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California offers a rich field for the mushroom hunter. During the rainy season, the woods abound in a wide variety of fungi, often beautiful in form and color. Some are abundant, others rare and elusive. More and more people, especially Californians, are discovering the fascination of mushrooms. Some are intrigued by their pharmaceutical properties, others are enchanted by their culinary characteristics. Yet among the numerous studies on California plants, the fleshy fungi (mushrooms in particular) have been neglected. In fact, a large number of the eighty bolete species found in California cannot be identified by any single reference now available other than this volume.

This taxonomic guide to the Boletaceae of California is an attempt to fill the gap. It is designed for both the amateur and the professional mycologist-indeed, for anyone interested in mushrooms. The species descriptions are detailed enough for the expert, yet understandable to the casual observer. General comments on habitat, and documentation of the areas where the specimens were collected, will enable the reader to make exciting discoveries of his own. Explanations of technical terms, field keys, descriptions, and illustrations should help even the beginner to identify boletes in the field without use of a microscope. Since most boletes are edible (and many are considered delicious), comments have been included on the edibility of various species.

Mycophagists (mushroom eaters) should find this guide useful in filling kitchen baskets*, nature-study teachers should find it useful in making more accurate identifications in the field or in helping their students to identify specimens; and it should enrich the experience of hikers, weekend naturalists, and visitors to our state and national parks.

A unique feature of this book is the microfiche of fifty-four full-color photographs of some of the most important species. This film card, contained in a sleeve on the inside front cover, can be used in a number of ways: in the field, collectors can simply hold it up to the sky or use a hand lens to compare specimens with the photographs. Or the microfiche can be used on a microfiche reader in any library. On the viewer the photographs are enlarged many times life size which makes more detailed examination possible. This couldn't be done if the color illustrations were in the book itself.

Why a microfiche? Partly economics. But more important, film dyes give greater color fidelity than the best printers ink. With a microfiche the reader is given more illustrations with greater fidelity at a lower cost than had they been printed in the conventional way.

Finally, this book does not pretend to record all the boletes in the State of California. The species included are based on the author's herbarium, which was begun in 1959 and now numbers over 4,000 specimens. Collecting was done in the coastal forests from Crescent City to Santa Barbara, the Cascade Range, the Klamath Mountains, and most of the Sierra Nevada; and some specimens are gathered in Riverside and San Diego counties. The eighty species described represent a substantial increase in the number of boletes reported from California prior to 1959. In addition, five extralimital species are described, on the strong possibility that they will soon be found-you are welcome to try your hand!

It is a pleasure to express my gratitude to the following: the numerous individuals who contributed collections, including my students, who, in addition, provided much of the motivation for this study; Dr. Alexander H. Smith, former Director of the University of Michigan Herbarium, who willingly shared his extensive knowledge of the boletes; my wife, who offered many helpful suggestions, prepared the Latin diagnoses, and proofread the manuscript. Thanks are also extended to the officials of the California State Parks System, the San Francisco Water Department, and Lassen and Yosemite National Parks for collecting permits in areas under their supervision. The financial support of the National Science Foundation (grants GB2760 and GB14937) and the Frederic Burk Foundation of San Francisco State University, San Francisco (grants 2053, 222, and 132), have helped to make this study possible.

* The mushroom eater must be cautioned: a mushroom cannot be identified positively by just comparing the specimen to a color photograph, no matter how good that photograph may be.

The Boletes of California
Copyright © 1975 by Dr. Harry D. Thiers
Additional content for the online edition © 1998 by Michael Wood, Fred Stevens, & Michael Boom
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