Good Books Are One of the Joys of Foraging
Just like our well worn knives and bags, our favorite books are not only dear to us, but also incredibly important tools. While you are sheltering in place, there is no better time to crack those spines and dig in! Be like a sponge, soak up knowledge.
Also, note – I did not add book purchase links unless I could find them directly on the author’s website. It’s a wonderful time to support your local book sellers! 2021 Update: We added links to books that we carry in our store.
Colorado Mushroom Identification Books
There are only three colorado specific ID books worth mentioning.
Mushrooms of the Rocky Mountain Region (Colorado – New Mexico – Utah – Wyoming) by Vera Stucky Evenson is the slam-dunk ID book for our region. This excellent book is part of the Timber Press Field Guide series. It is full of up-to-date information, has great pictures, and an excellent variety of mushrooms.
This book does not have edibility notes. It is the book you want to have with you when you are out foraging! It is written by Colorado’s own Vera Stucky Evenson, our local and beloved mycologist. We are lucky enough to have met Vera and spent some time foraging and learning from her.
The Essential Guide to Rocky Mountain Mushrooms by Habitat by Cathy L. Cripps, Vera Stucky Evenson, and Michael Kuo. This is our second local go-to reference. This book has a different angle, focusing on the the four primary habitat types (foothills, montane, subalpine and alpine) as well as their sub-habitats (prairie, semi-arid shrublands, cottonwood riparian, ponderosa pine, aspen forests, lodgepole pine forests, burned ground, spruce-fir forests, snowbank, high-elevation pine forests, the alpine).
While we don’t use this as an “ID book”, it has deepened our useful knowledge about the mushrooms by putting them into the context of their habitat. Each habitat is explained clearly and the featured mushrooms are common and important in their respective habitats. It is really an excellent way to learn about mushrooms and a highly recommended book.
Mushrooms of Colorado and the Southern Rocky Mountains by Vera Stucky Evenson. This is Vera’s first book published in 1997 which is now out of print. Hands down, our favorite! Well organized and easy to use, it’s a paperback printed in full color on a thick paper that feels very nice in the hand. While species names could be outdated, all the best Colorado mushrooms are in it and it has edibility notes.
Though this book may be the epitome (for us anyways) of what a mushroom ID book should be, it is difficult to get your hands on. Keep your eye out for them. You can often find a used version online at eBay or Amazon but they can be expensive. We have a small Vera problem and might own 4 or 5 of these books, trolling Amazon and used bookstores in our spare time looking for more.
General Mushroom Identification Books
The Timber Press Field Guide Series of ID books is great – beyond the Colorado book, they have Southeast, Pacific Northwest, Northeast & Canada versions.
There are three other ID books we really like:
All That the Rain Promises and More… A hip pocket guide to Western Mushrooms by David Aurora is a hugely popular and helpful book. It is very small so it is easy to carry with you. Plus, it is crammed chock full with mushrooms ID information, edibility notes, and delightful stories shared by the author. Every self-respecting mushroom hunter in the Western US probably owns this book already.
Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast – A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California by Noah Siegel and Christian Schwarz. This book is exclusive to Coastal Northern California (and Oregon too) which means many people won’t need or want it. But, if you have occasion to forage in that part of the country, this book is spectacular. It is big and chock full of excellent pictures and ID information. It also has very useful comments on each mushroom. Between the comments, the pictures, and its comprehensive coverage of regional mushrooms, this may be the best mushroom ID book on the market today. Warning – the typography is small, get your reading glasses!
Mushrooms Demystified – A Comprehensive Guide to the Fleshy Fungi by David Arora. This big book is frequently called “The Bible” by mushroom hunters. While a bit long in the tooth, it covers a huge breadth of North American species in great detail. It has notes on edibility and comments about the mushrooms both informational and educational, written in Arora’s highly accessible and entertaining style.
Books That Help Us Enjoy Our Harvest
The Complete Mushroom Hunter – An Illustrated Guide to Foraging, Harvesting, and Enjoying Wild Mushrooms by Gary Lincoff. Gary’s book is much more than an ID book. It has all the information to help the mushroom hunter go past the ID and actually gather, preserve and eat his or her catch. Its focus is purely on edible mushrooms and is useful reference as well as an entertaining read.
100 Edible Mushrooms With Tested Recipes by Michael Kuo is another important book that is pretty dog-eared on our bookshelf. This book delivers on its promise, detailing 100 mushrooms in North America that are edible. It has ID notes as well as kitchen ideas, flavor profiles and recommended recipes. This is an excellent book to pair with your ID Book and really learn more about which species you may want to collect for the table. We have collected and/or eaten about ⅓ of the mushrooms in this book so have lots to look forward to. This book will help you become more confident and knowledgeable about important edible mushrooms. It also has a bunch of recipes that we have yet to try.
Wild Mushroom Cookbooks
There are a ton of mushroom themed cookbooks out there, but the following books feature wild mushroom recipes with fantastic field tips and tricks.
The Mushroom Hunter’s Kitchen: Reimagining Comfort Food with a Chef Forager by Chad Hyatt
Chad’s book covers the widely-loved wild mushrooms but also highlights lesser known species offering delicious and creative new ways to work with all kinds of mushrooms!
Untamed Mushrooms: From Field to Table by Michael Karns, Dennis Becker, and Lisa Golden Schroeder
This midwestern wild mushroom cooking guide features thirteen favorite mushrooms and over 100 recipes.
Cooking With Healing Mushrooms: 150 Delicious Adaptogen-Rich Recipes that Boost Immunity, Reduce Inflammation & Promote Whole Body Health by Stepfanie Romine
Fun to Read Featuring Mushrooms
Can mushrooms be the main character in a good story? Well… it appears they can be.
The Mushroom Hunters: on the trail of an underground America by Langdon Cook
This fascinating and totally relatable book delves into the secretive, cash-rich world of commercial mushroom hunting in the Pacific Northwest. You will fall in love with the quirky characters and find yourself longing to be on the hunt with the gang.
How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan is a new book about psychedelics and consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Like all of Pollan’s books, this one is chock-full of science, history and stories. Here he guides us through the psychedelic experience where Psilocybin mushrooms play a key role. If you have an interest in magic mushrooms, this book will take your knowledge to the next level.
Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone. This book is full of fascinating science, facts, theories and lore about mushrooms. You will certainly learn a lot by reading it. What is really interesting though is Eugenia’s story – how she herself became mushroom obsessed and the like-minded people she met along the way. The story is one we all share!
Learn About Mushrooms
Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation – Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation by Tradd Cotter
If you have an interest in growing your own mushrooms at home, this book is awesome. It is a reference book full of helpful directions for the DIY mycologist. After reading this book you will be well equipped to grow all kinds of mushrooms, indoors and out.
Burn Morels: A Modern Forager’s Guide to Finding Mushrooms by Trent and Kristen Blizzard
Gratuitous self promotion! But seriously, if you have always wanted to learn how to successfully hunt burn morels and master the science behind the mushrooms, this book is for you.
Do you have a favorite mushroom themed book that is not on our list? Let us know in the comments!
You need to add Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets. Also, the Mushroom Cultivator by Paul Stamets.
Thanks Tom. I have personally read those books, pretty much cover-to-cover. Kristen and I are both fans of Paul Stamets and believe his contribution is genius. That said, I think the Mushroom Cultivator is a classic, but, ultimately is not as useful as Tradd’s book. I almost added Mycelium Running to the list, and for that matter Radical Mycology by Peter McCoy, which I probably would have put on ahead of Mycellium Running. I think both those books have great mycoremediation information and really like them, but figured I would make the hard choice and recommend only one book that best fit the bill. Maybe we will have to start a more detailed list on cultivation and mycormediation and include those… and a few more! Oddly… I wonder if others have this experience, but, it seems like books were good to get the big picture and get started, but, for cultivation I find I learn more in Facebook groups and forums where people are sharing their experience. My cultivation books are not referenced as much as I used to reference them. This recently has been true for me especially this Winter when I worked on my cordyceps chops and realized the printed literature is simply not adequate.
TY both for keeping us all abreasted with great info, a day of reading may be worth two in the field.