WebWatch we will explore some useful references regarding the identification and classification of mushrooms and other fungi.  These are aimed at the amateur mycologist interested in progressing beyond the field guide level in their pursuit of mushroom identification and understanding of mushroom taxonomy and nomenclature.


Index Fungorum (  This is a very important world database of fungal names and synonyms. You can search for a name or species epithet. For example, if you are interested in finding all the taxa ever published as “Boletus”, a genus search returns 2374 taxa that have been described as Boletus. Some of these are synonyms or species that would not now be considered a Boletus. Searching on Boletus edulis shows you over 50 named varieties, forma, and subspecies of B. edulis, but not yet the recently described Boletus edulis var. grandedulis (which is our local variety here on the west coast). The names returned on any search have the author citation, year published and family. Most also include the literature citation, a very useful function of Index Fungorum.

Classification from the Dictionary of the Fungi ( If you don’t want to spend the $125 to purchase the new 10th edition of the Dictionary of the Fungi, you can find the classification information here. There are two ways to use this:

  1. Click on ‘view kingdoms’ and drill down (e.g. Kingdom Fungi : Phylum Basidiomycota :  Class Agaricomycetes :  Subclass Agaricomycetidae :  Order Agaricales : Family Mycenaceae : Genus Mycena). I bet you didn’t know that Dictyopanus, Flavolaschia, Filoboletus, Panellus (among many others) are now all considered to be in the family Mycenaceae, along with Mycena!
  2. Type in a genus name and click ‘search for genus’. This will give you the author, year published, citation, plus the hierarchical classification.

International Code of Botanical Nomenclature ( The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature is the “rulebook” that governs the naming of all plants and fungi. The latest ICBN is the “Vienna” code from 2005.

Fungi of Australia Glossary (  A very good fungal glossary, the best I have found on the web. It could be improved with the addition of illustrations for many of the terms (e.g. an illustration would make terms like “lageniform” much faster to comprehend). The best glossary I know for fungal shapes, etc. is Else Vellinga’s glossary from the first volume of Flora Agaricina Neerlandica, but alas, not available online.

Descriptions and Keys

Pacific Northwest Key Council (  If you live on the west coast of the US, especially the Pacific Northwest, these keys will be invaluable.  Over 75 genera or groups are included with online keys, plus you can download the keys as either MS-Word or RTF files.  Some of the species keyed are illustrated with photographs.

The Fungi of California (  Descriptions of over 470 species of California fungi, with over 570 species illustrated by almost 4000 photographs. Included are links to other descriptions and photos on the web for the species covered.

Russulales News (  With contributions from such world experts in the Russuales as Bart Buyck and Annemieke Verbeken, this site has to be good! It is intended to eventually include the original Latin diagnosis, a description, and photographs or illustrations (macroscopic and microscopic) of all the species in the Russulales. Currently 379 species of Russula, Lactarius, and Multifurca are illustrated with color photographs.

Studies in Coprinus (  Keys, descriptions, illustrations of the micro features, and photographs of over 140 species of Coprinus s.l. by Kees Uljé. This is a very useful site that has been superseded by Uljé’s treatment of Coprinus s.l. in volume 6 of Flora Agaricina Neerlandica (but that is not on the web!).

Amanita Studies ( Rod Tulloss’ Amanita pages include over 500 world-wide species of Amanita, divided into 7 sections. Most species have at least brief species description, many also have a technical description and/or photographs. This is a very valuable website, but is very hard to navigate. The site desperately needs a logical re-organization and an index to all the species.

Mycena Page ( These pages by Arne Aronsen include a key to over 100 species of Mycena found in Norway, complete with excellent descriptions and photographs. A very useful site, especially so since the majority of these species also occur in North America.

A revision of Collybia s.l. in the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada ( This is a revised online version of the out-of-print Collybia monograph by Roy Halling originally published by the New York Botanical Garden in 1983. The revisions include segregating Collybia (sensu 1980’s) into its modern genera (Collybia s.s., Gymnopus, & Rhodocollybia). Included are keys, descriptions, photographs, and illustrations of the microscopic features. Unfortunately the introductory sections from the book dealing with history, nomenclature, taxonomic features, and materials and methods are not included here.

The North American Species of Pholiota ( Here you will find the complete contents of the Smith and Hesler monograph from 1968—”The North American Species of Pholiota. New York, NY: Hafner Publishing Company (492 p. + 90 pl.).” In addition to the online material, a PDF of the entire publication is available for download.

North American Species of Crepidotus (  Here you will find the complete contents of Hesler and Smith monograph from 1965—”North American Species of Crepidotus. New York, NY: Hafner Publishing Company (168 p. + 18 pl.).” In addition to the online material, a PDF of the entire publication is available for download.

Home of the Xylariaceae ( Fourteen to the 40 genera of the Xylariaceae are treated here. There is a synoptic key to the genera, plus information on the ecology, evolution, and taxonomy of the genera treated. You will also find descriptions (and sometimes photographs) of the species in these genera.


We have covered some of the sites with the best information, but there are many more to explore. I maintain a list of websites with this type of information on the Systematics pages at MykoWeb ( If you find a good website that is missing from the listings at MykoWeb, please let me know so I can add it!

One Response to “Web Watch: Useful References, Descriptions, & Keys”

  1. A very good and usefull compilation about fungi.
    I know several sites, which could also be interesting:

    The Genus Fusarium – a Pictorial Atlas (the image quality is quite low)
    However an important publication about Fusarium

    Cyberliber, an Electronic Library for Mycology

    Studies in Mycology
    If you go to the newer volumes, you have access to free pdf-files too.



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