New Holland Concise Mushroom Guide – New Holland 2011 | Paperback | 192 pages | 200 colour illustrations | Waterproof PVC cover | ISBN: 9781847737854Publisher’s View: This illustrated mini field guide is packed with information on 200 species of fungi found in Britain and the near Continent. The range covered demonstrates the incredible variety that exists within the world of fungi, from the better-known groups such as the boletes and russulas, to more esoteric and often strangely shaped types like bracket fungi, clubs, corals, puffballs, stinkhorns and elfcups. 

All the species are illustrated with full-colour artworks that show–where relevant–characteristics of shape and other aspects of appearance that change during their lives. A concise written account covers size, description, habitat and the season in which each fungus may be found. 

The book also includes a foldout insert with at-a-glance illustrations showing comparisons between similar-looking fungi.

Fatbirder View: This is a gem as far as it goes. It is so tiny in format that it reminds me of the old ‘I-Spy’ books or ‘The Observer book of…’. Its not just small enough to fit in a jacket pocket, you could probably pop it into your shirt pocket.

A couple of negative notes… page 9 of the intro warns readers that that generally no mention will be made as to the edibility of the fungi as people should be expert before taking a chance… it quite rightly describes itself as a fieldguide. However, to an extent it forgets its own advice – just four pages later it describes a fungi as ‘…one of the best edible species’. A couple of others are described as being very tasty. Now there are dire warnings about several more deadly species and occasionally re-iterates the problems of misidentification. A bit of light editing is needed for the next edition.

My other gripe is with the colour… in an ID guide little is more important than getting the colours right and my feeling is that it ios not spot on… going by the VERY few fungi I know. An example would be the horse mushroom… one I used to collect for my own breakfast as a kid. In the illustration the large open fungi have rather livid pink gills… maybe this is true for an hour after opening – what Shakespeare called the ‘midnight mushrump’, but they quickly become light brown which darkens through the day. If you are going to show one as fully open surely it would have coloured.

Nevertheless, this is a great little guide, and mine will now live in the car glove box.

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