Author Interview: Jens H Petersen and Thomas Læssøe, Fungi of Temperate Europe (2-Volume Set)

Authors,  Thomas Læssøe and Jens H Petersen have spent the last five years creating the wonderful two volumes set: Fungi of Temperate Europe. They have taken the time to answer our questions about this monumental and daunting project.

Could you tell us a little about your backgrounds and how you got interested in mycology?  


We both dived into the mycological forest sometime in the late seventies and subsequently studied mycology at the Danish universities of Aarhus and Copenhagen. Since then, we have both tried to make mycology accessible to a broader audience, both through countless excursions and mycology courses and through books and photography (the present work includes photographs from the very first years of this 40 years period). Check also the book, The Kingdom of Fungi by Jens H. Petersen.

Two volumes, totalling over 1,700 pages must have a been a considerable undertaking; can you let us know a little of the process and how long it has taken for this book to come to fruition? 


We have worked with the books for five years. Firstly, we made a long list of taxa we wanted to include and Jens started to develop the first identification wheels. We had the first dummy layout in summer 2015 and made the first version of the wheels for the Basidiomycota during autumn 2015. The asco wheels and the layout of the species pages followed in 2016. By summer 2017 we had a layout ready, but without text.

While Jens did wheels, layouts and photo-shopping Thomas produced the Danish texts online in our Danish Fungal Atlas database ( and these were more or less finished during spring 2017. Then followed the long process of proofreading texts and editing them into the layouts. By summer 2018 this was finished and we started to do the translation into English. Fortunately, we had a couple of skilled UK copy editors who corrected mistakes and improved the language. The English edition was ready in April 2019.

The whole process was terrifying with respect to size which no one involved realised before they were deeply immersed in the books. The solution was to keep a tunnel vision most of the time, and just try to finish the one little piece of the puzzle in question and only on rare occasions emerge to the surface to look around and consider the distance to the goal line.

Who do you envisage using Fungi of Temperate Europe – what readership is it aimed at? 

Everyone with a basic knowledge of fungi.

The book uses ‘form group’ to identify and present the fungi rather than exclusively strict taxonomic groups; what influenced you to use form groups and fungi wheels?  



Scientists using modern DNA methods tend to split fungal genera into more and more narrow entities. As these are based on base pairs they may be absolutely devoid of morphological characteristics and thus impossible to work with for non-scientists. Thus any attempt to approach fungal identification in a strictly phylogenetic way will fail. It is for example impossible to construct a well functioning identification key to genera of fungi (we have been there several times, tried that and failed). This lead us to develop the multi-access computer key MycoKey ( and now later to try to convert the learning from MycoKey into book form.

What was your most surprising discovery whilst researching Fungi of Temperate Europe?  

That fungi are difficult but beautiful.

What is the biggest challenge when studying fungi?  

That fungi are mostly invisible to the naked eye unless they develop fruitbodies and when they do, the morphological plasticity of these fruitbodies is baffling. Thus good pictures are often worth more than detailed, lengthy descriptions.

After such an endeavour you surely deserve a rest, but have either of you got any future projects planned that you can tell us about?  


We are working on a book with new identification keys to Danish Basidiomycota. The overall structure of this will be built on the form group identification wheels from the present work but the species keys will be dichotomous, analytical keys with lots of illustrations. We believe that the two projects will supplement each other.

We would both like to dive deeper into the world of Ascomycota and possibly return to tropical mycology.

Fungi of Temperate Europe (2-Volume Set)
Aug 2019 £74.99 £94.99
The culmination of five years work from authors, Thomas Læssøe and Jens H Petersen




New at NHBS: Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East is the hot new bestseller at NHBS this month.

Covering over 400 species, this work presents all of the terrestrial mammal species of the Western Palearctic, serving as an excellent guide to the great wealth of fauna in this region. Species accounts are concise and authoritative, giving information on size, distribution, habitat, behaviour, reproduction and feeding. Each account is supported by distribution maps and superb illustrations. The book features over 100 plates, comprising of over 600 colour species artworks. Variation between the sexes is illustrated and anatomical diagrams are provided to assist identification. See sample pages and illustrations from this book

Get your copy todayand save 15%!

Bats of Britain, Europe and Northwest Africa – Now in Stock at NHBS


Autumn must be the time that bat books come home to roost – several new titles have just flown into NHBS, with more on the horizon. The hottest new title is Bats of Britain, Europe and Northwest Africa – now in stock at NHBS. This substantial reference with hundreds of intriguing photographs is certain to appeal to anyone interested in knowing more about the bats of Britain and Europe. Get your copy todayand save £5!

This comprehensive and superbly illustrated handbook presents for the first time all 51 bat species that occur across Europe and Northwest Africa, taking in to account recent taxonomic advances and new species descriptions from over the last few years. The discovery of new species in Europe, after a century of intensive investigations, indicates the limits of our knowledge and how far we are from a comprehensive understanding of bat ecology, biology, behaviour and biogeography. It was this need, especially as it affected conservation in the light of habitat loss and fragmentation, that motivated the authors of this landmark work. This is a new English language edition – this book was previously published in German.

View internal images from this book

Also selling well at NHBS is British Bats – A Guide to Identification Using Sound Analysis – which is due to be published in October 2009. Preorder your copy today!

Check out our great selection of bat detectors, bat boxes and related equipment; for more information on choosing a bat detector, browse the NHBS Quick Guide to Bat Detectors.

New Reptile and Amphibian Titles at NHBS – Summer 2009

New Holland European Reptile and Amphibian GuideRecently published and already a bestseller, the New Holland European Reptile and Amphibian Guide is now in stock at NHBS – order your copy today!

Other new field guides include Herpetofauna of Vietnam, European Pond Turtle and Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia.

New and upcoming scientific titles include The Rise of Amphibians, Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree and Snakes: Ecology and Conservation.



Herpetofauna of VietnamField Guide to the Frogs of Australia









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Collins Bird Guide – New Second Edition Due September 2009

We have just heard from Collins that the Second Edition of the immensely popular Collins Bird Guide will be published in September 2009.

This guide is written by Lars Svensson, one of Europe’s leading ornithologists, with translation by David Christie, and illustrated by two of the world’s finest bird illustrators, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom.

Covering Britain and Europe, this book provides all the information needed to identify any bird species at any time of year, with detailed text on size, habitat, range, identification and voice.

Accompanying every species entry is a distribution map and colour illustrations (over 3500 in all) to show the species in all the major plumages (male, female, immature, in flight, at rest, feeding). This second edition includes expanded text and additional colour illustrations.

Here’s what Mark Golley of Birding World had to say about the first edition:

`The Collins Bird Guide is undoubtedly the finest field guide that has ever been produced and now deservedly sits in a bird book elite of essential titles – nestling between BWP, HBW and Birds of Europe. The nomenclature and taxonomy may not be to everybody’s liking, but it is a certainty that the magnificent work of Mullarney and Zetterstrom has set the illustrative standard for decades to come and will be admired and enjoyed by thousands of birders worldwide for many years. The word `classic’ is so often over-used these days but, for once, it is a particularly fitting way to refer to this book. This is the last great bird book of the 20th Century, and I am sure that Peter Grant would have been happy knowing that. It is a fitting tribute to him, and his co-author and the world class artists. This book is an absolute gem.’

Pre-order your copy of the Collins Bird Guide today!

New! British Insect and Butterfly Field Guides

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Hot off the press from Collins are two great identification guides – the new edition of the Collins Complete Guide to British Insects, and the immensely popular third edition of the Collins Butterfly Guidenow available in paperback!

The new edition of the Collins Complete Guide to British Insects is a photographic field guide to all the common and some unusual species of insects across Britain that the keen amateur naturalist is likely to spot. Over 1,500 species are illustrated with detailed photographs chosen for their help in identification. Featured insect groups include: butterflies and moths, mayflies, dragonflies, damselflies, grasshoppers, crickets, earwigs, lacewings, bugs, bees, wasps, ants, beetles and larvae, all with keys to ensure accurate identification.

Order your copy of British Insects today!

The immensely popular third edition of the Collins Butterfly Guide is now available in paperback.  This comprehensive guide to the butterflies of Britain, Europe and North Africa describes and illustrates all 440 species, depicting both males and females and – where there is significant variation – subspecies.  Distribution maps accompany every widespread species, and the text covers all taxonomic nomenclature, distributions, flight periods, variations, habitats, behaviour, life cycles and conservation.

Collins Butterfly Guide is on special offer until 30 June 2009 order your copy today!

Check out our new range of homes for bugs and bees in your garden, including the Bee Hut, the Bumblebee Box and the Bug Mansion.

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New from Wetlands International: Wader Atlas – Introductory Special Offer

An Atlas of Wader Populations in Africa and Western Eurasia has just arrived at NHBS.

This milestone publication from Wetlands International  is a compilation of current knowledge of the numbers, distribution and movements of one of the most remarkable groups of birds in the region covered by the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). Long-term waterbird count data have been combined with an extensive literature review, especially published results of bird ringing and national bird atlases, to produce maps showing the population boundaries that are used as a basis of the conservation of these species.

The Wader Atlas will be a key resource for anyone involved in the conservation or study of wetlands.

We are offering a introductory special offer for the Wader Atlas – order today and save £20!
(This special offer expires 8 May 2009.)

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Birds of the Palearctic – Non-Passerines now at NHBS!

January has been quite a month for new birding guides here at NHBS, with the arrival of several new books on the birds of Southern Africa, Eastern Africa, North America, and East Asia.

The latest addition is the all-new Collins Field Guide: Birds of the Palearctic – Non-Passerines.

175898The essential companion for the keen birdwatcher, this field guide covers all the non-passerines or songbirds found from Britain eastwards to Japan, and as far south as the Sahara and Himalayas.

Together with Collins Field Guide: Birds of the Palearctic – Passerines (on special offer until 31/03/09), this book covers all the non-perching birds of the Palearctic, a zoographical area running from the British Isles eastwards to Japan, with its southern border marked by the Sahara, the Middle Eastern deserts, and the Himalayas. It covers the whole of the Russian Arctic, China, Tibet, Japan and the whole of Europe – the most popular birdwatching area in the world.

Order your copy of Birds of the Palearctic – Non-Passerines today! This book is on special offer until 30/04/09.

Don’t miss the great selection of birding titles currently on special offer in our annual Backlist Bargains sale, including the companion title Collins Field Guide: Birds of the Palearctic – Passerines

Get these great books before they sell out! (Backlist Bargains runs until 31 March 2009).

For more new birding titles, browse Birding Highlights

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