Book Review

Die Pilzflora des Ulmer Raumes (The Fungus Flora of the Ulm Area)

By Manfred Enderle
ISBN 3-88294-336-X; 2004

This is a difficult book to categorize. At first glance, it seems to be a field guide, but it isn’t. As the title suggests, the main text consists of a listing of the fungi that have been recorded from the “Ulm area” of southern Germany, and is augmented with extensive introductory material such as typically found in a field guide, plus a summary of edible and toxic fungi, and a mycologist photo gallery. In my experience, it’s a unique combination of features and, thus, hard to pigeon-hole.


The Ulm area encompasses 16, 132-km2, contiguous topographic quadrats in a 4 x 4 array (2112 km2 total area) centered on the cities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm, which lie along the Danube River pretty much on the border between Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Compiling a list of the fungal species of this area has been an ongoing endeavor of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mykologie Ulm (Mycological Study Group of Ulm) since its founding in 1976 by Enderle, and this compilation clearly has been his pet project.

The introductory sections include:  What is a mushroom; Life-styles and occurrence of mushrooms; Collecting and identifying mushrooms; Microscopic examination of mushrooms; Material and methods; Mycological history of the Ulm area (which began in the early 1700s); Founding and activities of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mykologie Ulm; Study area description (quadrat designations); Geology, soils, vegetation, weather, and climate of the Ulm area; Nature and fungus conservation (including red list species); Nomenclature and systematics; New taxa described in this book; Glossary; Abbreviations; Legend for figures; List of specialists for various taxa; and a list of taxa for which Enderle is author or co-author.

The floristic part lists 2681 species (2823 total taxa) of fungi in a broad sense. For instance, 94 of them are Myxomycetes. There is a variety of different entry styles -- some consist simply of attributions to other published sources. Others list specific collections by Enderle or other collectors. Some have extensive descriptive information, good to excellent quality color photos, or good quality line drawings of macro- and microfeatures. The color photos usually are of the less common species, or ones not often illustrated elsewhere. For example, they include 15 conocybes and 30 psathyrellas, but no boletes or Russulas, and only one Lactarius and Amanita each. Photos of representative habitats of the Ulm area also are scattered throughout this and other sections.


The floristic list is followed by green- and red-margined pages with short descriptions and good color photos of 50 edible and poisonous fungi found in the Ulm area. Most have rather wide distributions and so this section would be useful far beyond the study area. Also included are 10 rules to provide guidance for those who would hunt mushrooms for the table and, for those who fail to properly heed those rules, a list of sources for help in case of mushroom poisoning.

The final section consists of black-and-white photos of local and visiting mushroom hunters and mycologists, German and otherwise, such as Reinhard Agerer, Marcel Bon, Bruno Cetto, Gro Gulden, Egon Horak, German Krieglsteiner, Meinhard Moser, and Roy Watling. An extensive reference list and the index conclude the book. Fluency in German certainly will help you get the most out of the book, but much of value can still be gleaned without it.

So who’s the likely audience? Clearly for anyone interested in fungi and living in or near the Ulm area, it’s a must-have. I suspect that a search of the MSA roster would reveal that very few of our members are in that group. For most of us, living in North America, it’s less obvious why one would need this book. However, its comprehensive listing of taxa would make it a candidate for comparative biodiversity assessments, the large number of good photos of little brown mushrooms would make it useful for students of Conocybe and Psathyrella, and the mycologist photo gallery is of interest for attaching faces to European mycologists who might only be names to many of us. The price is low enough that such users, and others, should consider indulging in this perhaps not essential, but high-quality and nice-to-have, volume.

— Review by Steve Trudell, Seattle, WA
— Originally published in Innoculum