MycoKey is an information system to fungal genera.
In MycoKey you can search for genera and species or use the synoptical keys to identify your specimens.
part of a character input screen more . . .
MycoKey 2.5 covers more than 874 genera of the Basidiomycota and Ascomycota (discomycetes) that occur in Northern Europe. Genera with only anamorphic or licheniced species are excluded.
part of a result screen more . . .
Why focus on fungal genera?
The typical mushroom collector is concerned about species. So why bother about genera?
The answer lies in the diversity and multitude of the fungi. The funga of the British Isles is considered the best studied in the world. Hawksworth estimated a total number of 12,000 known fungi (including microfungi and lichens; Hawksworth 1991 - Mycol. Res. 95: 641-655) from that area. If you sit down with an identification book and try to identify one of these you will realize that 12,000 species can´t be held in one key. You will first have to work through some above genus hierarchy, and long before you see the first species names pop up, you will be forced to decide which genus your species belongs to.
Although, distinguishing species can be tough, keying out the right genus with an analytical key may be a lot more complicated (on analytical and synoptical keys, see the "on synoptical keys" button). Thus, we need the most refined tools for this navigation amongst fungal genera.
What about the species?
Species constitute the fundamental entities in biodiversity and taxonomy. They are the reason for all this fuzz about identification.
MycoKey 2.0 contains almost 3.000 species (about 3.400 illustrations) as examples of the included genera, and these are the ultimate results of a MycoKey search. You can study the generic diagnoses, descriptions and notes, but if the displayed species do not resemble your specimen you may not feel you have a convincing generic identification. To help this, MycoKey has some build in features. If for example you code that the pileus of your fungus is red, MycoKey will try to present you with pictures of red pileate species as the first example of any resulting genus. So, you will see a red Russula instead of a grey or green one.
This is the first step towards species identification, but since only some species are included you usually can´t go all the way to a safe species identification with MycoKey. You will need one of the books listed in the generic references to make your final identification.
If you are looking for edible mushrooms you should always consult a local funga to learn about local poisonous and edible fungi.
Back to MycoKey home