Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Mordecai Cubitt Cooke, who took over Berkeley's role in England, was another of the European mycologists with an interest in non-European species. Cooke and his compatriot George Massee (1850-1917) described the bulk of the new species found in the specimens Mueller sent to Kew and published their results in a series of papers. Cooke gathered all the available information about Australian fungi in his monograph, Handbook of Australian Fungi, which appeared in 1892. This was the first comprehensive account on the Australian fungi and gave brief descriptions of all the species thus far found in Australia.
Cooke had the immense resources of the Kew herbarium at his disposal, as well as contacts with the other European mycologists who had worked on Australian material. It would therefore be natural to expect that his book gave a solid foundation for the future study of Australian fungi. Alas, no. One mycologist has described the book as "somewhat unsatisfactory", and that appears to be the most flattering appraisal. To be fair to Cooke, he was forced to work with dried material that had to survive the sea voyage to England - and he was able to use only about 10% of the material that was despatched from Australia. The specimens were often accompanied by, at best, limited descriptions of the fresh appearance. Cooke commented on these difficulties and noted that without accompanying notes or sketches "errors are almost inevitable". Puffballs and many of the bracket fungi, for example, change little on drying but for the fleshy fungi, especially the mushrooms, good descriptions of the fresh state are essential. So, while there are many pages of coloured illustrations, at times there is only a tenuous connection between the drawing and the living fungus. Moreover, the verbal descriptions are far too brief. It has always been difficult to use Cooke's book to identify Australian collections.
Source: Heino Lepp, ANBG Fungi web site