Fungi, Folkways and Fairy Tales: Mushrooms & Mildews in Stories, Remedies & Rituals, from Oberon to the Internet

Frank M. Dugan

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Abstract

Fungi are manifest in a multiplicity of folktales and fairy tales, and in folk remedies and rituals. They appear as foods, poisons, diseases, decorations, dyes or tinder, and even in insults, compliments, graffiti and video games. These and other impacts of fungi on folkways are here concisely reviewed under categories likely to interest professional and amateur mycologists and accessible to the lay reader. The evolution of popular perceptions of fungi is sketched from Shakespearean times through contemporary European and American cultures. Provided are specific instances of how different cultures utilized or avoided fungi, responded to fungal diseases of crops or humans, or viewed fungi in the context of popular belief, superstition or religion.

Keywords

ethnomycology; ethnobotany; fairy rings; fairy tales; folktales; folkways; fungi; mushrooms; plant disease; ringworm; tinder fungus; toadstools; witches' broom; witches' butter



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2509/naf2008.003.0074

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