Some mushrooms are prized for their culinary or medicinal value, whether thrown together in a sauté or foraged for the psychedelic properties that have earned certain species the nickname “magic mushrooms.” Others, often notoriously, can cause disease and even death in both plants and animals. But no matter the reputation of these reproductive fruiting bodies of fungi—each one a part of a much larger fungal community that spends most of its life underground—mushrooms are fascinating structures that have much to teach us.
Here at The New York Botanical Garden, we offer a variety of ways to learn about mushrooms, including classes on mushroom folklore, how to identify different species in the wild, and even how to grow and cook with them at home. In our NYBG Shop, you can purchase books and merch featuring mushrooms, not to mention plenty of other items related to plant life and botany. Our Mertz Library is home to a wide variety of illustrations and texts on mushrooms, including some from our historic collection, and if you’re interested in herbarium specimens, be sure to check out our herbarium stories for a behind-the-scenes look at these fascinating organisms.
Of course, one of the best ways to learn about mushrooms is to see them in person. You can find them growing in many locations across our 250-acre grounds throughout the year, whether you’re on a self-guided exploration of the Thain Forest or joining a mushroom hunting tour with an expert mycologist. So take some time to slow down, look around you, and discover the world of mushrooms for yourself!
At NYBG we have something for everything you want to know about mushrooms!
Mushroom Stories from the Archives
Magic Mushrooms to Zombies
Mushrooms provide a wide world of study and learning for scientists—from their psychedelic effects and value in medicinal teas to creating zombie ants and more.
Fungi of New York
Did you know there are at least 500 species of fungi which can be found in NYC? Almost eliminated in NYC before pollution regulations were enacted, today, lichens have recolonized the City with nearly 100 species spread throughout the five boroughs, acting as bio-indicators of improved air quality.
LuEsther T. Mertz Library
One of the the largest botanical, horticulture library’s in the world, Mertz Library contains a substantive collection on mycology, making it a principal facility for mycological research. Housing rare and modern texts from the 17–21st century, information about mushrooms can be found in the library and digitally through online consortiums, Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) and HathiTrust.
Image: Humongous Fungus, Written by Lynne Boddy; Illustrated by Wenjia Tang 2021