CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review

Wood Decay Fungi:
Common to the Northeast & Central United States, 2nd Ed.

By Christopher J. Luley
2022, Urban Forest Diagnostics LLC, Naples, NY
147 pages; 8.5 x 11 inches
wire bound softcover; 328 color photos
ISBN 978-0-9767129-3-0
$64.95; available from the International Society of Arboriculture

Most arborists will recognize the name Christopher Luley, as he has been a forest pathologist for many years and is an expert with wood rot fungi that attack trees, particularly, those found in urban settings. He’s written many books and published many journal articles on the topic.

Wood Decay Fungi Common to the Northeast & Central United States is a revised edition of a book by the same title that came out in 2005. This large format (8.5 X 11 inches) book includes more than 250 images of 50 different fungi (by my count) commonly found on urban trees in the Northeast and central part of North America. There are also a few non-pathogenic mushrooms thrown in for good measure—to point out that not all is awry when mushrooms fruit near the base of trees. The main content is divided into two sections, plus two appendices, and an index. Section 1 is devoted to the basics of tree decay, the biology and pathology of decay fungi, and how to identify fungal pathogens. Section 2 contains the images and descriptions of decay fungi for use in field identification, along with critical information on their pathology, decay potential, and importance. The book concludes with two appendices; appendix 1 is scientific names and their authorities and appendix 2 lists some additional guidebooks to assist with ID.

The text is well written, very easy to read, and a treat visually—quite literally, every two-page spread. (The handy ring binding allows one to view both pages of a spread, or to fold under for a more compact read.) The format of the book is arranged so that the lefthand page consists of pertinent information and the righthand page consists of (usually) six large color pictures of the fungi, host tree damage, or both.

This book is very useful. There is plenty of great, basic information about wood rot—basics that any mycophile or tree-lover would be curious about. As one example, the entry titled “The Big Five Must-Know Decay Fungi of Urban Living Trees in Order of Importance.” The really large and abundant photos are a big plus. AndWood Decay Fungi is an excellent guide book to the polypores (mostly) we see on trees in an urban setting, and how to know one from another. I’ll definitely make very frequent use of my copy!

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi