Northern California is a paradise for fungi. The area receives a lot of rain from early December to late March. The wet conditions make many outdoor activities less attractive. But all that wet weather gives new life to hundreds of species of fungi.

For those who want more information on the identification of fungi, I highly recommend "Mushrooms Demystified" by David Arora (Ten Speed Press, $39.95). It is the most authoritative guide to identifying the fungi of the United States and Canada, but the average user may find it too technical.

A more accessible alternative that will cover hundreds of the most common western species is "A Field Guide to the Mushrooms of Western North America" by R. Michael Davis, Robbert Sommer and John A, Menge. (University of California Press.) This recent addition to the university's series of California natural history guides also has the advantage of many color photos.

A worthwhile online guide is "The Fungi of California," a site put together by Michael Wood and Fred Stevens. See:

WARNING: Do not use images displayed here to determine whether a mushroom is edible. An image cannot record and convey enough of the detailed information needed to make a definitive identification.
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