Mushrooms of North America

Forage for Fungi
a basket of wild mushrooms on the forest floor

My husband loves to hike mountains. Me? I love to stroll in the woods. To combine our shared passion for the outdoors, I thought why not learn what about the interesting things we might encounter during our hikes/strolls?

In the past, we trekked with a bird identification book. Instead of looking to the sky, I’m thinking we should turn our gazes to the earth.

National Audubon Society’s latest up-to-date guide, Mushrooms of North America ($39.95, Fieldstone Publishing, 2023), has caught my eye. This tome is impressively comprehensive (711 pages!), covering the mushrooms of the entire North American continent. Studying these pages provides a fascinating window into the wonderful world of mushrooms, and is probably the closest most of us will come to being a mycologist (that’s a scientist who works with fungi).

Mushrooms of North America begins with a brief introduction, including visual identification. After individual descriptions, there are write-ups of the various mushroom orders followed by a handy glossary and index.

More than 660 species are featured within this hefty book, and each is illustrated with multiple full-color photographs and detailed entries, including the mushroom’s habitat; look-alikes; range; and season. There are also descriptions of each one’s cap, gills, flesh, and taste (if applicable).

Conservation status is a welcome bonus in each entry. If, for example, you happen upon a western matsutake in Colorado, you’ll know you’ve made a special discovery as this species is commonly found on the West Coast.

I don’t see myself foraging in the woods for culinary mushrooms. Actually, this guide advises explorers to never consume found mushrooms without confidently identifying them with a spore print. Incidentally, this book teaches you to do that too.

My goal with this field guide is to have fun learning about what grows in the woods I find myself in.


Lisa Fabian

Contributing Editor

Lisa Fabian is an award-winning freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in the publishing industry. She's enjoyed covering topics as diverse as arts and crafts, boating, food, and health and wellness.