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Science Mycology

The Hidden Kingdom of Fungi

Exploring the Microscopic World in Our Forests, Homes, and Bodies

by (author) Keith Seifert

foreword by Rob Dunn

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2022
Mycology, Ecology, Mushrooms, Environmental Conservation & Protection
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


“Fans of Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life and Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree will enjoy Seifert’s latest... A perspective-shifting guide to our microfungal matrix.”—Kirkus
Even though we can’t always see them, fungi exist all around us. From forests and farms to food and medicine—and even our homes and bodies—fungal connections shape how we live. In this illuminating book, readers will “discover how these marvels of nature enrich (and sometimes threaten) our lives.”(Peter Wohlleben, New York Times-bestselling author of The Hidden Life of Trees.

Esteemed career mycologist Keith Seifert reveals the important role that microscopic fungi, including yeasts, molds, and slimes, play in our lives, all while remaining invisible to the naked eye. Divided into sections, each one exploring a different environment where fungi thrive, The Hidden Kingdom of Fungi introduces readers to the fascinating world of mycology, with information on:


  • How fungi are at the heart of life-changing medical breakthroughs, including the development of antibiotics such as penicillin and organ transplant drugs.
  • Where fungi live in our homes and how they influence our health, from our gut to our scalps.
  • How fungi add important vitamins to our diet and make our favorite foods and drinks possible, including wine, cheese, chocolate, and beer.
  • The essential role fungi are playing in innovative technologies, such as creating alternative energy sources, reducing plastic pollution, cleaning up toxins from oil spills, and even building architecture for a Mars colony.

Despite their many benefits, we hold a precarious relationship with fungi: fungal diseases lead to over 1 million deaths each year, and they have played a destructive role in disasters ranging from the Irish Potato Famine to possibly even the extinction of the dinosaurs. The Hidden Kingdom of Fungi urges us to better understand our relationship with fungi—and to plan our future with them in mind—while revealing their world in all its beautiful complexity.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Keith Seifert spent more than 40 years studying fungi on five continents. At Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, he did research on microscopic fungi from farms, forests, food, and the built environment, to reduce toxins and diseases affecting plants and animals. He was president of the International Mycological Association, an executive editor of Mycologia, and associate editor of several other scientific journals. He lives near Ottawa, Canada.

Dr. Rob Dunn is Professor of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and the author of seven books, including Delicious, Never Home Alone, and A Natural History of the Future. He’s written for Scientific American, Smithsonian Magazine, and National Geographic and regularly advocates for citizen science. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Editorial Reviews

“Fans of Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life and Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree will enjoy Seifert’s latest... A perspective-shifting guide to our microfungal matrix.”

"Seifert, in this fascinating, engaging, and approachable work, provides an improved understanding of how fungi surround and affect our lives."

“An excellent primer for the ecological and forest-interested layperson.”
The Globe and Mail

“Explore the complex and ingenious ecosystems where fungi are found and discover how these marvels of nature enrich (and sometimes threaten) our lives.”
—Peter Wohlleben, New York Times-bestselling author of The Hidden Life of Trees

“If you are interested in mushrooms, like so many people are these days, but want to delve deeper than the headlines, this is the book for you.”
—Eugenia Bone, author of Mycophilia and former president of the New York Mycological Society

“Delightful … A wide-eyed grand tour of [an] alien world [that] makes me love these multi-gendered, cell-wall-having, network-forming bugs all the more.”
—Adam Rogers, senior correspondent at Wired and author of Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern and Proof: The Science of Booze

“Flat-out fabulous. [The Hidden Kingdom of Fungi is] an enlightening introduction to fungi, yes, but it’s also a real page-turner. Dr. Seifert is a spectacularly skilled writer. He truly puts the fun in fungi.”
—Andy MacKinnon, author of Alpine Plants of the Northwest

“An excellent, intimate introduction to fungi and mycology that will appeal to general science readers and those interested in learning about our biologically interdependent world.”
Library Journal

“An authoritative and gripping exposé of fungi… with an exciting vision of how they might contribute to a more sustainable Earth. This book will increase your respect for fungi and could challenge your view of the world—inside and on you, your home, and outdoors.”
—David L. Hawksworth, Hon. President, International Mycological Association

"Fungi, the author tells us, are the meek that long ago inherited the Earth ... For the innately curious, 'The Hidden Kingdom of Fungi' will be an eye-opening introduction to a secretive world that most of us know too little about."
—Richard Schiffman, Washington Post