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Often casually called "the Meadow Mushrooms," about 90% of Agaricus species actually reside in forest and other non-grassland habitats. All species exploit the partly decomposed remains of green plants. Some species are edible, even cultivated, while others are toxic. This volume, the result of 40 years of work by R. W. Kerrigan, is a monographic technical resource covering all that is currently known about Agaricus in North America. Authoritative while remaining accessible to the non-specialist, it evaluates Agaricus diversity in terms of living members of natural ecosystems, and as elements of a complex pattern of phylogenetic relationships. Apart from the more technical information, this illustrated volume could also serve as a field guide to the group. Wherever possible, explanations and examples of 'taxonomic' perspectives, practices, and decisions are provided for those readers interested in a deeper understanding of how modern mycology is actually undertaken. Includes keys, descriptions, photographic images, and habitat and use information.
Click here for the PDF of a book review by David Wasilewski in NJMA News 47:1.
Everyone in America knows the Common Cultivated Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) - it's as familiar as Cream of Mushroom soup. But its genus, the genus Agaricus, includes a great many wild mushrooms commonly seen in urban/suburban settings and nearby woods; and, as conspicuous as they often are, they have remained relatively unknown to us as species. For more than a century we have stumbled over trying to recognize them in a reliable, reportable, repeatable way. Now, at last, with Rick Kerrigan's magisterial monograph on the genus Agaricus in North America, many of our imponderables can be identified. We can learn to distinguish them by their smells, by their colors and color changes, their habitat and substrate preferences, their latitude and longitude, even their altitude requirements, and by their seasonality. We can apply chemical reagents to see color changes, use simple microscope techniques to I.D. some look-alikes, and even see how DNA sorts out otherwise recondite relationships. There are different kinds of keys to groups of species that offer us one way or another to identify our finds. There are a couple of hundred excellent photographs, as well as the descriptions of species, and especially helpful discussions on species and species complexes that Rick Kerrigan offers after studying this genus for over four decades. This book is now the standard text for identifying Agaricus in North America. Don't leave home without it.
Finally, after forty-five years of study, Richard Kerrigan has published his labor of love, Agaricus of North America. The introduction, intentionally designed to draw the reader in, begins with an ecological assessment of the genus, summarizes the role of Agaricus in commerce, encapsulates history and nomenclature, and finishes with a circumscription of the genus that includes macroscopic and microscopic features, ecological and geographical attributes, biochemical reactions (odor and color changes), and macrochemical tests. Kerrigan then leads the reader through a thorough synopsis of the sections and other major groups in Agaricus, keys (dichotomous and synoptic) and detailed descriptions that include synonymy, affinities to other groups, notable features, macroscopic and microscopic characters, color images, notes on habit, habitats and distributions, and, most importantly, a discussion which includes personal insights into names, nomenclature, lore and edibility. The treatise concludes with a summary of the contributions of Peck, Murrill, A.H. Smith, Isaacs, and Freeman to the knowledge of Agaricus in North America, including a frank account of their challenges and limitations, and a guide to literature that will fuel the interest of professional and citizen mycologist alike. While some may be disappointed that this memoir is neither a classic monograph nor a field guide in the traditional sense, Kerrigan has achieved his stated goal of providing a documented, accessible account of the biodiversity of Agaricus as a component of natural ecosystems while exposing the complexity of phylogenetic relationships within the genus and encouraging readers to further investigate the genus on their own.
A significant and much needed contribution to sorting out the nearly 200 species of Agaricus found in this region. Before this monograph, it was difficult, if not impossible to identify accurately many collections of Agaricus that I have accumulated over the past 40 years of biodiversity work in North America, including the Caribbean region. The book is well illustrated with color images and full technical descriptions, including keys and phylogenetic trees. It will become an invaluable identification manual for taxonomist, ecologists, foresters and naturalists throughout North America who work with species of Agaricus.
A major contribution to North American agaricology, Agaricus of North America is the result of 45 years dedicated to the study of the genus Agaricus. Richard Kerrigan has produced a modern authoritative work on a difficult but important and common genus. Complete with extensive introductory chapters, keys, excellent descriptions, and photographic illustrations, this monograph belongs in the collection of every professional and amateur mycologist interested in the genus Agaricus.
Richard W. Kerrigan became interested in Agaricus in 1971, while an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A ubiqitous poisonous Agaricus growing there, superficially resembling the edible "Meadow Mushroom" Agaricus campestris, proved impossible to identify using contemporary publications. This toxic species later turned out to be afflicted with a series of taxonomic problems. During his graduate study of Agaricus, under the mentorship of Harry Thiers at San Francisco State University (M.A. awarded 1982), he ultimately identified it to be Agaricus californicus, a species that had vanished from the literature for the better part of the 20th century. This particular species is now lectotypified in this volume. In 1989 he was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he worked with Ian Ross, emphasizing experimental molecular methods to delimit species and establish relationships in Agaricus. A postdoctoral fellowship with James Anderson and Paul Horgen at the University of Toronto, Erindale, focused on gene mapping, population biology and germ plasm resource assessment in wild and cultivated Agaricus bisporus, the "Button Mushroom." This work led to an appointment in 1991 with Sylvan, Inc., the world's leading producer of cultivated mushroom spawn, where work on breeding improved strains of cultivated mushrooms continues today. Dr. Kerrigan has held the position of Director of Research, U.S.A., with Sylvan since 1993. His study of the diversity, taxonomy, systematic and phylogeny of wild species of Agaricus continues as a separate, independent area of research now extending over 45 years. Richard W. Kerrigan's Author Page