In this guide it is assumed that you have no formal training in mycology but wish to ‘have a go‘ collecting and identifying four groups of fungi which are new to you. It is daringly assumed that you will then become enthusiastic enough to want to understand more about them from books and meeting other mycologists. Most of this guide has been drafted from letters written by the author to correspondents and callers over the years enclosing ‘spots on leaves’ for identification. The rest is really an account of the author’s everyday methods in naming fungi on green leaves near his home. Under the microscope the sheer beauty of microscopic fungi on living green leaves is such that no apology is needed for spending time on their close study. It is in the hope of encouraging such studies that this guide has been produced.
This guide is intended for use on British wild plants. Of course there are practical reasons for getting to know fungi on garden and farm plants. Such practical identiﬁcation work is of immense importance for food crops in a world where millions are starving (See Chapter 10) but very little is known of the occurrence and distribution of fungi in these four groups on wild plants in Britain. Over large areas they have never been recorded, and it is probable that new ones await discovery. This study will certainly meet the injunction of the British Mycological Society’s motto ‘Recognosce notum, ignotum inspice’ – recognise the known, greet the unknown.
The four groups dealt with here are
– Peronosporales: Downy Mildews (only the family Peronosporaceae is dealt with) in the subdivision Mastigomycotina.
– Erysiphales: Powdery Mildews, in the subdivision Ascomycotina.
– Ustilaginales: Smuts, in the subdivision Basidiomycotina.
– Uredinales: Rusts, also in the Basidiomycotina.
After this booklet had been prepared, amateurs asked for appendices 1 to 4, giving more details about the 4 groups than was originally intended by the author. These should be 'mulled over' as your collecting proceeds and are not intended in any sense to inhibit complete beginners.