Cornell University

plant disease

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.

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.”

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)…

fly speck

Supermarket Mycology. Flyspeck disease of apples

People get fussy about their apples, and tend to reject them if they’re bruised, or have nasty fungal lesions on them. But flyspeck is a subtle disease, and you’ve probably eaten it many times. I have, and I’m none the worse for it. Here we visit two different apple diseases, flyspeck and sooty blotch, in full rotating glory.

strawberries

When strawberries go bad

What could be better than succulent fruit, rotting in time lapse? And doesn’t everyone want to know more about the fungi that rot strawberries? These are rhetorical questions.

CUP 25787

Something funny in the herbarium

You never know what you’ll stumble across in the herbarium. It’s a treasure trove of irreplaceable specimens, undescribed species, and occasionally, jokes.

is that a sheep?

Mystery liverwort fungus, chapter 3

What could it be, this liverwort thing? Has anyone ever seen this before? FAM pursues the fungus through the musty dusty literature and the well-stocked but torturous passageways of his own brain. Finally, the magical powers of Santa Claus are invoked.

what the?

Mystery liverwort fungus, chapter two

Part 2 in FAM’s series on the mysterious liverwort fungus. What the heck is this? Mycology is hard.

club root

Cabbage monstrosities

The things that were once called Fungi but aren’t anymore are legion. Here’s one of them, a little swimmy thing that causes clubroot of cabbage. It gives cabbage monstrously clubbed roots, and as a bonus, acts as a vector for other diseases. Although we love its monstrous cruelty, we have banished it from the kingdom of Fungi. Be gone!

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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