In Fungipedia, world-renowned mycologist Lawrence Millman offers a veritable feast of ecological, ethnographic, and occasionally just plain odd fungi facts. From entries on the size-altering Fly Agaric in Alice in Wonderland, to medicinal applications of Chaga by northern Native peoples, Millman explores every corner of the fungal world with a delightful balance of scientific fact, cultural context, and uproarious wit.

Biologist and writer Merlin Sheldrake’s book, Entangled Life, introduces some of our world’s most valuable, but least known, players: Fungi.

When we think of fungi, we likely think of mushrooms. Yet, fungi make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that supports and sustains nearly all living systems. There are as many as 3.8 million species of fungi in the world—between six and ten times the number of plant species—and over ninety percent of their species remain undocumented.

Drawing from his extensive research, Sheldrake explores the intimate relationship between fungi, plants, and animals, and sheds new light on everything from the evolution of life on our planet to sustainable industries to human behavior.

This book demonstrates the surprising ways fungi affect our lives through business, medicine, food and housing. Fungi can cause hunger and cost us billions of dollars:  (i.e. rice blast fungus annually ruins enough rice to feed over 60 million people); the fungal diseases of trees transform forests and landscapes; and types of fungus that have developed a resistance to anti-fungal medications threaten both human and plant health.

Fungi generate new ecosystems. When islands are made or glaciers retreat, lichens, a union of fungi and bacteria, assert themselves to make these environments hospitable for life.

Yeasts give us alcohol and the author makes an excellent cider from Isaac Newton’s (apocryphal) apples. Delicious truffles seduce us into digging them up and spreading their spores. Penicillin, cyclosporine (an immunosuppressant drug that makes organ transplants possible); taxol (a cancer drug) and psilocybin, (the active component in psychedelic mushrooms) have transformed medicine.

 

 

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