Book Review

Amaniteae: Amanita, Limacella, and Torrendia

By P. Neville and S. Poumarat
2004; Fungi Europaei, Vol, 9
1120 pages; ISBN 88-901057-3-9; €78.00
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Polyporaceae s.l.

By Annarosa Bernicchia
2005; Fungi Europaei, Vol, 10
808 pages; ISBN 88-901057-5-5; €67.00
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In this long-running series, European mycologists, many of them accomplished amateurs, present monographs on many of the most characteristic genera, groups of closely related genera, or, in one case, a broadly defined family, of mushroom-fungi. Previous volumes include Agaricus s.l. (1984 and 2008 versions, with supplement scheduled for 2009 or 2010), Boletus (1985 and 2005 versions, plus 1991 supplement), Tricholoma (1988, plus 2003 supplement and updated and expanded 2003 version), Lepiota s.l. (1990), Entoloma s.l. (1992 plus 2004 supplement), Hygrophorus s.l. (1997), Lactarius (1999), and Xerocomus s.l. (2003). The 11th volume, treating Conocybe and Pholiotina, is scheduled for publication in late 2008 or early 2009. Most of these are still available from the publisher, with main volume prices ranging from €58.00 to €76.00 and supplements from €20.00 to €68.00. Future planned volumes include Cantharellaceae, Strophariaceae, Cortinarius, hydnaceous fungi, and Psathyrella.

Each volume, for each species, provides the original diagnosis (usually in Latin), lists of synonyms and sources of additional descriptions and illustrations, comprehensive macroscopic and microscopic descriptions, habitat details, observations and taxonomic comments, drawings of microscopic features, and color paintings and/or color photos. Most are in Italian (one is in French and one in Spanish), and have the keys, and sometimes also summary descriptions, also presented in English.

Amaniteae

The Amaniteae volume is in French and has only a few portions translated into English (these don’t include the keys). The 167 pages of up-front material includes a general introduction and acknowledgments, description of the authors’ methods of study, illustrated discussions of the morphology, anatomy, and development of amanitas, description of toxicity, and lengthy discussions of critical taxonomic features and classification schemes. The comprehensive genus and species descriptions, supported by micro-feature drawings comprise 662 pages. The color photos (nearly 200), color plates (103), 60-page bibliography, and index complete this substantial work. The photos include both field and lab shots, and are of very good quality for identification purposes, if not so great aesthetically. The plates include a mix of historic and contemporary illustrations. Many of them are beautifully done and it is interesting to compare the photos and plates for the many species for which both types of image are provided.

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The Polyporaceae volume is in Italian, but has foreword, introduction, keys, and, for each species, a summary of main macro- and microscopic features in English. The up-front materials include a discussion of fungi in the environment, description of the vegetation of Italy, discussions of the macro- and micro-characteristics of the polypores and the use of fungi as environmental indicators, lists of the systematic arrangement of the groups covered and species described, and keys to families, genera, and species. The species descriptions and line drawings of micro-features follow. The back materials include a glossary, bibliography, 200 pages of color photos (mostly two per page), and index. The color photos were nearly all taken in the field, and most are quite good. There seems to be considerable overlap in morphological species between Europe and North America, and the greater-than-usual inclusion of English translations make this volume particularly useful for North America, especially given that our two major polypore treatments (Overholts, and Gilbertson and Ryvarden) lack good-quality illustrations of the fruit bodies.

Overall, this is a fine series of monographs that is amazingly little known in the U.S. and Canada. With increasing attention being given to critical comparisons of North American and European material (do the same species occur on both continents or not? do we need new names for our fungi?), these volumes represent a valuable source of information (the descriptive portions and, of course, the abundant illustrations are readily accessible even to those with limited knowledge of Euro-languages). It’s a shame that so few North Americans use them and that we don’t have anything similar for our fungi. If you are a student of any of these taxa, you should have the appropriate volume(s) in your library!

— Review by Steve Trudell
— Originally published in Fungi