[This article is part of the “Foraging Resources” series]
The UK and Ireland are home to a diverse range of wild mushrooms, with approximately 15,000 species inhabiting the region.
Identifying these fungi can be a challenging task, especially for those new to the field, without the support of reliable mushroom guidebooks.
To facilitate the identification process and provide some guidance, this article aims to recommend a few fungi identification books.
While there is no single book that can provide all the necessary information, cross-referencing various books on mushroom identification and fungi reference books can aid in identifying findings.
In addition to providing identification information, some of the recommended mushroom books also include delectable recipes, making mushroom hunting a fulfilling experience.
List of recommended mushroom foraging books
Mushrooms: A comprehensive guide to mushroom identification – by Roger Phillips
Respected foragers rely on this Mushroom Encyclopaedia as their go-to guide for fungi identification at home. With its exceptional pictures, precise descriptions, and comprehensive edibility notes, it ticks all the boxes for me.
While the book’s academic writing style and technical data may make it more suitable for intermediate to advanced level users, its value in aiding accurate mushroom identification cannot be overstated.
Edible Mushrooms: A Forager’s Guide to the Wild Fungi of Britain and Europe – by Geoff Dann
If you’re on the hunt for a new mushroom book, check out this comprehensive guide to British fungi. Overflowing with vibrant colour photographs and detailed information, this book is a must-have for any fungi enthusiast.
At nearly A4 size and spanning over 500 pages, it is an information-packed resource covering everything from species descriptions to their smell, taste, habitat, seasonality, and edibility.
Additionally, the book features a comprehensive introduction that covers important topics such as safety, equipment, laws, ethics, and preparation methods.
River Cottage Handbook no1 Mushrooms – by John Wright
This mushroom book for beginners focusses on the 50 most commonly found edible species in Britain. Compact and portable, it is nearly A5 size and spans just over 250 pages, making it light enough to use as a field guide.
The writing style is fun and light-hearted, with clear photographs accompanying each species, The book provides vital information on habitat, seasonality, taste, and cooking preparation.
Additionally, it features a user-friendly key and a dedicated chapter on poisonous lookalikes, ensuring safe mushroom foraging. The back of the book doubles as a fungi recipe book, making it a practical and enjoyable resource for any mushroom hunter.
Collins Complete guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools – by Paul Sterry & Barry Hughes
For both amateur mycologists and mushroom lovers, this book is an excellent all-rounder, covering every fungus species one is likely to encounter in the UK and Ireland. Despite its comprehensive coverage, it remains compact enough to be carried as a useful field guide.
This book is an ideal tool to expand one’s mycological identification skills and knowledge of the science of fungi. Compared to other pocket guides, it provides extensive coverage and detail on each species, making it a valuable resource for mushroom enthusiasts at any level.
Mushrooms (Collins Gem) – by Patrick Harding & Alan Outen
When it comes to carrying a comprehensive book in your rucksack, this pocket-sized guide is second to none.
It begins with a key to the species illustrated in the book, making navigation a breeze. The guide is then divided into chapters by genera, with each species itemized on its own page. Information provided includes size, habitat, seasonality, edibility, and similar species, allowing for easy identification and understanding.
Collins Fungi Guide: The most complete field guide to the Mushrooms & Toadstools of Britain & Ireland - by Stefan Buczacki
For those seeking another comprehensive field guide, check out this Collins field guide, covering 2,400 mushroom species that can be found in the UK and Ireland.
The Fungi Guide is packed with detailed illustrations that aid in the correct identification of mushrooms, complete with descriptions and notes on identifying similar-looking species. The book’s illustrations are particularly helpful as they provide clear details that photographs may miss.
Complete Mushroom Book, The Quiet Hunt – by Antonio Carluccio
Fuelled by passion and enthusiasm, this inspiring book will leave you itching to venture into the woods to forage for wild mushrooms.
The first half of the book provides an authoritative, well-illustrated field guide to aid in mushroom identification, offering valuable insights into each species.
The second half of the book transforms into a mushroom cookery book, boasting over 100 recipe ideas that are sure to tantalise your taste buds.
While these are my personal favourite mushroom hunting books, there are plenty of other excellent resources available, each with their unique features and purposes.
I hope that I have ignited your passion for mycology and inspired you to delve deeper into the fascinating world of fungi.
What guide do you recommend for foraging mushrooms? Do you have any other suggestions for resources that might be helpful to fellow mushroom enthusiasts?