Giuliana Furci on the Wonders of Mycology, Wisdom from Jane Goodall, Favorite Books, and the World’s Largest Fungarium (#525)

Artist's rendering of Giuliana Furci.
Illustration via 99designs

“It’s really not about rock and roll anymore; it’s about rotten mold. And we have to let things rot.”

— Giuliana Furci

Giuliana Furci (@giulifungi) is foundress and executive director of the Fungi Foundation (est. 2012), the world’s first nonprofit dedicated solely to fungi. She is a Harvard University associate, Dame of the Order of the Star of Italy, co-chair of the IUCN Fungal Conservation Committee, mother, author of several titles—including a series of field guides to Chilean fungi—and contributor to numerous publications on the environment, such as the first State of the World’s Fungi report (Kew, 2018), Biodiversidad de Chile: Patrimonio y Desafíos (Ministry of the Environment, Chile, 2008) and the IBPA Award-winning book Fantastic Fungi.

Giuliana has worked for the fungi since 1999 and in the nonprofit sector for the last 17 years. She has held consulting positions in US philanthropic foundations as well as full-time positions in international marine conservation NGOs and Chilean environmental NGOs.

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#525: Giuliana Furci on the Wonders of Mycology, Wisdom from Jane Goodall, Favorite Books, and the World’s Largest Fungarium

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear an episode with the man Giuliana affectionately refers to as “Pablo?” Listen to my conversation with mycological mastermind Paul Stamets, in which we discuss fighting viruses with mycelium in a post-9/11 world, fending off carpenter ants with fungi, conquering a lifelong stutter with the assistance of Psilocybin cubensis, stacking microdoses of psilocybin with lion’s mane to treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and much more.

#340: Paul Stamets — How Mushrooms Can Save You and (Perhaps) the World


  • Connect with Giuliana Furci:


  • Connect with the Fungi Foundation:

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook


  • A product of exile: how Giuliana come to be born in the UK of a Chilean mother and an Italian father after her mother’s persecution under dictator Augusto Pinochet. [06:20]
  • After being born and raised in England, what was it like for Giuliana, at age 15, to accompany her mother’s return to Chile? Why was it not as smooth of a transition as she might have been expecting? [10:58]
  • As an undergraduate student, how did Giuliana choose her path of study? [14:05]
  • What is an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), and how does one measure its success? [17:08]
  • How did Giuliana go from studying aquaculture to fungi? [18:20]
  • Why does it seem that mushrooms and fungi have been so understudied? [22:26]
  • What’s so unique about Chilean mycology that it became Giuliana’s life work? Has she discovered any new species of fungi? [23:57]
  • How can we determine with certainty the age of a fungal species? [27:07]
  • Are fungi gendered? [29:22]
  • What does Amanita galactica look like, and how did Giuliana choose the name? [30:34]
  • What’s the protocol when it is believed a new species has been discovered? How are specimens preserved in the field? [33:04]
  • Much talk about mate and tango — two things I loved in Argentina many years ago. [39:55]
  • Giuliana’s serendipitous discovery of a second species: Cortinarius chlorosplendidus. [46:30]
  • Why is Kew Gardens so important to the field of mycology? [48:24]
  • How a mushroom is like an apple — just a small part of a much larger organism. [49:22]
  • Why do mycologists believe some mushrooms have developed properties that are hallucinogenic or even toxic to other species? [51:22]
  • Giuliana is kind enough to give us a crash course in taxonomy 101. [55:38]
  • How does a fungarium’s holotype differ from a voucher specimen? [57:43]
  • How did Giuliana come to befriend the legendary Jane Goodall, and how has this friendship encouraged her as a fellow mother field scientist? [58:44]
  • Under Giuliana’s leadership, Chile became the first country in the world to include the fungi kingdom in its environmental legislation. How did she accomplish this, and what does she hope this achieves on a globally ecosystemic level? [1:03:25]
  • What are the implications of human beings being more closely related to fungus than fungus is to plants? For starters, consider penicillin. [1:10:06]
  • In what ways are fungi crucial for life as we know it to exist? [1:12:22]
  • What is the mission of the Fungi Foundation? [1:16:45]
  • What books have influenced Giuliana’s approach to the wonderful world of fungi? [1:22:56]
  • An ineludible responsibility towards the kingdom of the fungi: on finding simplicity in what, at first glance, seemed complex. [1:26:20]
  • The importance of taking time for self-reflection when you’re facing problems for which you’re uniquely suited to solve — especially in a world that’s so hyperconnected and focused on what everyone else is doing and choosing to share. [1:29:56]
  • What is the Telluride Mushroom Festival, what makes it such an incredible experience, and what will Giuliana be presenting there this year? [1:31:46]
  • What does it mean to be a Dame of the Order of the Star of Italy? [1:35:38]
  • I’ve an affection for the Fungi Foundation and find $50,000 a fine first offering. Feel free to inflate the figure financially at! [1:37:08]
  • Giuliana’s request of the audience: let things rot. [1:42:15]
  • Final book and movie recommendations and parting thoughts. [1:43:39]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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10 Replies to “Giuliana Furci on the Wonders of Mycology, Wisdom from Jane Goodall, Favorite Books, and the World’s Largest Fungarium (#525)”

  1. I’m not sure where I can comment on the most recent five bullet Friday that was sent out today, but I just wanted to add a side note that if we could get a Tim Ferriss interview with Neri Oxman for one of the next interviews, I would be eternally grateful. I have learned a bit about her work and think she is one of the most amazing humans on the planet.

    1. Also commenting on today’s 5-Bullet Friday re offline maps as I don’t see another location to provide this Information. I’ve been using offline maps internationally WITH walking directions since 2012 without having local phone service and it’s truly an amazing improvement in the travel experience! Personally, I like CityMaps2Go by Ulmon (free). All local attractions are marked on the maps and local information for each attraction is hyperlinked to the map along with a bunch of local guides. Gives amazing travel independence particularly in regions where your best couple of languages don’t line up well with the primarily spoken languages of locals. Having the map downloaded also speeds responsiveness on city streets with tall buildings and saves on battery usage for full days out and about on foot. Many thanks to a fellow traveler who introduced me to the app! Cheers.

  2. Hey Tim,

    one more suggestion for a interesting guest would be Master Yuantong Liu. He is a Master in Zhineng Qigong and worked with Dr. Pang Ming. Zhingeng Qigong is a great training for mindfullness, awareness, (for me even Meditation) and much more. You can find also a book written by him (Basis Theories and Methods of Zhineng Qigong). Would love to hear more about Qigong and Tai Chi.

    Kind regards

  3. Hey Tim, wonderful podcast once again! Your the only podcaster that I faithfully listen to every one! Came across this very interesting book that you might want to look into. A history of central banking and the enslavement of mankind. I feel the need to get this book out there as I believe it will get removed. It was just posted on YouTube recently as well but I am sure it will not be up for long. Already banned from amazon. This would be a great addition to 5 bullet Friday. Thanks for all you do.
    Kurtis Riesebosch

  4. Giulana’s explanations were captivating. Sold on Fungi forever, as a critical part of our ecosystem. I one-clicked on Nicholas Money’s Fungi: A Very Short Introduction. And, look forward to jumping in behind Tim’s support for the Foundation, right now. The Telluride Fungi Festival is on my planning list for next year! Thank you Giuliana and Tim! Kevin

  5. Hello Tim!

    I think I have an interesting chunk of life for you. I am a psychic person who has been studying psychic phenomenon my whole entire life. My grandfather was a cinematographer of wildlife documentaries about birds and he was a personal friend of Hollywood director Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick was famous for his psychic movie The Shinning, as well as A Clockwork Orange and A Fullmetal Jacket. Let’s just say my grandfather had quite a birds eye view. Stanley Kubrick once noticed his work and asked him to even film a few scenes of the movie The Shinning.

    I reached a point in my life around the year 2012, when I found what I call psych*edel*ic drugs. If you take the letters e-d-e-l out of the word psychedelic, you are left without the word psychic… I had a vision once about Hollywood and the 1960s and the way the world would have been if they had CONTINUED to sell LSD in a store. We would have made advances in technology so far that living life like the movie The Matrix would have been realistic… after all The Matrix, the first one from 1999, is the only Hollywood movie where they really reference Mescaline for a very unique reason. Another aspect of life that was truly missing, was the enhancement of a persons psychic mentality. That would have been a very important part of society and god is extremely angry that we have made the decision as humans (god only knows why god gave some of us humans on earth, the ability to make “decisions”) to not make it to the only logic that god thought fit for planet earth. These are not things that John Lennon should have to wait to reincarnate for.

    Around the same time I discovered psych*edel*ics, I also discovered nootropic substances such as mushrooms; Cordyceps, Reishi, Chaga, Lions Mane.. Ginkgo Biloba, Bacoppa Monieri.. Alpha GPC… Piracetam, Aniracetam, Oxiracetam.. along with health foods and supplements containing all sorts of vegetables and fruits from all over the world. I have a goal to start my own organic hobby farm containing literally every animal, plant, vegetable, fruit and herb that I can grow and in various locations throughout the world. I plan to learn all major spoken languages as well as learn all programming languages. As a psychic… I know that I could have learned to speak Japanese overnight with perhaps 5 tabs of 100 microgram LSD… perhaps 1/8 a tab of 100 micrograms of LSD. It’s interesting how religion relates to psychic phenomenon. I also really need to learn everything I could possibly learn about chemistry with a psychic touch.

    Last but certainly not least… I had a vision not too long ago about how medical technology will keep even a 5 pack a day cigarette smoker living longer than they would have and I think you would certainly find that of interest.

    1. Something to note, where is the Silicon Valley for psychedelic Chemists? They would have had that after the 1960s…

      1. It literally changes history as much as if the British and the French had not had slaves and they had not tried to conquer anyone’s country.. If instead, they just simply taught then French or English and helped their countries develop imagine how different the world would be. Africa would be completely developed possibly if you ask me.

  6. Your interview with Giulia Furci was really perspective-changing. I honestly had not given fungi much thought before, but now I’ve made a small donation for their preservation! The tidbit I found most interesting was that penicillin works because we are related to the fungi! I’ll look into the book recommendations as well. I generally listen to your interviews while hiking in the forest, so this one was particularly apt:)