Appalachian Mushrooms: a field guide – Walter E. Sturgeon

While visiting at Ohio University Press in Athens a few days ago, I acquired a copy of mushroom expert Walt Sturgeon’s new book, Appalachian Mushrooms: a field guide, which was released last fall by OU Press.

Walt Sturgeon at Holden Arboretum “Mushroom Day” in September, 2016

Walt Sturgeon is a self-taught field mycologist (a person who studies mushrooms) with more than forty years of experience identifying and learning about fungi. Walt is a co-founder of the Ohio Mushroom Society, and he is without doubt the most knowledgeable person that I have ever met with regard to the 2000+ species of mushrooms that grow in and around the Buckeye State. Walt has co-authored several books about mushrooms, including Mushrooms and Macrofungi of Ohio and the Midwestern States (2013) and Mushrooms of the Northeast (2016), but his finest literary accomplishment is his new book,  Appalachian Mushrooms: a field guide.

Amanita parcivolvata – Photo by Walt Sturgeon

Appalachian Mushrooms: a field guide has 471 pages and covers more than 400 mushroom species which may be found in the Appalachian Mountains from Canada to Georgia. Most of the mushrooms likely to be found in Ohio are included, making this book an excellent field guide for Buckeye mushroom hunters and fungi aficionados.Walt is an accomplished and award-winning photographer, and several hundred of his mushroom photos are included in the book, such as the beautiful images of Amanita parcivolvata and Mycena leaiana shown above and below.   

Mycena leaiana – Photo by Walt Sturgeon

Several years ago, the Ohio Mushroom Society held a summer weekend meeting in the Athens area. I was unable to attend due to a prior commitment, but I mentioned the OMS meeting during a phone conversation with Ohio University Press executive director Gillian Berkowitz, who was able to participate and met Walt Sturgeon during the weekend’s activities. Gillian and Walt discussed the possibility of an Ohio University Press collaboration on a mushroom book, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The photo of Walt Sturgeon shown above was taken during a Mushroom Day I helped to organize at The Holden Arboretum in Lake County, Ohio on September 16, 2016. During the afternoon mushroom hikes around the Arboretum’s grounds, the 45+ participants gathered more than 200 species of wild mushrooms, which were later identified by Walt and other knowledgeable guides and displayed on paper plates that filled the room we were using for the program. Walt was the keynote speaker, and in the photo he is conducting a “table walk”, describing the mushrooms on each of the paper plates. The serious expression on Walt’s face in the photo is appropriate for the mushroom he is holding in his hand, a Destroying Angel, a deadly poisonous mushroom that is common in Ohio’s woodlands in summer. 

Appalachian Mushrooms: a field guide is designed to be used by lay people, and includes non-technical keys and descriptions of each mushroom that will enable the reader to identify mushrooms without a deep knowledge of botanical terminology and with no need for a microscope or chemical tests. Mushroom classification is in a state of flux due to DNA analysis that is upending many of the established taxonomies of mushrooms, and the book includes the latest genus and species classifications as well as detailed information about each mushroom’s description, habitat, edibility, and comments based on Walt Sturgeon’s decades of mushroom study.           

Appalachian Mushrooms: a field guide may be purchased from the Ohio University Press website for $28, which is a 20% saving from the book’s retail price of $35. Even better, attend an Ohio Mushroom Society weekend foray and purchase a signed copy of the book from Walt Sturgeon, who will probably be in attendance.

Congratulations to Walt Sturgeon on his outstanding new book on the “fungus among us” in the mountains of Appalachia.             








This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I would like to email Walt Sturgeon, questions about mushrooms

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