Cornell University


Explore your world with tape

The man with the mouldy car needed an answer fast. It was not a matter of the tax value of the mould or the car, just that law required that the car be inspected. The unionists being unwilling, he would enter the car himself. What should he do? I had a vision of him removing the entire seat and hauling it to my lab, and then me trying to flatten it so it could be stored in our herbarium. But instead, I told him…

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.

Henningsomyces by Joe Warfel

Small Wonder

Upon lifting up a log, one often finds wiggly things, and they typically hog all the attention. But for the sharp-eyed, there are more subtle gifts. Lawrence Millman wrote this celebration of a delicately beautiful fungus you might find dangling under logs: Henningsomyces candidus. I wonder how many people in the world have ever seen it? Lawrence and I are fans of the small and odd, and Lawrence managed to sneak some into his splendid new mushroom guidebook, Fascinating Fungi of New England.

Pestalotiopsis spores

Moldy love song

Here’s a tip on a very fine new book, The Genera of Hyphomycetes (2011, CBS). It is a world-shaking new resource for those of us who like molds. I think the authors must be geniuses to have pulled this off, it is that amazing, just don’t drop it on your foot. Also a mild exhortation to get yourself a microscope so that you too can see all the little things that run the world.

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!

Panellus stipticus, by its own light

Evening glow

What better to find on your bedside table in the middle of the night than a glowing fungus? It’s Panellus stipticus, and it has talent. If you don’t live near me in the northeast, where all the glowing is going on, have a look at our movie.

Peregrine falcon

Of Fungus and Falcons

Sometimes I think fungi in the genus Aspergillus just have more get-up-and-go than other fungi. Some are good, and sure, some are evil — you just have to admire their audacity. Turns out one particular Aspergillus is a notorious enemy of birds, and can even take down a powerful raptor like a hawk or falcon in a matter of days. Read on for more about falconry and fungi in this post by Abby Duvall.

cheeky cheeky stinkhorn

A fungus walks into a singles bar

Dear Professor Hodge, please explain sexual compatibility in fungi. OK, here goes. I enlisted the help of a coauthor, and together we found this surprisingly difficult to write. Fungi are wondrously strange, and sometimes barely fathomable. And what could be more mysterious than sex? We’ve included a doozy of a video to improve your reading experience.

Percy the cat

Ringworm in Cats: Percy’s Case

Old and well-loved cats get infections sometimes. Here is the story of Percy, a cat who has battled several different attackers in the last little while: two fungi, a mystery cat, a virus, and a bacterium. He even generously shared one of them with his human family. But don’t worry, they’re all OK now.


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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