Approximately 75 percent of all fungi that have been described to date belong to the phylum Ascomycota. They are usually referred to as Ascomycetes and are commonly found and collected by mushroom enthusiasts. Ascomycetes exhibit a remarkable range of biodiversity, are beautiful and visually complex, and some, including morels and truffles, are highly prized for their edibility. Many play significant roles in plant ecology because of the mycorrhizal associations that they form. Thus it is remarkable that no book dedicated to describing and illustrating the North American Ascomycetes has been published in over sixty years.
Filling the gap between technical publications and the limited representation of Ascomycetes in general mushroom field guides, Ascomycete Fungi of North America is a scientifically accurate work dedicated to this significant group of fungi. Because it is impossible to describe and illustrate the tens of thousands of species that occur in North America, the authors focus on species found in the continental United States and Canada that are large enough to be readily noticeable to mycologists, naturalists, photographers, and mushroom hunters. They provide 843 color photographs and more than 600 described species, many of which are illustrated in color for the first time. While emphasizing macroscopic field identification characteristics for a general audience, the authors also include microscopic and other advanced information useful to students and professional mycologists. In addition, a color key to the species described in this book offers a visual guide to assist in the identification process.
Michael W. Beug is a mycologist, environmental chemist, and Professor Emeritus at Evergreen State College. He is on the editorial board of Fungi magazine, and his mushroom photographs have appeared in over thirty books and articles. He is coauthor of MatchMaker, a free online mushroom identification program covering over 4,000 taxa of fungi. He lives in Husum, Washington.
Alan E. Bessette is a mycologist and distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology from Utica College of Syracuse University. He has published numerous professional papers in the field of mycology and has authored more than twenty books. He lives in St. Marys, Georgia.
Arleen R. Bessette is a psychologist, mycologist, and botanical photographer. She has authored or coauthored several scientific papers and fourteen books, has won numerous awards for her photography, and teaches classes on mycology and the culinary aspects of mycophagy. She lives in St. Marys, Georgia.
"This is an exciting work and one that is very much needed. There is no [other] contemporary general book on Ascomycetes of North America. And there is no book for North America with good photographs. This book will be welcomed by amateur mycologists worldwide and will be useful for professional mycologists as well. It will definitely increase interest in Ascomycetes because it will now be possible to identify many species."
—Rosalind Lowen, Ph.D., author of more than twenty articles on Ascomycetes and discoverer of several new species
"The variety of fungi found in the ascomycetes is truly astounding. Cup fungi with eyelashes (Scutellinia scutellata), saddle fungi (Hellvella), and stalked cups (Sarcoscypha occidentalis). there are extensive sections on hypogeous ascos (truffles!) and fungi that grow on insects (Cordyceps). And who knew there were so many types of morels?!"
—New Jersey Mycological Association Newsletter
"Michael Beug, professor emeritus at Evergreen State University, has just come out with a new book on Ascomycetes, which is a diverse fungal phylum that includes morels and cup fungi."
"This is a heavy, bigger format that far exceeds the coverage of anything previously published for the ascomycete fungi. Beautiful color images! Easy to read and understand text! Stunning microscopic color habit photographs! Easy to use picture keys to different ascomycete groups! A bargain basement price! A special book that falls in the category of “once in a lifetime”! A much needed book that fills a fungal niche vacant for a long time!"
—Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas