Cornell University


The answers to questions frequently asked…

Who are you people?
Please see our staff manifestos.

What are the stinky and obscene mushrooms growing in my yard?
Tom Volk has already answered this question in eloquent detail. Although you will find little sympathy on his pages, do have a look for an introduction to the hideously fantastic stinkhorns. If it’s not a stinkhorn, see if you can ID it on this Urban Mushrooms site. The short answer to your underlying question? Pave your yard.

Can you identify this mushroom/mold for me?
It’s very hard to identify mushrooms from photographs alone. I often want to understand things like how the gills are attached, the color of the spore print, the aroma, the substrate, the geographic location, and geeky things like whether there is an amyloid reaction in Melzer’s reagent. Because of all this, and because my mushroom ID expertise is confined to my own bioregion, I cannot offer edibility information based on emailed photos. What about molds? It’s usually downright impossible to identify molds from a photograph, no matter how beautifully luxuriant they are. Your best bet is to find a local expert who can help you… No, actually your best bet is to slowly learn about fungi so that you can have the unique pleasure of identifying them yourself. NAMA provides a listing of mushroom clubs across North America. Find one in your neck of the woods and sign up.

Please, tell me about mycology at Cornell
At Cornell, people who work on fungi can be found all over the place, but the greatest concentration of fungal biologists is in the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology–turns out that most plant diseases are caused by fungi (voracious little things). If you’re a Cornell undergrad, you’ll find most fungusy classes through our department, including:

We have a lot of other fungusy classes too, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, which you can explore through Cornell’s Courses of Study. The long history of fungal studies at Cornell makes it an excellent place for fungus-lovers. Just now I can think of Cornellians working on fungi through the departments of Horticulture, Plant Breeding, Natural Resources, Entomology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and at the affiliated labs of the Agricultural Research Service and the Boyce Thompson Research Institute.

How can I learn mycology without coming to Cornell?
I am not offended by your impudent question. I suppose you might find a mycology class at your local college (if you’re lucky). You could join a mushroom club (especially if you’re hungry. A club is a good way to find others who might usefully agree that something you’re about to eat isn’t fatally poisonous). Get a couple of good field guides. A subscription to Mushroom, the Journal and/or Fungi Magazine seems in order, as does membership in NAMA. If you eschew the plebian pastimes of NAMA in favor of the fascinatingly abstruse, join the Mycological Society of America (really). You can read about fungi and their hideous kin all over the web, and I hesitate to recommend a specific place, but check out our Links department.

Why can’t I leave a sagacious and enlightening comment?
I’ve closed older posts to comments because of the deluge of comment spam. You’ll find too, that if your comment on a recent post includes a link to a commercial site, your comment will be snuffed out.

Can I copy your images/text/awesome look?
Well I’m flattered. Most of this blog is covered under a kind-hearted Creative Commons license that actually encourages sharing. A few images are copyrighted as noted in individual blog posts. Gosh, I WANT you to spread the word about fungi and all that. But please respect our license, and don’t neglect proper attribution and a friendly link back. I’d LOVE for you to contact me, retrospectively is fine, about any materials you use. It helps me justify my existence here to know that someone is benefiting from all our hard work.

Love you, mushroom people!


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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