CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review

Polypores of the Mediterranean Region

By A. Bernicchia & S.P. Gorjón
Romar SRI, 2020
Hardbound, 903 pp., € 95.00
ISBN 978-8896-182-14-7

Before I began my review of Polypores of the Mediterranean, I did what I usually do—I investigated prior reviews so as to agree or, more likely, disagree with them. I searched far and wide over the internet and, astonishingly, didn’t find a single review. Here was a significant book on polypores that’s been ignored by journals in both Europe and North America! Whether this oversight is because, as eminent mycologist Leif Ryvarden suggested to me, the world is far more interested in agarics than polypores I have no idea. That one of the book’s authors, Annarosa Bernicchia, is another eminent mycologist simply adds to the mystery.

The title Polypores of the Mediterranean Region is actually a misnomer, since the geography covered in its species descriptions includes not only the Mediterranean, but almost all of Europe. For example, there’s a section on Haploporus odorus, a species found only in northern Scandinavia (and the northern plains of North America). Even so, the book benefits from having a larger range than its title suggests, since that broad range opens the door to far more than species than the ones typically found in the Mediterranean itself.

The front matter provides an excellent introduction to the macro- and micromorphology of polypores and their substrates, along with comprehensive keys to families, genera, and species, but it’s the rest of the book’s matter that truly shines. The authors describe 116 genera and 435 species in detail, with lots of information on phylogenetic relationships. The photographs of microscopic features such as basidia, spores, and hyphae are remarkable … with a few exceptions. The photo of the spores of Steccherinum fimbriatum are themselves highly fimbriate, and the one of the basidia and cystiodoles of Sarcoporia polyspora are hardly more than a blur.

The authors are so up-to-date on molecular studies that some of the species they include haven’t yet made their way to Index Fungorum. They describe 8 species that used to be members in good standing of Phellinus (any day now I expect to see a new genus called Felinus so named because its setae resemble a cat’s whiskers), while even the percipient mycologist may not be familiar with such new genera as Bondarcevomyces, Buglossoporus, and Sanghuangporus. Whether I’m percipient or not, I hadn’t been aware that Postia tephroleuca has now been swallowed by P. lactea.

Polypores of the Mediterranean Region has now received its very first review. Let me conclude that review by saying that the book is a very useful companion to Leif Ryvarden’s two volume classic North American Polypores. That’s because there’s a considerable overlap of species in Europe and on this side of the proverbial pond. Here’s one final quibble: I wish the authors had mentioned that annual polypores on both sides of the pond are becoming perennial due to climate change. But such quibbles aside, I heartily recommend this massive tome for all mycological libraries as well as individuals who have a penchant for polypores.

— Review by Lawrence Millman
— Originally published in Fungi