Fungi can appear anywhere, from desert dunes to frozen tundra, and create anew from rotting matter. They can invade bodies and thoughts; they can live between our toes or between our floorboards; they are unwelcome intruders or vastly expensive treats; they are symbols of both death and eternal life. But despite their familiar presence, there's still much we don't know about these secretive life forms.
In this illuminating book, Aliya Whiteley delves into everything from cellular makeup to the fascinating ways fungi interact with their surroundings and other species, as well as the many varied roles they've played in our own civilization. The vast potential of these understudied organisms is still untapped; though long used as a source of food and medicine, they could also hold the key to a variety of scientific advances, from agriculture to environmental innovations.
The Secret Life of Fungi is a glimpse into their incredible, surprising and dark world: a lyrical tour through the eruption, growth and decay under our feet, overhead, and even inside us.
ELLIOT & CLARK PUBLISHING
Country of Publication:
06 January 2021
Contents; Introduction ix; Erupt; 1 To Name, To Know 3; 2 A Small Field 9; 3 The Common Mushroom 17; 4 Forays and Feasts 23; 5 Learn, Carry, Collect 27; 6 Saviours 33; 7 Fruiting Cities 39; 8 Weak Seeds Need Strong Friends 45; 9 Cryptic Clues 51; 10 Blanket Coverage 55; 11 Slow Dancers, Thrown High 59; Spread; 1 Nosing 65; 2 Spire 71; 3 The Giant 75; 4 Walking the Floor 81; 5 Old Stones 85; 6 Under Alice 91; 7 Expansions 95; 8 Once Upon a Beetle 99; 9 Seven Ways to Survive 105; 10 Stowaways of the Space Age 117; Decay; 1 Gathering the Dead 125; 2 The Big Stick 129; 3 Fire, Faith and Gangrene 137; 4 Where the Rule Bends 143; 5 Killer Club 147; 6 Underground Visions 151; 7 To Live and Die in Fungi 157; 8 Grasp 163; 9 Onwards, Downwards, Upwards 167; Afterword 171; Dramatis Fungi 175; Bibliography 177; A Reading List of Fungal Fiction 185; Acknowledgements 187; Index 189
Aliya Whiteley grew up in North Devon and developed an early passion for walking and observing nature. Today she writes about the natural world for Mental Floss and in her fiction, which has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke award, among others. Whiteley's novella, The Beauty, depicted a future world in which a fungus interacts with humanity and creates a new form of life, leading readers all over the world to send her photographs and articles relating to mushrooms. Her new novel, Greensmith (May 2020), deals with seed banks and viruses, and the current global threat to diversity. She was formerly the Deputy Editor of Explore - a magazine that tackles one subject in depth per issue, such as dinosaurs, the solar system or indeed plant-life. She walks through the woods and fields around her home in West Sussex every day, taking inspiration from the hidden worlds around her.
Reviews for The Secret Life of Fungi: Discoveries From a Hidden World
'The Secret Life of Fungi is a brave foray into the Third Kingdom - exploring the otherness of these life forms, and examining those points at which they impinge on the lifecycle of humankind.' - Linden Hawthorne, author and horticulturist ' Accessible, inviting and revelatory... Aliya Whiteley animates the hidden world of fungi in prose as rich and beautiful as the strange organisms she turns her attention to.' - Alice Tarbuck, author of A Spell in the Wild