Fungi Treasure: Chinese and American Edible Mushroom Treasures
by Mo-Mei Chen
, University and Jepson Herbaria, University of California, Berkeley

Preface to Fungi Treasure

More than 1,800 years ago, during the East Han Dynasty in China, people began to discover and use wild fungi for its unique edible and medicinal properties. Currently, more than 120 thousand species of fungi have been described in the natural world, from mushrooms with large fruiting bodies that comprise more than 6,000 species to more than 2,000 edible species.

Fungi Treasure is a comprehensive monograph of wild and cultivated edible mushrooms in China and America. In twelve volumes, it is the first version in English that introduces readers to identify all delicious species and 210 wild species, and to cultivate 50 various edible and medicinal species. It delves into depth about the species’ identity (morphological and molecular phylogenetic), geographic distribution, medicinal values, and includes the edible fungi population of more than 200 mushroom species in the Northern Hemisphere Temperate Zone.

Volume I is an introduction about how non-mycologists can learn the wild edible mushroom collection and identification. It goes from the basics, such as “what is a fungus” and what are its morphological structures, to the systematic classification of edible fungal genus. The book mainly uses a key that classifies the fungi by their edibility genus. There are long-term extensive collections of pictures that help to visualize the differences between genus and species’ strains.

From Volume II to Volume V, the book discusses the identity, morphology, geographic distribution, medicinal value, and common use of wild edible mushroom species in North America and various regions of East Asia. The significance of these four volumes is that since these fungi are wild, their gene pools are isolated to their strain’s geological origin. Volume II includes 38 species native to Northeast China. Volume III contains 58 species found in Yunnan and Tibetan regions of China. Volume IV includes 49 species of wild edible mushrooms found in California. Lastly, Volume V consists of 40 species that occur in five forest ecosystems inland of Alaska.

Volume VI highlights the principles for cultivating edible mushrooms. It emphasizes the medicinal value of fungi, cultivation requirements of fungi, and specific cultivation techniques of individual groups.

Volumes VII to XII provide a detailed, encyclopedic look at the cultivation of various common edible mushrooms using different cultivation techniques. Volume VII discusses the cultivation of medicinal fungi, such as Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi), Cordyceps sinensis (Dong Chong Xia Cao), and Gloeostereum incarnatum (Yu Er). Volume VIII includes species that are traditionally cultivated, such as Lentinula edodes (Shitake), Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane), Dictyophora indusiata (Bamboo Skirt Fungus), and Grifola frondosa (Maitake). Volume IX focuses on the cultivation of industrialized fungi in America including Agaricus bisporus (White Button Mushroom), Agaricus blazei (Brazilian Fungus), and Morchella elata (Black Morel). Volume X has six gourmet species that are cultivated under modern techniques in jars and are highly commercialized. They are often used in fine dining restaurants and found in supermarkets. Volume XI is about taming mushrooms in order to make wild mushrooms cultivatable.

Last but not least, Volume XII is a collection of references, an index, and a glossary. It includes references of related articles and books, an index of 600 edible mushroom species in China and America that inventories the edibility, medicinal values, anti-cancer properties, mycorrhiza, and domestication in an easy to understand scientific format, and a glossary of terms in both English and Chinese.

The Fungi Treasure is a useful and informative book that introduces a lesser known delicacy, mushrooms. In fact, in East Asia, mushrooms were used as both food and medicine for over two thousand years. Most mushroom species can be eaten daily to prevent illnesses. With this English edition, we hope to demonstrate that mushrooms as both delicacy and medicine can be used more widely in America.

The volumes will be available as eBooks (for printed volume inquiries, please email