Underground Lovers: Encounters with fungi
By Alison Pouliot
Paperback, non-fiction, published March 2023 by NewSouth Publishing, 288pp
Book trailer: https://vimeo.com/801060103
‘Mists waft gently around me and slowly drizzle water through the fronds of tree ferns. Lichens wrap around twisted blackwood limbs like ornate scarves. In the gloom of the forest floor, fallen branches are sheathed with fungal stripes of yellow and purple. But beneath the colourful surface, the fallen litter is alive with the clandestine workings of fungi.’
What can we learn from the lives of fungi? Underground Lovers brings us to our knees, magnifier in hand, to find out.
Fungi offer a way to imagine life differently. In Underground Lovers Alison Pouliot reaches down to earth, and deeper, to dwell with fungal allies and aliens, discover how fungi hold forests together, and why humans are deeply entwined with these unruly renegades of the subterrain. Told through first-hand stories — from the Australian desert to Iceland’s glaciers to America’s Cascade Mountains — Alison Pouliot shares encounters with glowing ghost fungi and unearths the enigma of the lobster mushroom. Melding science and personal reflection, she explores the fungi that appear after fire, how fungi and climate change interact, the role of fungi in ours ecosystems, and much more.
Underground Lovers was featured on New Scientist’s list of best non-fiction books of 2023 and the Readings list of best non-fiction books of 2023.
‘A joy to read.’ — Sophie Cunningham
‘Sensual and scientific. Dazzling and boundary breaking. Underground Lovers will make you see the world anew.’ — Long Litt Woon
‘The world of fungi is our world even if we don’t know it and can’t see most of it —strange, dazzling, spooky, unpredictable, friendly, deadly, sly. And Alison is the perfect guide. She surprises and informs, delights and warns; makes you wish you could walk with her and her passionate companions. That’s OK. In this book you do.’ — Paul Kelly, songwriter
‘An evocative, accessible and important book about one of the most vital, yet hugely ignored, kingdoms on our planet – fungi. After reading this you cannot help but see the world in a different light – and should approach mushrooms and truffles with new relish.’ — Charles Massy, author of Call of the Reed Warbler
‘Anyone who has joined Alison in a forest, anywhere in the world, will know her incredible ability to magnify those microscopic organisms that hold our natural world together, to connect every element of human life — physical, emotional or social — to the function of our natural landscapes. Underground Lovers is like a walk in the forest, pungent and complex, filled with curiosity and wonder, and leaving you with a sense that there is so much more to uncover.’ — Millie Ross, horticulturist and presenter, ABCTV Gardening Australia
‘This subterranean journey introduces the quirks of behaviour that allow fungi to spread through soils, support living plants, and recycle the debris of nature. Alison is an accomplished storyteller.’ — Nicholas P. Money, mycologist and science writer
‘The underground teaches us a different language – and Alison Pouliot is the perfect translator.’ — Toby Kiers, Professor, VU Amsterdam
‘Underground Lovers takes storytelling about fungi to a captivating new level. A well-researched page turner.’ — Anders Dahlberg, Professor, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
‘Underground Lovers is a global travel guide to the magnificent realm of fungi. It is beautifully written, with eyes wide open to the intricate wonder of it all – what a story!’ — Bob Brown
Alison Pouliot is an ecologist with a passion for fungi. Her journeys in search of fungi span northern and southern hemispheres, ensuring two autumns and a double dose of fungi each year. As scientist and photographer, author and someone who roams the forest daily, Alison delves deep into the realm of fungi through multiple lenses. Alison is author of The Allure of Fungi and co-author of Wild Mushrooming, both also available on the Fungimap bookshop.