Cornell University

Fungi in human culture

impatiens downy mildew, by M. Daughtrey

Hope for Impatiens

How a familiar garden flower, through sex, sheer luck, and the attention of one man, rose to a pinnacle of popularity only to be suddenly destroyed. All thanks to an unassuming downy mildew that was literally lurking in the shadows.

Eames Bog

The Cornell Hoot

On the origins and practice of the Cornell Hoot, a mycological finding tool. Executing the Cornell Hoot is sure to make you find more mushrooms, grow more hair, make more friends (of a certain kind), and stay safely found.

Exobasidium vaccinii on Azalea pericylmenoides

Azalea divinity

Sure, azaleas have pretty flowers. But who says gardens have to be about pretty flowers and tasty fruit? Cornell has one garden devoted to poisonous plants, and any mycologist-gardener might cherish a bed of rusty plants, smutted grasses, and these fantastic fungus-induced “apples.”

Mushrooms by Alan Weir from flickr

ZAP! Lightning, Gods, and Mushrooms

Everyone knows mushrooms pop up after thunderstorms, right? Japanese mushroom farmers sometimes deploy electric shocks to get their shiitake mushrooms to fruit. So, what would happen if you wandered around in the forest zapping the ground?

Lichens-TowerRd-feature

The Lichens of Tower Road

It’s possible to walk down a street and not see any fungi… for some people. CUP Herbarium Curator Scott LaGreca sees lichens wherever he goes. Here he talks about the tree-dwelling lichens along Cornell’s main thoroughfare, Tower Rd, and what they suggest about air quality on our upstate New York campus.

Rhizopus: bad hair day

Postal conks

The best gifts keep on giving. This artist’s conk (Ganoderma applanatum) came to me by post. It turned out to be quite literally full of surprises. Eleven unexpected organisms popped out of it: one other fungus, and ten fascinating beetles. Also, and this was really quite satisfying: when it arrived, I knew I had won the argument.

Spiral, by Paul McEuen

Fictional mycology

This week a fictional fungal villain is making life at Cornell pretty surreal. Paul McEuen’s new thriller, Spiral, has just been released, and not only is it set here, at Cornell, in Ithaca, and inside my Herbarium, it features a heroine who is inspired partly by, um, me!

Paul Stamets hunting Agarikon

Agarikon

The fungus Fomitopsis officinalis has a long history of use in North America and elsewhere, both as medicine and as a medium of ritualistic art. Read about Agarikon and its uses, and follow Fungi Perfecti President Paul Stamets on a successful expedition to find this rare mushroom.

Sacred mushrooms

Mushrooms as Sacred Objects in North America

Although surely many Native American peoples were experts on fungi, we have little knowledge of how they used them, particularly the more ephemeral mushrooms. Here’s a primer on three different bracket fungi (conks) used by some native peoples.

About

Most people don't pay much attention to fungi, which include things like mushrooms, molds, yeasts, and mildews. Here at Cornell we think they're pretty fascinating. In fact, even the most disgusting foot diseases and moldy strawberries are dear to our hearts. We'd like to talk to you about fungi, so that like us, you too can tell gross stories at the dinner table. Afterwards, maybe you'll notice some things you would have overlooked before, and we think this could be good for the planet.

Kathie T. Hodge, Editor

Beneath Notice, our book of borescopic mycology.

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