Fungi from India

You must be wondering reading this title, that I am out of mind; what in the world makes me talk about fungus/fungi. Of course, I am not fungus expert, nor am I biologist. But I still wanted to write about it as I heard on radio other day about it and wanted to introduce you on this topic, as I am in general interested in how people pursue their interests and passion and how how they take efforts to put that to use for society. The other reason I got attracted to this was because of the fact that I have encountered so many different fungi during my treks/hikes in Sahyadri/Western Ghats and always curious to know what they are called as or how different shape/form and color they acquire. Many of them are toxic, as advised by experts such as Kiran Purandare or P K Ghanekar, who would accompany on those treks.

Fugi from India is a website, brainchild of Dr Kiran Randive, which came out of a pain and difficulties he himself went through during his own research, trying to find reference material. Also as mentioned on the home page the other important reason is: “As we all know that the literature on fungi is scattered in journals and it is not easily accessible to the Indian students and researchers. The unavailability of the related literature may develop dislike about the subject and at times conceal the richness that we possess.”

This is the best example of how power of Internet can be put in use. This is encyclopedic work on fungi of India. As it goes with any online encyclopedia, information is presented in different ways to the user as per their needs. The unique feature of this site also includes specialty databases so that information on fungi of a given type can be found together. For example there are databases for mushroom(yes, mushroom which we eat, is fungus, yucks :-)), rust fungi, marine fungi etc. The ‘must have’ feature for such sites is search mechanism which is a sorely missing. The other desired feature, from me as layman, is to specify local language names(such as Marathi names for example) for these wherever it is known.

A similar effort is being carried out to standardize local language names(in Marathi) for birds of India these days. Go ahead and visit the website, and enrich yourself with knowledge captured in there. BTW, I do want to write more about encyclopedias, its art and science, but later. Keep watching this space.

Update as of July 17, 2015: Times of India reported discovery of 2 new fungal species in Savantwadi area of Maharashtra. This is place is right on top of Sahyadri ranges, one of the biological hotpots of the world.

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