Cornell University


a fungus in amber

Paleomycology: Discovering the fungal contemporaries of dinosaurs

Fungi tend to be small, soft, and ephemeral — properties that don’t exactly help establish a strong presence in the fossil record. But they certainly have been around for a long time (perhaps 4 billion years?). Here we explore some of the fungi of the distant past, including some molds preserved perfectly in amber for tens of millions of years.

Beneath Notice

Beneath Notice

Our new book is now available! It’s a self-published catalog of our last two years of art shows, which featured the use of a borescope to get up close and personal with small fungi. The borescope gives a fabulous, bug’s eye view of small things in the field, at a scale more fitting to their small majesty than a squinty hand lens or a sober microscope. We think you’ll like the book.

Fungi of China

Homeward Bound: Fungi of China

The Fungi of China collection at the Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium has a poignant history. Rescued from destruction during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, many of its fragile specimens traveled by oxcart and by ship to the US, where we have been safeguarding them for about 70 years. Now we’ve divided them and will be sending the new duplicates back to the Herbarium of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is our gift to the people of China.

unsuspecting caterpillar

Entomophaga maimaiga – The caterpillar killer

Since we’d rather not let gypsy moth caterpillars eat the leaves off entire forests, we’re pretty happy about Entomophaga maimaiga, a fungus that attacks them. In this post we take a close-up, time lapse look at the devouring of a caterpillar by a fungus that is an effective agent of biological control.

puffball lad

Shots from the archive: puffball lad

We’ve got some impressive collections of old photographs here at Cornell. At the Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium, we have 60,000 or so. Our images are of fungi, plant disease, agricultural methods, plus mycologists and plant pathologists. You can browse a subset of our images online. Some would make good quirky art to hang in your apartment (try an archive search on ginseng, or potato)…


borescopic mycology

We’re so excited about small things, we devised a whole new way to look at them. ‘Beneath Notice’ was our 2009 art show, which hung at Mann Library’s 2nd floor gallery Jan 12 – Feb 27. It featured Kent Loeffler’s stupendous photographs of fungi, all taken with a borescope. This allows us to get all up close and personal with mushrooms and less-often-seen tiny fungi. As if that wasn’t enough, the photos were annotated with fungal outbursts by Kathie Hodge, and Kent’s famous time lapse videos were running on nearby hi-def monitors. Missed the show? Buy the catalog.

Goodbye Shiloh

Eulogy for a lost dog

Our guest Tami Mungenast shares the moving story of her dog Shiloh, who died of mushroom poisoning in 2008. Yes, dogs are just as susceptible to poisonous mushrooms as people–in Shiloh’s case a brown Galerina sp. in her yard was the culprit. Warning! Sad.

crucibulum world

Fungi on Science Friday!

Eyes tired from too much reading? Use your ears for a change to listen to Science Friday do fungi in a radio show called “Fungi: the good, the bad, and the edible.” The show features your humble editor, Kathie Hodge, along with mycologist and author David Fischer, and guests Kelli Hoover and Arturo Casadevall. We field calls about everything from foxfire to species concepts and the extraterrestrial origins of fungi(!).

foam from the stream

Fungi in streams: a leaf nightmare

The fungi that live in burbling streams are full of surprises. They’re shockingly pronged and elegant–not the kind of thing you’d expect to find in a spoonful of filthy-looking foam. And they’re surprisingly important as foundation members of aquatic ecosystems.


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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