Book Review: The Kingdom of Fungi

Cover of The Kingdom of FungiPrinceton University Press often creates gorgeous books, and this title is no exception. Part textbook, part work of art, The Kingdom of Fungi by Jens H. Petersen is a fine resource for anyone curious about these oft-neglected organisms.

After a lifetime of identifying species from bats to mosses using images produced to fit the size constraints of a field guide, I found The Kingdom of Fungi to be a visual cornucopia. The large format shows lush full-color illustrations of fine mycological details to their best advantage. I found the close-ups of rusts, smuts, molds, and other small fungi to be revelations, in particular – I (and I suspect many readers) have never really given a mold my full attention before.

The text is straightforward and concise, easy to understand and suitable for those who want to learn the basics. I almost regret that it was not more in-depth, but given the wide range of material covered – from taxonomy to ecology to reproduction to the vast potential array of as-yet undiscovered fungi in the world – and the already large size of the volume, anything other than an overview might have turned the book into a back-breaker for librarians and Amazon employees. That said, expect this book to whet, rather than slake, your appetite for information on its vast, wide-ranging subject matter.

A page from The Kingdom of Fungi, showing Ramarias

Available in print or as an eBook.

The Kingdom of Fungi

by Jens H. Petersen.

Princeton University Press. 2013

272 pages.

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