Dugan, Frank M. Western Regional Plant Introduction Station, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Indigenous uses of fungi
- Fungi and folklore
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The study of utilization of fungi by common people, as food or medicine, or in crafts, stories, or rituals. Ethnomycology is a subfield of ethnobotany (although, strictly speaking, fungi are not plants) or ethnobiology. Originally, emphasis was on psychoactive fungi, such as the ritual use by Mesoamerican Indians of mushrooms in the genus Psilocybe, or the putative identification of Amanita muscaria (the “fairy tale” mushroom with the white-dotted red cap) as the soma (sacred drink of the gods and warriors) of Vedic scriptures (the oldest texts of Hinduism). Over time, the discipline has broadened considerably, and most contemporary research documents culinary or medicinal uses of fungi by various indigenous peoples, especially hunter-gatherers and peasant farmers. Although most studies focus on use of mushrooms by indigenous peoples, the field includes miscellaneous practices involving fungi by any bearers of “folk” traditions. See also: Fungi; Mushroom; Mycology
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