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Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard: The Mysterious World of Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycologists

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By: Nicholas P Money(Author)

208 pages, b/w photos, illustrations

Oxford University Press

Paperback | Apr 2004 | #239872 | ISBN: 0195171586
Available for pre-order: Details
NHBS Price: £12.99 $17/€15 approx
Hardback | Sep 2002 | #134662 | ISBN: 0195154576
Out of Print Details

About this book

Stinkhorns, puffballs, the "corpse finder", deadly Galerina, Satan's bolete, birch conks, black mold, the old man of the woods – the world of fungi is infinitely varied and not a little weird. Now, in Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard, Nicholas Money introduces readers to a dazzling array of fungi, from brewer's yeast and Penicillium to the highly lethal death cap. We learn of Madurella, which can erode bones until they look moth-eaten; Cordyceps, which wracks insects with convulsions, kills them, then sends a stalk out of the insect's head to release more infectious spores; and Claviceps, the poisonous ergot fungus, which causes hallucinations.

Money also showcases the lives of famed mycologists – including Reginald Buller who wore horse blinders as he walked to work, the better to study luminescent fungi in his dark lab, and Charles Tulasne, the Audubon of fungi, whose illustrations of specimens border on art. And he recounts his own childhood introduction to fungi in Mr. Bloomfield's orchard, where trees and fruit were devoured by a rogue's gallery of bitter rot, canker, rust, powdery mildew, rubbery wood, and scab. Replete with historical photographs and simple yet effective illustrations, told with a refreshing sense of humor,Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard will fascinate anyone interested in the natural world.

"A companionable foray into the realm of stinkhorns, black mold, yeast, and even Malassezia, the dandruff-related fungus that Head & Shoulders shampoo is designed to combat. Money is an English-born mycologist who has spent his life uncovering the secrets and lore of fungi, including varieties that thrive in solid granite, feed on human flesh, assist in crime-scene investigations, and, as in the case of a particular armillaria covering twenty-two hundred acres in Oregon, grow to become the largest organisms on earth."
The New Yorker

"A forest carpeted with mushrooms; dandruff; athlete's foot; and killer diseases that attack the lungs and nervous system all come under Money's expert scrutiny as he reveals the realm of fungi in all its amazing diversity. Assuredly fascinating and highly entertaining, Money's chronicle boasts an inimitable style that mixes up factbased information and creative analogies. Stories of scientists such as A. H. R. Bullet, who recorded his discoveries in countless volumes, together with Money's curious observations – such as his attentive look at black mold growing on window frames and contemplation of the realities of flesh-penetrating organisms that do great bodily harm [...] Money's writing is accommodating and personal, with occasional chummy asides. Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard can be recommended to all nature lovers, regardless of background, who want to know more about fungi."

"Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard drives home the fundamental lesson of biology: life is weird. Fungi and animals are kissing cousins on the tree of life, and yet it would be hard to imagine creatures more alien and bizarre than the mushrooms and molds that Nicholas Money introduces us to. Best of all, he introduces them with wit and insight, making his book a pleasure."
– Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex and Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea

"A book for anyone who has ever marveled at a mushroom in the lawn, or shuddered at a tale of intractable fungal infection. Fungi are Nik Money's passion, and he presents them with the empathy of the naturalist and the erudition of the scholar. At once informative and entertaining, he has produced a splendid read."
– Franklin M. Harold, author of The Way of the Cell

"Every major group of living organisms has its own fascination and enticement, although some of us reckon this to be particularly true for the fungi. Money's book substantiates this point with clarity, wisdom, and elegance. To be savored by beginners and experts alike, this book is a safe-conduct to the world of fungal biology and the manifold roles that fungi play in human affairs."
– Elio Schaechter, Author, In the Company of Mushrooms

"A witty and wonderful book. In lively prose, Nik Money tells of tramping through the woods in search of mold hermaphrodites, or to stick thermometers into wild mushrooms so as to measure their internal temperature. He also presents lurid descriptions of fungal diseases. The enzymatic vomit of one species can make your hair fall out; the cells of another species cement scalp grease into dandruff. Spores of a fungus that loves bird droppings can get into your lungs and turn your body into soup. I've never read better descriptions of the complicated sex lives and life cycles of fungal pathogens. This book should be required reading for anyone fascinated by the natural world."
– Joan W. Bennett, Editor-in-Chief of Mycologia


1: Offensive Phalli and Frigid Caps
2: Insidious Killers
3: What Lies Beneath
4: Metamorphosis
5: The Odd Couple
6: Ingold's Jewels
7: Siren Songs
8: Angels of Death
9: Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard


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Nicholas P. Money is Professor of Botany and Western Program Director at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He has studied fungal growth and reproduction for more than 30 years and has authored six books, including Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard: The Mysterious World of Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycologists (OUP, 2002), Mushroom (OUP, 2011) described by Nature magazine as a 'brilliant scientific and cultural exploration', and The Amoeba in the Room: Lives of the Microbes (OUP, 2014).

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