Book Review

A Little Illustrated Book of Common Mushrooms of Newfoundland and Labrador

By Andrus Voitk
2007; published by The Gros Morne Cooperating Association
272 pp.; ISBN 978-0-9699509-4-3 (softbound)
$24.95 + 14% HST ($3.49) CAD; Shipping $3.00 in Canada, $5.00 to US
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Here is a surprisingly nice book out of that remote little corner of North American that fondly refers to itself as “The Rock.” Newfoundlanders are proud of the fact that they were first to be settled in the New World and they’re quickly becoming leaders in the world of mushroomology, thanks in large part to the author of this book. (Who, by the way, is also an authority on wild orchids and has previously published a wonderful little field guide to them as well!)

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The annual Foray Newfoundland has become one of the larger and better organized of the numerous forays that occur from coast to coast each year. I was lucky enough to attend last year; you can read a report on that foray elsewhere in this issue of FUNGI. This guidebook arrived, literally hot off the presses, just in time for attendees to reap its benefit. I quickly realized that this book would be suitable for any mushroomer hitting the woods in the northern half of North America. And in many ways it’s superior to what’s already being used for many regions and I’ll tell you why.

First off, Common Mushrooms of Newfoundland provides very current information (e.g. it’s the only book I know of that cautions against picking Pleurocybella cybella [“Angel’s wings] and cites a recent spate of poisonings in Japan). Many species of mushrooms that occur across much of North America, and which you won’t find mention of other guidebooks, are given their due here, including the spectacular Catathelasma ventricosa. And Amanita wellsii…what a stunner! The book, while just the right size to fit in your back pocket, is packed with beautiful high resolution photos.

Does the genus Cortinarius leave you scratching your head? You’re not alone. Corts abound in Newfoundland and Common Mushrooms of Newfoundland does a great job of breaking them down for the beginner. Also abounding in Newfoundland are species of lichenized mushrooms. Andrus is a big fan of these often overlooked little gems; his book gives them their due with fantastic pictures and descriptions.

The book is not laid out like most other guidebooks out there, which give a formulaic breakdown of the mushroom: description of morphology, spore size and color, habitat, and a list of other factoids. This took a minute or two to get used to, but I soon came to enjoy reading beyond the description of the mushroom I was holding at arm’s length, trying to identify.

While the book is easily worth the cost simply for its photographs and concise descriptions of mushrooms, it’s a must have for the warm and folksy humour (note spelling!), characteristic of the author. I highly recommend this book to all mycophiles.

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi