miked's picture

Collins Fungi Guide: The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain & Ireland

Had a brief look at this book today and will order a copy. Might become one of the main fieldguides that people use for fungi. My initial brief look suggested that the illustrations will take a bit of getting use to as is often the case with drawings of fungi.

It seemed to have some interesting species that are not covered by other guides. Descriptions seem a bit short.

Its quite expensive for a field guide but can get it cheaper on internet.

Will give more thoughts when I get hold of it.
Anyone used the book yet?



miked's picture

Having a quick look on the

Having a quick look on the web, this book has received some very mixed reviews, some people suggesting its very poor.
Shame the updated version of Marcel Bon's fieldguide never appeared as I suspect that might have been rather better.

miked's picture

Now have a copy of the

Now have a copy of the book.
Can see why it has received such mixed reviews, for example 66 pages devoted to 'resupinate' fungi, over 500 species but you'd be hard pressed to identify any of them from the illustrations. On the other hand this is a section fungi that most books tend to ignore partly because they are so difficult to illustrate and this book has a stab at them and gives brief descriptions including the spores.

Apart from the resupinates it also has a scattering of other fungi that tend to be missing from other field guides, always nice when you suddenly see something that you've been unable to identify for years and there it is. [http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/285293#comment-83955]

As with many fungi books one of the ID categories is taste, I am just looking at the Inocybe's and under taste it says 'do not attempt' which is perhaps good advice since there are a lot of poisonous ones!

Its clearly a huge undertaking to cover the 2400 species and some corners had to be cut, there are a limited number of words in the descriptions and somewhat variable quality illustrations.

You definitely need to get your eye in to understand what the illustration in the book looks like in reality, something you don't have to worry about with a photographic guide such as Phillips. Also in many cases there is just one image of the fungus so you may not be able see the gills i.e. exactly what we keep complaining about on ispot - need to see those gills as well as stem and cap.

Perhaps there will be an A3 edition produced in a couple of years so they can include a more detailed description, more than one image of each species and any errors that people find in this edition corrected.

Think its well worth buying but perhaps not for the beginner as they could easily get lost in the huge number of species many of which are not common.

Fenwickfield's picture

Thanks for the information

I think I will get it off Amazon as probably cheaper than a bookshop.It is good to get an insight into the book before buying and would be worth having a book review section on iSpot.I think we will have to keep on at asking for photo's of gills and stem for some time but once someone becomes interested they then start to realise how important it is or am I fooling myself.


miked's picture

When I was looking at the

When I was looking at the book last evening I was wondering whether I would have ever started into fungi if I had been presented with this book and the answer might have been no. Whereas with the Phillips or Bon book the answer would probably have been yes. Reason being that quite a number of the images in this book are rather harsh and aggressive somehow and not that realistic (unless you know what it 'should' look like and realise how the artist has represented these characters). AND there are so many species that look so similar - where on earth can anyone who does not already have a good idea of the fungi start?
Actually some of the other books in this recent series of Collins guides e.g. plants suffer from similar issues of variable quality illustrations (apart from the birds guide which gets high praise). The illustrations are not bad but just not the best. They don't really enthuse people to buy the books whereas if the illustrations were more beautiful (and just as accurate) and even in quality and laid out well on the page then it would encourage more people to be naturalists and encourage more sales. Perhaps this is what is planned for the next edition.

Fenwickfield's picture

decided not to

I have decided not to purchase this book and stick to my original plan of buying books on one genus only as and when they come out.They seen to be better and have good photo's and information one each fungi also excellent keys to the species,colour photographs,information on further reading too.I wonder why Collins did not use photo's as I think drawings are out of date now as we live in a digital age now.
I have just got the new book on The Genus Amanita in Great Britain by Geoffrey Kibby which came out this month and it is fantastic I cannot fault anything in the book but all I need now id some Amanita to identify.Oh it does have a sub section of non British species in it to.I also have a on on the genus Agaricus which came out in November last year which is also excellent.I think this is the way forward if you get the fungi bug as I don't think they could ever produce one book that would contain all fungi.


miked's picture

Look forward to all your

Look forward to all your Amanita and Agaricus ID's ;-)
The illustrations in the collins guide are not bad, its just that they take some getting use to which has been my experience in most fungi books where they have used drawings rather than photos. Drawings can convey the information better than photos in many natural history cases but with fungi its particularly difficult. Should note that many of the fungi guides that use photos also only have one specimen per species (except phillips) so there can still be problems with not showing gills and cap. It is also extremely difficult to produce photographs of large numbers of species as each one is only in its good fresh photograph-able condition for a very short time whereas drawings can be from dried material, descriptions and previous illustrations/photos as well as fresh material.
Actually I wonder what type of material was used for the drawing of death cap in the collins guide as its almost white with just the faintest hint of green, you do occasionally see them looking like this but its certainly not the normal condition, you'd think they would be particularly careful to get this one right. What does it look like in the amanita book?

Fenwickfield's picture

full page

They have a full page of six photos at different stages of development greenish in colour greenish bands of veil on the stem very well shown pictures of sac,gills stem ect. Must say just because I have the books does not mean I will get them right I will just think I have :)


Amadan's picture

British Wildlife were a bit cool about it -

Echoing comments here: perhaps a few less species and more detail would have been better.
Peter Marren is releasing his own book in conjunction with the magazine, but it is not a field guide, more a personal account.
At £22 (current offer for a signed copy) it might be a bit steep, but fungi fanatics will, I think, find it a good read. The extracts in the magazine are well-written and tempting, even to someone with my level of knowledge.

Fenwickfield's picture

level of Knowledge

I personally feel that the subject has to have good information books for use to become interested in the subject and also able to improve our knowledge.I personally would rather pay more for a book if I was going to be able to understand and enjoy it,this is what I like about the books on a specific genus.


Ray Turner's picture

Plates v Photos

Interesting debate this. In my opinion a good illustration beats a good photo every day; the artist is able to emphasise detail in a way a photograph cannot. I find very few photo guides help me in the field and much prefer an illustration, so much so I try not to buy guides that use only or rely mostly on photos, though this is becoming harder and harder to avoid. Having said that I have seen some truly awful plates.
Aesthetically I find plates so much nicer too.



D.M.H.'s picture

I have a nice all white

I have a nice all white Amanita I have yet to ID will post pic later today.


All given ID's are subject to error/ommissions. Please seek independent verification before acting on ANY advice given. BE SAFE =)