Alaska is a land of many diverse geographic regions and could easily be divided into a number of equally distinct states. Trying to identify to seemingly endless varieties of wild mushrooms found in Alaska, the Yukon and northern British Columbia generates the for several field guides on the subject. One handy reference that might be of interest to neophyte field mycologists is Harriette Parker’s Alaska’s Mushrooms – A Practical Guide. This is a small format guide containing numerous color photographs that could be easily slipped into the pocket or a day pack.
Harriette Parker is an Alaskan naturalist and authority on wild mushrooms of the north. Parker’s guidebook opens with tips on how to use her book, tools and supplies needed for hunting mushrooms in the wild, making sporeprints, useful advice on mushroom collecting safety, and protecting wild mushrooms as a natural resource.
Alaska’s Mushrooms is broken into sections describing general families of mushrooms: gilled mushrooms, shelf mushrooms, teeth mushrooms, coral mushrooms, puffballs, morels, and false morels. Each mushroom listing has color photograph of the subject, a narrative of it, its scientific name, potential search locations, identifying characteristics, possible look-alikes, tips for harvesting, food use of the mushroom and health warnings or cautions that the reader should carefully consider.
The guidebook ends with a section on preparing wild mushrooms for food use. Parker explains the food safety precautions to take with eating mushrooms that will be consumed immediately and preparing these destined longer term storage. She finishes with a number of mushroom recipes that look like they should be explored.
Alaska’s Mushrooms – A Practical Guide (ISBN 0882404539) is published by Alaska Northwest Books, an imprint of Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company and has a suggested list price of $12.95. It is part of the publisher’s Alaska Pocket Guide series of references. The guidebook contains additional reading resources and an index.
Copyright 2013 by Alan Sorum