Cornell University

small things

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.

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…

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.

Moldy bread is cool

There’s nothing more fascinating than watching molds grow in time lapse. Or is there? This student post describes the inner life of Rhizopus, a remarkably busy and exuberant genus of molds. It is probably eating something in your kitchen as we speak! Today we admire the magnificence of Rhizopus eating your lunch, and introduce its surprising and extraordinary sidekick.

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!

stumpy ooze

Tree slime, stump flux and microbial consortia

It’s Spring in the northern woods, so other-worldly orange and pink slime is oozing out of hardwood stumps. What could this possibly be? Let’s ask the Friday Afternoon Mycologist! Today he explores some of these weeping trees, and finds a thriving yeast jamboree. He teams up with Molecule Man to identify the suspects, and together they shed light on a neglected bit of forest ecology.

my hand lenses

lately in the public lens

I’m always surprised at how little most people know about fungi. As you know, I love fungi very much, and I also like to teach. So I often find myself giving talks to introduce people to the weird and cool things that fungi do, leading walks in the woods, or (ahem), editing a blog about them. Here is a short compilation of web-accessible popular lectures, interviews, and stuff I’ve done lately. Also, some bonus advice on hand lenses.

Narceus millipede

Small friends of fungi

An homage to the Little Things that run the world. Oh how we love them in all their unplumbed diversity! Here is a thoughtful reminder of the roles of the small and oft-overlooked members of the Dead Plants Society, courtesy of our many-legged guest, Bob Mesibov.


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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