How to Identify Wild Mushrooms in Florida

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There are several thousand different species of mushrooms, with many unclassified by scientists. You can find them growing in dark, damp places such as on logs, near river banks and underneath the heavy shade of trees. If you've ever been walking out in the Florida wilderness or stepped out into the grass after a heavy rain and wondered about the types of mushrooms you found growing there, consider learning how to identify wild Florida mushrooms.

  • Familiarize yourself with mushroom types. Before going out into the field to find Florida mushrooms, purchase a mushroom identification book or mushroom field guide, such as The Mushroom Book, and study the different kinds of mushrooms so you have an idea of what common mushroom identifiers exist. Chantarelles and morels are common edible mushrooms found in Florida, but there are also poisonous mushrooms such as the white Amanita Bisporigera, commonly referred to as the death angel.

  • Find a knowledgeable local guide, especially if you are a novice. Finding someone knowledgeable about mushrooms to accompany you and to help examine and identify mushrooms can provide you with valuable insight. Join a mushroom hunting group. The Florida Morel Foray is a yearly expedition, which heads out to a park in the Florida panhandle to hunt for edible morel mushrooms.

  • Examine the mushrooms. When you find a mushroom, use a mushroom identification book to try to identify it. Examine markings on the gills, stem and cap of the mushroom. It may take several hours to identify a mushroom on your first try, and even experienced mushroom identifiers often cannot identify mushrooms on the spot.

  • Take a picture of the mushroom to send to the Florida Identification System. The University of Florida created a mushroom identification and diagnostic system to identify wild mushrooms in the state of Florida. Send the picture of the mushroom to Jim Kimbrough, a professor at the University of Florida (see Resources).

Tips & Warnings

  • Never eat mushrooms that you find in the wild. Many edible mushrooms have poisonous counterparts that look nearly identical and only very experienced mushroom hunters should consider eating mushrooms found in the wild.

References

  • Photo Credit mushroom image by Earl Robbins from Fotolia.com
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