Dr. John Dawson,

Professor of Mathematics

Educational Background

Research Interests

Professional Activities

Extracurricular Interests

-Flute Performance
-Siberian Huskies



Amanita image

Once active as a birdwatcher, my interests in natural history are now focused primarily on mycology: the identification and photography of wild mushroom species, and the consumption of some that are edible.

For many years I have presented an annual program on mushrooms at Nixon County Park in Jacobus, Pa. I am an active member of the Eastern Penn Mushroomers, an affiliate of the North American Mycological Association, which sponsors lectures, workshops and local collecting forays.

Amanita mushroom

Bird's Nest image

Bird's Nest fungus



(A selective bibliography prepared by Dr. John Dawson)

Mushroom Identification:

David Largent, How to Identify Mushrooms to Genus, Vol I: Macroscopic Features, Mad River Press (Rte. 2, Box 151-B, Eureka, CA 95501), 1973. (paperback) An excellent book to acquaint the beginner with basic mushroom terminology and principles of identification. No color photos, but excellent line drawings. Other volumes (II through IV) cover field identification, microscopic features, and keys to families and genera.

Alan E. Bessette, Arleen R. Besette, and David W. Fischer, Mushrooms of Northeastern North America, Syracuse University Press, 1997. The most comprehensive guide for our area, but bulky to carry around. Lacks cross references between photos and species descriptions.

David Arora, Mushrooms Demystified, Ten Speed Press (P.O. Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707), 2nd ed., 1986. (paperback) Broad coverage of a great many species. Sound advice and good color photographs. Amusingly written. Too big for convenient use in the field, but very good for subsequent identification work at home and fun just to read.

Orson K. Miller, Jr., Mushrooms of North America, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1977. (softback) A very good field guide written by one of America's foremost mycologists. Somewhat more technical than Arora's book. Good color photos. Waterproof cover. Handy size for carrying along.

National Audubon Society, Pocket Guide to Familiar Mushrooms, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY) 1990. (small paperback) No keys and limited coverage, but excellent color photos of the mushrooms one is most likely to see.

Giovanni Pacioni and Gary Lincoff, Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mushrooms, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY), 1981. (paperback) Minimal keys, but good color photographs of a great many species, including many not illustrated elsewhere.

Helen V. Smith and Alexander H. Smith, How to Know the Non-Gilled Fleshy Fungi, Wm. C. Brown Co. (Dubuque, IA), 1973. (spiral-bound paperback) The best source for identifying mushrooms without gills, such as boletes, puffballs, morels, cup fungi, shelf fungi and stinkhorns -- species often given limited coverage in other guides. Line drawings, but no photos. Unfortunately, the keys and text are fairly technical.

Mushroom Toxicology:

Gary Lincoff and D.H. Mitchell, Toxic and Hallucinogenic Mushroom Poisoning, A Handbook for Physicians and Mushroom Hunters, Van Nostrand Reinhold (New York, NY), 1977. By far the most comprehensive and accurate compendium of information on mushroom toxins. Fascinating reading, despite its wealth of technical detail. Should be required reading for every would-be mycophagist (before the first collecting trip).

Mushroom Cookbooks:

Jack Czarnecki, Joe's Book of Mushroom Cookery, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1986. Gourmet mushroom recipes from what was America's most famous wild mushroom restaurant, Joe's, in Reading, PA. (The restaurant is now defunct, having closed in January of 1997. Jack has moved to Oregon and reopened there.)

Jane Grigson, The Mushroom Feast, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1975. Many good recipes, but a distinctly snobbish text, replete with pretentious French titles and terminology.

David W. Fischer and Alan E. Bessette, Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America: A Field-to-Kitchen Guide, University of Texas Press, 1992 (paperback). A combination field guide and cookbook, with some excellent recipes.

The Joys of Mushrooming:

Elio Schaechter, In the Company of Mushrooms: A Biologist's Tale, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1997. A delightful book, containing a wealth of mushroom lore.

Mushroom Photography:

Edward S. Matisoff, Mushrooms and Light: The Nature Photographer's Guide to Photographing Mushrooms (privately published by the author, 7584 Lemur Street, Ventura CA 93003), 1993. (50-page spiral-bound paperback) Contains many useful suggestions concerning equipment and lighting.

Using Mushrooms as Dyestuffs:

Miriam C. Rice, Mushrooms for Color, Mad River Press, Inc., (Rte. 2, Box 151-B, Eureka, CA 95501), 1980. (paperback)

Mushroom Web Sites:

mycoElectronica: A privately maintained British site with much useful information

Site of Taylor Lockwood, renowned mushroom photographer

There are many other mycological sites as well. Try searching with Yahoo or Web Crawler, or follow links from the sites above.

Amateur Mushroom Organization:

Eastern Penn Mushroomers. Conducts regular meetings in the winter and frequent forays during spring, summer and fall. $10 annual membership fee includes membership in NAMA as well. Web site: http://www.epennmushroomers.org/