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Observationes Mycologicae

Elias Fries, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1815


lias Fries (1794-1878), son of a Swedish clergyman, grew up speaking Latin at home, a domestic arrangement that facilitated a future in science at a time when Latin was the language of scholarship. Småland, the section of southern Sweden that was his home, is an area rich in fungi. By the age of 17, Fries had described 300 varieties. Study at the University of Lund familiarized him with the works of Persoon and other mycologists and a doctorate in botany when he was 20 began a long teaching career at Swedish universities. Fries is known for his work in taxonomy, an area of difficulty and confusion in the pre-Darwin era. Observationes Mycologicae is his first important work on this subject. He also developed the system of making spore prints to identify mushroom varieties by the color of their spores.