Mushroom Literature

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

mushroom literature has distinctive features which deserve mention, not least the fact that by comparison with other kinds of plant life it is of very recent origin.

To be sure, fungi were mentioned by classical authors; but their nature was not understood. The fact that the fruiting bodies (the part of the plant which is observed, gathered, and eaten) spring up so quickly led early authors such as Dioscorides to produce fanciful theories about spontaneous generation. (These ideas lingered on well into medieval times and beyond. Lyly, writing in the 16th century, could still declare that snails crept out of their shells, turned into toads, and then, feeling the need of something to sit upon, fashioned toadstools for themselves.)