Back to books
NewSouth NewSouth

Underground Lovers

Encounters with fungi

Buy book

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 our ecosystems, and much more.

Underground Lovers is a joy to read.’ — Sophie Cunningham, author of City of Trees

‘Sensual and scientific. Dazzling and boundary breaking. Underground Lovers will make you see the world anew.’ — Long Litt Woon, author of The Way Through the Woods

‘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

‘I was entertained and enthralled reading this book and I promise I have never read a book from cover to cover on fungi before. I didn't think it was my jam, but it turns out...well, it turns out it should be everyone's jam. Fungi is literally the glue that keeps us together.’ — Chris Gordon, Readings

‘Pouliot is a born storyteller, able to conjure fungi and friends of fungi alike in memorable colour.’ — Elke Power, Readings

‘Pouliot conveys the otherworldly charisma of mushrooms with love and skill.’ — Kurt Johnson, Environmental Journalist, Sydney Morning Herald

‘Powerful stuff, which should be read by all those who continue to support the insane logging of our native forests.’ — John Watts, author and environmental activist

‘Pouliot is a mycologist whose knowledge of fungi is extraordinarily vast and intricate.’ — The Saturday Paper

Underground Lovers: Encounters with fungi by Australian ecologist Alison Pouliot [is a] beautifully written exploration of fungal weirdness and current mycological investigations.’ — Robin Powell, Sydney Morning Herald

'In this captivating study, ecologist Pouliot expounds on mushrooms she’s encountered during her fieldwork...The result is an enjoyable tour of the fungal kingdom.' — Publisher's Weekly

'Conveying an impassioned message for conservation and awareness, Underground Lovers is a compelling, enlightening look at lowly but remarkable fungi that are often hidden in the shadows.' — Foreword Reviews

‘In this book, she takes us with her all over the world as she brings fungi to life with lush descriptions, infectious enthusiasm, and gorgeous pictures. But she also shows the reader just how important fungi are to the natural world, as well as what they do for humans.’ — Jaime Herndon, Book Riot

‘Do we really need another book about mushrooms? The answer is yes, but only if it’s this one. Alison Pouliot has written a lovely book that digs deep but wears its learning lightly.’ — Fungi Magazine

'The real essence of the book lies in its impassioned argument for fungal conservation...Pouliot’s arguments for conservation unfold by way of several quite original, non-technological, extra-scientific approaches.' — The Mycophile