top of page
The Allure of Fungi
by Alison Pouliot

Although relatively little known, fungi provide the links and flows between the terrestrial organisms and ecosystems that underpin our functioning planet.

The Allure of Fungi presents fungi through multiple perspectives – those of mycologists and ecologists, foragers and forayers, naturalists and farmers, aesthetes and artists, philosophers and Traditional Owners. It explores how a history of entrenched fears and misconceptions about fungi has led to their near absence in Australian ecological consciousness and biodiversity conservation.

Through a combination of text and visual essays, the author reflects on how aesthetic, sensate experience deepened by scientific knowledge offers the best chance for understanding fungi, the forest and human interactions with them.


• An interdisciplinary exploration of fungi, their ecological significance and relationships with different cultures

• Engaging personal anecdotes take readers on a journey of discovery into the world of fungi and fungus enthusiasts

• Evocative text and stunning macrophotography are combined in an amalgam of history, science and art.

About the Author: Alison Pouliot is a natural historian who is passionate about fungi. She moves between northern and southern hemispheres to have two autumns each year, guaranteeing a double dose of fungi. Her extraordinary photographs reflect her research on the ecology and conservation of fungi. In this book she documents a forgotten corner of the natural world that is both beguiling and fundamental to life.

Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

Publication Date: September 2018

Further information and orders:

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – An introduction to entangled worlds Beyond mushrooms to mycelium Thinking, un-thinking, re-thinking fungi Fungal places – from Down Under to the Swiss Alps Seeking fungi What’s inside? Photo essay - The mycelial matrix

Chapter 2 – Meeting mushrooms First fungal acquaintances Describing the undefinable Biological umbrellas From goblets to lattice balls Lichenised life on the edge Extremist specialists What fungi do – alliance as norm Rethinking parasites

Fungal rotters Photo essay - Endless forms most bizarre

Chapter 3 – Life in the subterrain Different hemispheres, different fungi Undesirable dwellings – dirt, litter and dung In not on Litter and literacy Disco in a cow pat A cargo of the uncanny Displaced fungi Retreating underground Photo essay - Fungal grub and fungal havens

Chapter 4 – A stubbly bun skirmish Mushrooming from shady obscurity From moushrimpes to mucerons Of toads and toadstools Articulating fungi Idiomatic mushrooms Ergonomic fungi A meander of mycelia Words to conserve Metaphorical mushrooms Re-chanting the fungal lexicon Photo essay - Biological umbrellas

Chapter 5 – Wicked wild mushrooms – a morality tale Thievish and voracious beggars – origin myths Rotting and disgusting – unsettling traits Fairy cakes and trompettes de la mort The death cap arrives in Australia Sniffing out safety – toying with toxic mushrooms Indeterminate and morphologically bizarre Trouble from elsewhere – conservation and invaders Photo essay - Recycling worlds

Chapter 6 – Organising fungi The last of the natural historians The desire to divide Bounded and boundless – individuality and plurality Why names matter Naming and claiming – scientific and vernacular names Tallying fungi What makes a mushroom? Photo essay - Undersides

Chapter 7 – Knowing fungi otherwise A farmer’s way of knowing Aboriginal knowing Feeling like a mushroom – sensory knowing Fine-tuning to fungi Fungal olfaction – reigniting smell Getting back in touch Slow motion mushrooms Photo essay - Collecting

Chapter 8 – Foraging and foraying Train-stopping mushrooms Fungologists seeking funguses – foraying for fungi

bottom of page