Book Review

Flora Agaricina Neerlandica:
Vol. 5, Agaricaceae

M. E. Noordeloos, Th. W. Kuyper, E. C. Vellinga, eds.
Rotterdam: A. A. Balkema Publishers, 2001. 169 pp.
ISBN 90-5410-494-5 (cloth). $89.95.

The Flora Agaricina Neerlandica (FAN for short) consists of a series of volumes described by the editors as "critical monographs on families of agarics and boleti occurring in the Netherlands." Despite the small size of that country (about twice as large as New Jersey), a large number of fungi occur there, and the mycoflora of the Netherlands is among the better known ones. The editors all are professional mycologists who are well regarded internationally so the series carries high credibility in the mycological community.

The present volume covers the Agaricaceae. As you would expect, that includes the genus Agaricus. However, if you haven't been following the taxonomic changes that are being made, you may be surprised to find the lepiotas (in the broad sense) included here as well. Thus, you'll find the genera Macrolepiota, Chlorophyllum, Leucocoprinus, Leucoagaricus, Lepiota, Chamaemyces, and Cystolepiota, as well as Melanophyllum treated here.

Macrolepiota rachodes

Like the previous volumes, this one is divided into General and Taxonomic parts. Here, the general part includes Scope, Methods, and Presentation (including a map of the Netherlands and a list of abbreviations used in the text and drawings); Glossary; Abbreviations of Authors' Names; and Bibliographic Abbreviations. The taxonomic part includes keys and descriptions of the included taxa. Typically in this series, each genus is handled by a different author. In this volume, only two authors are involved – Maruke Nauta for Agaricus and Allopsalliota, and Else Vellinga for all of the lepiotoid genera and Melanophyllum.

The keys make liberal use of technical terminology and microscopic features; thus they require some experience in identification, as well as a microscope and chemical reagents. Each species description includes the full name, list of synonyms, lists of sources for illustrations and descriptions, Dutch common name, comprehensive description of macro- and microscopic characters and chemical reactions, and summary of habitat and distribution both within and outside the Netherlands. Many entries also include comments concerning look-alikes, taxonomic rationale, or emphasis of key identification features. Each description includes high quality line drawings of whole sporocarps, a sporocarp in long-section, spores, and, in some cases, cystidia. Despite the authors being Dutch, the text is in English: perhaps not flawless, but with few awkward spots.

Although many of the Dutch Agaricus and Lepiota species have not been recorded in North America, a rather substantial number have, so this volume will be useful for identifying fungi here, especially in the northern U.S. and Canada. In addition, it provides clear descriptions and taxonomic assessments of the Euro-species that will allow critical comparisons to be made between our mushrooms and theirs. Which ones are the same and which are different? Else Vellinga's work with lepiotas since taking up residence at UC Berkeley already has shown that such comparisons can produce valuable results. For instance, she demonstrated that many collections that have passed as Lepiota clypeolaria, L. ventriosospora, and L. fusispora in both North America and Europe actually represent L. magnispora, a species described from North America by W.A. Murrill in the early 1900s. The availability of this series and other recent publications from Europe will make more such enlightening comparisons possible.

Lepiota magnspora

This is not a book to page through while sitting in an overstuffed chair by the fire as you might do with your color-photo guides. However, if you are serious about identifying the fungi you find, this book and the others in the series can be a big help to you, even if they don't provide all the answers.

Note: Previous volumes in the series all are still available, although only in hard cover, from CRC Press ($89.95; 1-800-272-7737; www.crcpress.com). They include Entolomataceae – Rhodocybe, Clitopilus, and Entoloma, including Nolanea and Leptonia, (Vol. 1); Pleurotus, Phyllotopsis, Lentinula, Lentinus, Volvariella, Hygrocybe, Camarophyllus, and Hygrophorus (Vol. 2); Tricholomataceae – tribes Hygrocybeae, Clitocybeae, Laccarieae, Collybieae, Marasmieae, Myceneae, Resupinateae, Panelleae, Pseudohyathuleae, Macrocystideae, Rhodoteae, and Biannularieae (Vol. 3); and Psilocybe, Pholiota, Tricholoma, Porpoloma, Tricholomopsis, Melanoleuca, Baeospora, Hydropus, Megacollybia, Mycenella, Oudemansiella, Strobilurus, and Xerula (Vol. 4).

While this review has been in the queue, Volume 6 has been released, covering Coprinus, Bolbitius, Conocybe, Pholiotina, and Agrocybe. I plan to cover it, as well as do a more taxonomically focused assessment of the series, in a future review.

Review by Steve Trudell, Seattle, WA
Originally published in The Mycophile 47:3, 2006