Cover: In the Company of Mushrooms: A Biologist's Tale, from Harvard University PressCover: In the Company of Mushrooms in E-DITION

In the Company of Mushrooms

A Biologist's Tale

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674432765

Publication Date: 04/15/1997

280 pages



Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

Elio Schaechter has written an entertaining account of the arcane world of hunting and identifying wild mushrooms… Schaechter several times disclaims his book as a guide, and he is quite right. This book is not a guide to collecting mushrooms; rather, it is a guide to thinking about them.—Margaret E. Guthrie, The New York Times Book Review

[A] funny and fascinating book.Nature

Elio Schaechter’s In the Company of Mushrooms is a delight from start to finish, a truly splendid account of an obsession. It’s everything about mushrooms: their extraordinary biology, history, appearance, flavours, folklore, cuisine, gathering and more. A passionate work, admits Schaechter. Laced with stories and arcane knowledge (did you know that truffle-hunting pigs are all sows, chasing a sex hormone the fungus secretes?), this is a dream of a book.New Scientist

Crimini!’ I exclaimed, halfway through this charming story of one man’s love affair with mushrooms. ‘Fungi aren’t quite as yucky as I thought.’… [A]long with a wealth of lore about the natural history of fungi and the social history of the people who hunt them, Schaechter provides a lengthy list of clubs in the United States and Canada where amateurs can learn mycogastronomy firsthand. In short, here’s a book where you’re sure to find a good story with an uplifting morel.—Laurence A. Marschall, The Sciences

[In the Company of Mushrooms] is an eclectic and arcane account of mushrooms in history and folklore, of their biology and importance in the environment, and of the characters who hunt and study them. From the use of mushrooms in the political murder of Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius, to species nicknamed Laughing Jim and the Train Wrecker, the book fascinates from cover to cover, and will be as accessible to the lay reader as to the professional microbiologist.—Ron Fraser, Microbiology Today [UK]

A wonderful book by an amateur in the best meaning of the word. Schaechter makes a convincing case for E.O. Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis—the suggestion of an inborn affinity human beings have for other forms of life. This book is not a field guide on how to distinguish edible from poisonous mushrooms; it is filled with stories about fungi and the people who study them (as he reminds us, story and history derive from the Greek work for ‘learning by inquiry’).—Felix Bärlocher, Quarterly Review of Biology

[A] charming memoir… [In the Company of Mushrooms] is ‘science writing’ (usually an oxymoron) at its very best.—M. R. Montgomery, The Boston Globe

An enthusiastic journey through mushroom lore and science.The Chronicle of Higher Education

Elio Schaechter’s In the Company of Mushrooms is likely to stoke the ardor of mushroom lovers; it’s certainly bound to increase their knowledge of this most intriguing plant.—David Farkas, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

One of the most enjoyable books that I’ve read in the last few years… In the Company of Mushrooms is more than just a book by a mycologist; it is a wonderful tale of one man’s love of mushrooms, intelligently written with style and humor. I can’t recommend this book enough.DUFF, The Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz Newsletter

This is a delightful book, written with enthusiasm, passion and humour. Elio Schaechter, a microbiologist by profession is also a naturalist whose ability to tell a tale and at the same time impart scientific information through his anecdotal style of writing is very refreshing. This book (the text of which is interspersed with line drawings and which includes some striking colour photographs at its centre) would make an excellent gift (or personal purchase) for any naturalist, but will be of particular interest to the amateur collector of fungi as well as the professional mycologist. A gem of a book, representing excellent value for money.—Vicki Tariq, SGM Quarterly

[An] engaging book.Booklist

[Schaechter] covers the whole mushroom: biology and life history, common wild and cultivated species, clubs and collecting, eating, and hallucinogenic and poisonous mushrooms. The author enthusiastically entertains and informs the reader with his worldwide experiences as a mushroom gatherer and gourmet and as a consultant to the Boston Poison Center… Not a detailed field guide, cookbook, or textbook, this work is an excellent choice for the curious but perhaps biology-deficient reader who would like to know a little more about mushrooms.Library Journal

An intelligent and delightful tour of the mushroom world. It serves as an excellent introduction to the mushroom microcosm, yet contains enough novel and insightful material to appeal to even the most jaded mushroom hunter or mycologist. I recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in nature.—David Arora, author of Mushrooms Demystified: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fleshy Fungi

Which mushroom can be used to polish silver? Why did the USDA place a temporary ban on shiitakes? Just how do fungi handle sex with not just two but thousands of genders? In the Company of Mushrooms tells all. And Elio Schaechter is himself the best of company—witty, graceful, and possessed by wonder.—Janet Lembke, author of Dangerous Birds: A Naturalist’s Aviary

Schaechter succeeds admirably in making the fungi understandable for someone not versed in biology or genetics. Very pleasant reading.—Orson K. Miller, author of Mushrooms of North America

This book is a delightful foray into the world of fungi. Schaechter, a microbiologist, takes us on a tour of the world of mushrooms and mushroomers, serving up his insights, firsthand experience, and scientific expertise with a healthy dose of good humor. He leads us through field and forest, book shops and laboratories, demonstrating how mushrooms and mushrooming became his own hobby and passion. In the Company of Mushrooms is a book both for experienced mushroomers and for beginners—for those who have a hobby and those who are searching for one.—Donald Pfister, Harvard University

Full of curiosity, taste, and surprise, these ebullient forays into the nature of mushrooms are more than warm and appreciative. They are an invitation to—nay, immediate membership in—the grand fellowship and company of mushroom hunters.—Roger B. Swain, Science Editor, Horticulture Magazine

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

(logo) SpeakOUT: 50th Anniversary

Speaking with SpeakOut Boston

We continue our celebration of Pride Month by talking with some of the speakers who volunteer with SpeakOUT Boston. They share their stories with a variety of audiences to foster a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community, so we thought we’d ask them some questions of our own.