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Mushrooms of northeastern North America [Paperback]

Alan E Bessette
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Encyclopaedic! Oct. 5 2004
Format:Paperback
This book is really impressive in its coverage. The description are quite complete (although somewhat lacking a section on the details differentiating one mushroom to its similar cousins) and the text is generally well organised. The reason why I gave only four stars to this book is simple: pictures and textual descriptions are separated in different sections! I guess I am still dreaming about a complete guide showing important identification details with pictures and text.
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Format:Paperback
I live in the NY Adirondack Mountains and have been collecting mushrooms for years, trying to identify them. I almost gave up, but then I bought the Bessette/Fischer book, and identifying mushrooms became not only possilbe, but fun. The photographs are terrific, great aids for identification and often beautiful as well. The keys for identifying mushrooms within a specific genus are very useful - no book has room to illustrate all species, but these keys allow identification of mushrooms that "nearly match" the illustrated species. The book is the most comprehensive guide to mushrooms found in northeastern North America that I have found. Some of the standard "North American" field guides are good, but they all contain a great many species not found in this part of the country, which doesn't leave enough room to cover all of the fungi species commonly found here. George Barron's and William Roody's regional guides are also excellent, but not quite as comprehensive. If you live in the northeastern U.S., this is the one Mushroom Field Guide that you can't do without!
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
MNNA is a very good book, and has the finest keys I have ever found in any work on mushrooms. However, I find its coverage of certain groups of fungi to be in want of more detail. For example, the avid Russula student will find that few species have been included. The book could use more information on various genera, especially those which are in need of detailed systematic analysis, and more comprehensive data on the taxonomy of included fungi, which has been very neglected. I hope that a future edition of this book may correct some of these problems. Nevertheless, I reccomend Mushrooms of Northeastern North America to all serious amateur mycologists, you will find it to be an indispensable reference.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must have supplement! July 26 2001
Format:Paperback
Alan Bessette is truly a great contributor to the field of mycology. Mushrooms of Northeastern North America is a fantastic book on its way to being the "bible" to species in the Northeast. A huge undertaking, Bessette does his best with a dichotomist key arrangement, making narrowing down the possibilities easier. Although aided by Fischers photographs, this guide is tremendously lacking quality, well organized, photographic detail. This book is not for the novice, as familiarity with mycological terms is necessary. I'm waiting for a new, up-to-date, thicker volume: MONNA revised.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The One Indispensable Guide to Mushrooms in the North East Feb. 10 2004
By Kathryn L. Evans - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I live in the NY Adirondack Mountains and have been collecting mushrooms for years, trying to identify them. I almost gave up, but then I bought the Bessette/Fischer book, and identifying mushrooms became not only possilbe, but fun. The photographs are terrific, great aids for identification and often beautiful as well. The keys for identifying mushrooms within a specific genus are very useful - no book has room to illustrate all species, but these keys allow identification of mushrooms that "nearly match" the illustrated species. The book is the most comprehensive guide to mushrooms found in northeastern North America that I have found. Some of the standard "North American" field guides are good, but they all contain a great many species not found in this part of the country, which doesn't leave enough room to cover all of the fungi species commonly found here. George Barron's and William Roody's regional guides are also excellent, but not quite as comprehensive. If you live in the northeastern U.S., this is the one Mushroom Field Guide that you can't do without!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the definitive volumes on northest mycoflora Aug. 24 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
MNNA is a very good book, and has the finest keys I have ever found in any work on mushrooms. However, I find its coverage of certain groups of fungi to be in want of more detail. For example, the avid Russula student will find that few species have been included. The book could use more information on various genera, especially those which are in need of detailed systematic analysis, and more comprehensive data on the taxonomy of included fungi, which has been very neglected. I hope that a future edition of this book may correct some of these problems. Nevertheless, I reccomend Mushrooms of Northeastern North America to all serious amateur mycologists, you will find it to be an indispensable reference.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have supplement! July 26 2001
By "decker56" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Alan Bessette is truly a great contributor to the field of mycology. Mushrooms of Northeastern North America is a fantastic book on its way to being the "bible" to species in the Northeast. A huge undertaking, Bessette does his best with a dichotomist key arrangement, making narrowing down the possibilities easier. Although aided by Fischers photographs, this guide is tremendously lacking quality, well organized, photographic detail. This book is not for the novice, as familiarity with mycological terms is necessary. I'm waiting for a new, up-to-date, thicker volume: MONNA revised.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but worst keys I've ever used - Get Arora's book instead April 25 2011
By Fungus Beetle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a useful volume, with beautiful pictures of a moderate diversity of the Northeastern fungi. However, after reading some of the other reviews here I feel compelled to say that this book doesn't hold a candle to David Arora's 'Mushrooms Demystified,' which has vastly superior keys and species coverage, even for mushroom ID in the northeast. I've used this book for years, but am sad to say that the keys presented in this volume are definitively the worst I've ever used for any taxon (mushroom or otherwise, and I have likely used hundreds over the years). Unfortunately this poor key structure seems to be an regrettable trend in all of Bessette's books that I have seen (to be honest, I really don't know why his coauthors ever let him write the keys). The photographs are beautiful, the species descriptions are generally good (though not as good as nor with the attention to look-alike species as Arora's), but the keys take forever and are almost unusable. Instead of presenting a straight-forward dichotomous key, the keys here are polytomous, a feature that already makes them less user-friendly. The first few couplets ('grouplets'?) are useful enough, but he soon degrades into describing every species in a full paragraph in the key. He lists about five or ten of these, followed by a 'none of the above' option, that takes the reader to the subsequent couplet/grouplet of more full-paragraph species descriptions. The result is something that is not a key at all, but a long list of species descriptions that the reader has to plow through, resulting in a keying process that takes twenty times longer than it should. If we wanted to identify a mushroom by using species descriptions, we may as well just read the book cover-to-cover than try to plow through the keys presented here. That said, this is a useful companion book. As I have mentioned, the photographs are beautiful (Bessette's are some of the best I've seen), and this volume works well in combination with Arora's book (which has beautiful keys, descriptions, and better species coverage, but is a bit lacking in color photographs). I don't think this book is worth the list price, but if you can get it on discount it's a useful complement. If you are limited to only one mushroom book (for anywhere in the US) I wholeheartedly recommend Arora's volume, and if you're looking for a well-photographed companion volume for it I would first recommend Roger Phillips' book, followed only then by this volume as a useful third.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive regional reference, fabulous index June 14 2006
By La Monte HP Yarroll - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is THE book on Northeastern Fungi. You probably don't want this for your first book on mycology, but if you have been studying mushrooms for a year or two and are looking for something a little meatier, this is a great choice.

The keys are comprehensive, and the index has the nice feature of listing mushrooms by their species epithet (the second half of the Latin name). This is particularly handy for finding fungi which have been moved from one genus to another.

Bessette includes plenty of microscopic details, though the keys do not generally require the use of a microscope or special chemicals.

The illustrations are really well done, with quite some attention paid to presenting diagnostic details in the photos. The illustrations and descriptive text are widely separated. I find this rather awkward, but this is only a bothersome quirk in an otherwise indispensible guide.

I do take this book into the field, but it is my primary reference for non-polypores in the lab.
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