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Title: Conspectus of World Ethnomycology: Fungi in Ceremonies, Crafts, Diets, Medicines, and Myths

item Dugan, Frank

Submitted to: American Phytopathological Society Press
Publication Type: Monograph
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2010
Publication Date: 6/27/2011
Citation: Dugan, F.M. 2011. Conspectus of World Ethnomycology: Fungi in Ceremonies, Crafts, Diets, Medicines, and Myths. American Phytopathological Society Press. 151 pp.

Interpretive Summary: Conspectus of World Ethnomycology is a concise reference manual for the history and scope of ethnomycology. The discipline has evolved from a relatively narrow focus on use of psychoactive fungi in indigenous (usually tribal) cultures, to the broader uses of fungi in food, medicine, crafts and folklore by all peoples world-wide. Currently the discipline emphasizes edible fungi (both mushrooms and micro-fungi, the latter especially used in fermented foods and beverages) and fungi with medicinal applications. The Conspectus provides anthropological or sociological contexts for the uses of hundreds of fungal species, whose scientific names are indexed and with bibliographic citations provided. Pertinent fungal germplasm is specified by accession number(s) in USDA-ARS and other microbial germplasm collections (when susceptible to growth on laboratory culture media), or characterized by natural habitat. Evidence is adduced for the primary role of women ("wise-women" - "herb-women" - "root-women") of pre-modern Europe as conduits for ethnobotanical knowledge transmitted to Carolus Clusius and Franciscus van Sterbeeck, two men widely regarded as the founders of scientific mycology.

Technical Abstract: This review, encompassing folk usage of fungi world-wide, represents the perspective of a specialist in germplasm conservation and research. It catalogs the scientific names of fungi used for food, medicine and other miscellaneous applications by indigenous peoples, peasant farmers, hunter-gatherers, and other peoples commonly referred to as "folk" in ethnographic literature. The origins of the discipline of ethnomycology are sketched, and an argument is made for the origins of scientific mycology from the herb-wives and other "wise-women" of pre-modern Europe. The evolution of ethnomycology is traced from a focus on "entheogenic fungi" to broader folk practices and applications. Separate chapters provide synopses of the most important groups and species of fungi used for food, medicine or in craft production on each habitable continent or major geographic region. For each such geographic region, a sampling of folklore pertinent to fungi is provided. A work of this size cannot be completely comprehensive, but sufficient literature is cited to guide readers toward in situ and ex situ sources of fungal germplasm, to appreciation of folk uses ("primitive" biotechnology), and other anthropological aspects involving the fungal kingdom. Multiple instances are provided for the cultivation or harvest of edible or medicinal fungi, especially when such activities sustain seasonally- or under-employed people, e.g., Roma in Europe, certain immigrant groups in North America, or peasant farmers in various geographic regions.