About MushroomExpert  

Michael Kuo

Publications as sole or first author:

Morels (2005, University of Michigan Press)

100 Edible Mushrooms (2007, University of Michigan Press)

Morchella tomentosa, a new species from western North America, and notes on M. rufobrunnea (2008, Mycotaxon 105: 441–446)

100 Cool Mushrooms (2010, University of Michigan Press)

Taxonomic revision of true morels (Morchella) in Canada and the United States (2012, Mycologia 104: 1159–1177)

Studies of North American macrofungi, 1. Validation of Lactarius rubidus comb. nov. and Leccinellum quercophilum sp. nov. (2013, Mycotaxon 124: 323–332)

Mushrooms of the Midwest (2014, University of Illinois Press)

Contemporary documentation of the rare eastern North American species Inocybe insignis (2015, MycoKeys 11: 23–31)

Revision of leccinoid fungi, with emphasis on North American taxa, based on molecular and morphological data (2020, Mycologia 112: 197–211)

Publications as coauthor:

Phylogeny and historical biogeography of true morels (Morchella) reveals an early Cretaceous origin and high continental endemism and provincialism in the Holarctic (O'Donnell et al. 2011, Fungal Genetics and Biology 48: 252–265)

Amanita thiersii is a saprotrophic fungus expanding its range in the United States (Wolfe et al. 2012, Mycologia 104: 22–33)

Rocky Mountain Mushrooms by Habitat (Cripps et al. 2017, University of Illinois Press)

New species and records of Tricholoma sections Genuina and Megatricholoma from Costa Rica and the United States (Ovrebo et al. 2021, Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 15: 545–557)

A phylogeny for North American Mallocybe (Inocybaceae) and taxonomic revision of eastern North American taxa (Matheny et al. 2023, Fungal Systematics and Evolution 12: 153–201)


Michael Kuo

I'm Michael Kuo, the developer of MushroomExpert.Com. I'm a retired English teacher and an amateur mycologist, based in Ohio.

Many years ago, desperate to find morels, I might have offered my students a few pages of reduced term paper length if they were able to provide me with access to privately-owned, morel-producing woods. This might have led to my students discussing their English teacher's mushrooms with their land-owning parents and grandparents (and aunts and uncles, neighbors, and, in one case, the sheriff). Some of these kind folks might have started calling me "the mushroom expert," often with an eye roll or air quotes—and, often, in earnest, eager to learn more about mushrooms.

Of course, such a breach of teaching ethics would be deplorable and, in the words of Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, I am unaware of any such activity or operation; nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did, in fact, exist, sir.

Anyway, repeated discussions with these people, if they did, in fact, exist, resulted in my need for a way to say more or less the same thing, and share the same pictures, with a small group. It was the year 2000, and there was this new thing called the World Wide Web. "How hard can it be to make a website?" I thought, and after some trial and error with Windows Paint, Notepad, Netscape, and an FTP program, I launched a very small site called MushroomExpert.Com, mostly to share information about non-morel mushrooms with some of my students' family members.

I borrowed the "mushroom expert" label from my audience, and intended the site's name to be tongue-in-cheek; I didn't really know that much about mushrooms! However, the Internet was a wide-open, Wild, Wild West in 2000, and my website was one of the few mushroom-related things out there, which meant unexpected traffic and popularity—and a growing obligation to actually develop some expertise.

Previously, my mushroom knowledge had been based on collecting experience (I started collecting mushrooms in 1994), the expertise of my friend and first mushroom mentor, John David Moore, and a collection of field guides (especially David Arora's 1986 Mushrooms Demystified). Now, I began to acquire more technical scientific literature; I bought a microscope; I began to preserve more of my mushroom collections, with an eye toward studying them.

My mushroom knowledge and MushroomExpert.Com have been developing together ever since. The site has progressed from a dozen or so pages to well over a thousand. At first the site's descriptions of mushrooms were based on the descriptions I found in field guides (always attributed and paraphrased, of course—I'm an English teacher, after all), illustrated with my lousy photos and, quite often, with the much better photos of others who kindly agreed to let me use their material at my site. Eventually I decided that the site would be more scientific and relevant if it represented primarily my collections of mushrooms: their features, their ecology, and so on. That way, a reader knows precisely what she's getting. This is what Michael Kuo calls Ganoderma applanatum. These are the dimensions and colors and microscopic details of his collections (or of the collections others have sent to him for study). This is where he has found this mushroom. These are pictures of his collections. And so on.

Today, in 2023, I am still in the process of revising to meet my new standard. It used to take half an hour or so to make a mushroom webpage. Now it takes something like five to ten hours. About an hour for collecting, documenting (with photos and a written description), and preserving each collection. Another hour to study the collection under the microscope (often years later). Another two or three hours for research and identification. Another hour to make the corresponding webpage. I have hundreds of still-unidentified mushroom collections in my herbarium, waiting for me. In short, MushroomExpert.Com has turned into my life's work—a study, such as it is, of North America's mushrooms—and it doesn't show signs of slowing down yet.


I am deeply indebted to John David Moore for introducing me to mushroom hunting and teaching me about mushrooms.

Carol Schmudde, my mother, has been proofreading this website's pages since the beginning.

Andy Methven has shared his mycological knowledge with me for two decades and, unaccountably, has yet to get fed up with my questions.

Speaking of patience, Melissa Kuo, Will Klipp-Kuo, Carol and Ray Schmudde, Kate Klipp, Kirsi Rintanen, Vera Evenson, Andy Methven, John David Moore, and Bob Zordani have spent many hours in the woods with me, hovering over mushrooms. Thank you!

Professional, student, and amateur mycologists to whom I am indebted include Cathie Aime, Joe Ammirati, Scott Bates, Hal Burdsall, Carol Carter, Darvin DeShazer, Tim James, Jay Justice, Roy Halling, Karen Hughes, Ron Kerner, Rick Kerrigan, Dick Korf, Patrick Leacock, Gary Lincoff, Ed Lubow, Brandon Matheny, Joe McFarland, Andrew Miller, Drew Minnis, Nik Money, Greg Mueller, Kerry O'Donnell, Beatriz Ortiz-Santana, Clark Ovrebo, Ron Peterson, Pat Rogers, Fred Stevens, Walt Sturgeon, Lisa Suits, Walt Sundberg, Rachel Swenie, Rod Tulloss, Andrew Wilson, Michael Wood, Else Vellinga, and Tom Volk.

The following individuals have made substantial contributions to MushroomExpert.Com, over the years, in the form of photos, drawings, translations, written material, and chat board moderating (yes, there used to be a MushroomExpert.Com chat board, and OMG no, it will not be returning): Irene Andersson, George Barron, Rex Bartlett, Stephen Canfield, Mark Davis, Darvin DeShazer, Tim Geho, Soren Guten, Rob Hallock, Pam Kaminski, Heidi Kellner, Ron Kerner, Taylor Lockwood, Holly Miller, Ron Meyers, Dan Molter, Richard Nadon, Ron Pastorino, Charya Peou, John Plischke, Chris Ribet, Tim Robbins, Eileen Seto, Dianna Smith, Hugh Smith, Lisa Suits, Hiroshi Takahashi, Nathan Wilson, Deina Zartman, and Tim Zurowski.

I am indebted to the following organizations and institutions: the Asheville Mushroom Club, the City of Charleston IL, the Colorado Mycological Society, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Field Museum of Natural History, Fox Ridge State Park, Grand Prairie Friends, the Illinois Mycological Association, the Missouri Mycological Society, the New York Botanical Garden, the Ohio Mushroom Society, Sherwood Forest Friends, the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, the University of California Herbarium, the University of Illinois Press, the University of Michigan Herbarium, the University of Michigan Press, and the University of North Carolina Press.

I am incredibly grateful for the financial support of my readers. So many have donated over the years, in amounts ranging from a few dollars to hundreds, and many readers donate regularly. Thank you for your generosity!

Last but not least, I owe a huge debt to the many individuals who have provided mushroom collections for study: Gerry Adams, Greg Allikas, Bob Albright, Terry Allen, Jace Amaro, William Andrew, Keith Arquilla, Byron Augustin, Phoebe Ayers, Marilyn Barth, Rex Bartlett, Lee Barzee, Scott Bates, Devon Beltz, Denis Benjamin, Dent Benjamin, Lesley Bergemann, Fluff Berger, Lara Berkley, Leighla Beteta, Joanne Bilarczyk, Dick Bishop, Lindsay Blevins, Laurence Boomer, Joan Boone, Joanna Boone-Siary, Jenny Bower, Mark Bower, Hazel Braeuer, Glenn Brown, Sibylla Brown, Corey Burt, Bob Busse, Charlotte Caplan, Nathaniel Cecil, Tommy Chiu, Naomi Clarke, Ellen Cobb, Norris Coit, Steve Collins, Crystal Davidson, Roger Eberhardt, Barbara Engh, Chris England, Scott Engstrom, Constance Esposito, Matthew Felix, Penny Firth, Gretchen Fitzgerald, Mandi Foster, Cecily Franklin, Elaine Frick, Samantha Friedman, Brad Frisbie, Cole Furman, Austen Ganley, Nancy Garwood, Tim Geho, Emily Gianfortoni, Jim George, Linda Goodwin, Lisa Gravil, Ken Greger, Django Grootmyers, Neil Gunter, Gaston Guzmán, Scott Hamilton, Bill Hartwig, Gwenne Hayes-Stewart, K. Heffley, Roger Heidt, Anna Henning, Steve Herbeck, Donna Herbold, Matthew Hill, Kathie Hodge, Scott Hoelscher, Dana Michael Holt, Julia Hoskins, Sylvia Hosler, Grace Hough, Ron Huffman, Antoinette Indge, Philip Inman, Sondra Jackson, Keith Jacobson, Brad Jaynes, John Jennemann, Sura Jeselsohn, Matthew Johnson, Robert Johnson, Katherine Josey, Jay Justice, Albert Kaffka, Sherry Kay, Ron Kerner, Matt Kessler, Susan Kielb, Dan Kimberling, Andrew Kimbrell, Randall Kincaid, Deborah Klein, Toff Kobylarz, Jeff and Paige Koch, Dave Kowalishen, Lara Kramer, Susan Kritzberg, Susan Labiste, Brenda Rife Lakanen, David Lambert, Judy Latchaw, Philippa Laurent, Gregory Laycock, Thang Le, Lindsay Lehault, Curt Leitz, Jim Lessard, Rowlin Lichter, Felicity Lien, Michelle Lierl, Douglas Ling, Jeff Linkinhoker, Louis Listo, Martin Livezey, Michael Loizides, Anne Looker, Sergi Lorente, Ed Lubow, Charlotte Lukes, Patrick Lyon, Bill Maas, Manda Maggs, Ray Mason, Justin Mathers, James Mattan, James Matthews, Kelly McAllister, Joe McFarland, Cornelius McHugh, Lisa McLennan, Phil Merrick, Alex Merryman, Ellen Meyer, Ron Meyers, Keith Miller, Lawrence Millman, Andrew Monie, Susan Moody, John David Moore, Melanie Moran, Cody Morgan, Francisco Moreno, Stephen Morreale, Mical Moser, Nathan Mueller, Mary Munch, Kristin Musgnug, Patti Neale, Bill Neill, Elaine Nelson, Eric Nerino, Carl Nielsen, Carolina Nurik, Miles Oleskiw, Dawn-Michelle Oliver, Rita Olschewski, David Otis, Roxanne Palmrose, Joe Pase, Ron Pastorino, Jordan Pearse, Spencer Pearson, Greg Pecchia, Nina Peck, Blake Peltier, Celine Perrier, Jamie Petersen, Hoa Pham, Sister Mary Philomena, O. P., Kari Pierogastini, Chris Pistole, John Plischke, Liz Popich, Matthew Porraro, Dan Prescott, Judy Provo-Klimek, Lawrence Pullano, Charles Rader, Rebecca Rader, Rhea Rainwater, Elizabeth Reczek, Tony Reichstadt, Trey Richards, Rosemary Ridsdale, John Rosford, Morgan Sailors, Alison Sampson, Marion Sansing, John Schaefer, Wendy Schaefer, Floyd Schmidt, Steve Schwartzman, Sean Seal, Bob Sears, Linda Sears, Neil Selbicky, Tony Sepulveda, Noah Siegel, Robert Sharman, Betty Shearer, Mike Sheller, Little Shiva, Hugh Smith, Scott Smith, Bob Solem, Joanne Solem, Brian Stanley, John Steinke, Dave Steortz, Greg Stevenson, Doug Stewart, Mark Stewart, Don Stokes, Jeanne Storm, Stephanie Strange, Vance Stringham, Walt Sturgeon, Martha Suits, Chris Swanda, James Tall, Tom Taroni, Bruce Taylor, Thane Taylor, Judi Thomas, Mila Visser 't Hooft, Alan Thrailkill, Sasha Victoria Thrailkill, Dennis Thurber, Arlin Timberlake, Cindy Trubovitz, Dave Trummer, Dale Turner, Marie Viljoen, Cate Wagoner, Rex Wahl, Nancy Walker, Dave Wasilewski, Jackie Waters, Peggy Weil, Laura Wells, Judy Werner, Amanda West, Eric Williams, Pandra Williams, Nathan Wilson, Mike Wood, Wendell Wood, Joe Ziolkowski, and Bob Zordani.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.

Kuo, Michael (2023). About MushroomExpert. Retrieved from the Mushroomexpert.Com website:

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