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.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.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Brought to you by Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement,  Eight Sleep’s Pod Pro Cover sleeping solution for dynamic cooling and heating, and Mack Weldon premium men’s basics. More on all three below.


This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually Athletic Greens, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system. 

Right now, Athletic Greens is offering you their Vitamin D Liquid Formula free with your first subscription purchase—a vital nutrient for a strong immune system and strong bones. Visit AthleticGreens.com/Tim to claim this special offer today and receive the free Vitamin D Liquid Formula (and five free travel packs) with your first subscription purchase! That’s up to a one-year supply of Vitamin D as added value when you try their delicious and comprehensive all-in-one daily greens product.


This episode is brought to you by Eight Sleep! Eight Sleep’s Pod Pro Cover is the easiest and fastest way to sleep at the perfect temperature. It pairs dynamic cooling and heating with biometric tracking to offer the most advanced (and user-friendly) solution on the market. Simply add the Pod Pro Cover to your current mattress and start sleeping as cool as 55°F or as hot as 110°F. It also splits your bed in half, so your partner can choose a totally different temperature.

And now, my dear listeners—that’s you—can get $250 off the Pod Pro Cover. Simply go to EightSleep.com/Tim or use code TIM. 


This episode is brought to you by Mack Weldon! Mack Weldon is reinventing men’s basics. They believe in smart design, premium fabrics, and simple shopping. I’ve been focusing on their underwear and have been wearing their AIRKNITx 5-inch boxer briefs for a while now, and I absolutely love them. They are engineered to keep you dry, cool, and comfortable to the end of your workout (or workday). The fabric is soft, lightweight microfiber, which maximizes airflow and stretches in every direction. It’s breathable, moisture wicking, and odor fighting.

To get 20% off your first order, visit MackWeldon.com/TimTim and enter promo code TIMTIM. Mack Weldon—reinventing men’s basics.


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

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

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.

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Giuliana Furci:

Instagram

  • Connect with the Fungi Foundation:

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

SHOW NOTES

  • 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 ffungi.org! [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]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 600 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.