Mushroom Identification


Although you can safely eat many types of mushrooms, some species contain toxins that can result in serious illness, even death. For those connoisseurs who prefer to pick their mushrooms in the wild, identification is critical. You should never ingest any mushroom without having identified it as a safe species.

Appearance and Taste

  • Although appearance does not necessarily identify a mushroom with 100 percent certainty, it's a good starting point. You can usually identify the common mushrooms based on appearance more readily than an obscure species. Mushroom hunters also use taste to help them identify the different varieties they find. Mushroom flavors differ, such as bitter, mild or peppery, depending on the species. You can safely test for taste, even in cases of toxic mushrooms, by breaking off a small portion and touching it to your tongue, advises the University of Florida.

Picture Matching

  • Picture matching, comparing a mushroom specimen with a photograph in a reference book or field guide, can help identify a particular species of mushroom. You may tentatively identify some types of mushrooms from picture matching, but don't attempt to positively identify a species from picture matching alone, advises mushroom expert Dave Fischer, author of "Edible Mushrooms of North America." This might have serious consequences if you eat a wild mushroom without being absolutely certain of its safety.

Spore Print

  • One of the most helpful processes in mushroom identification, taking a spore print, involves a simple method the average amateur mushroom enthusiast can easily perform. Cut off the mushroom stem and put the cap on a white piece of paper. The gill side should touch the paper. Put the cap and paper into a sandwich bag. After 4 to 8 hours, remove the cap and look at the color of the spore pattern on the paper. Using a field guide, compare the color with what you would expect to see from a specific species.

Practical Tips

  • When gathering mushrooms in the field to identify, don't put them in plastic bags. This might cause them to rot, advises Utah State University. Instead, collect your samples in paper bags. Record the exact location and type of habitat in which you found the mushroom. This might help with identification. Don't eat any wild mushrooms simply because you have seen animals eat them. That does not mean humans may consume the mushrooms safely.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • About Mushrooms Growing in the Lawn

    Congratulations. You have mushrooms growing in the lawn. Many homeowners think that mushrooms are somehow dangerous or indicative of disease, but nothing...

  • Identification of Wild Mushrooms in Virginia

    Whether hunting for mushrooms in Virginia or elsewhere, take along a field guide for mushroom identification. Forests in Virginia offer cool, moist...

  • Do Morel Mushrooms Grow in Alabama?

    Morel mushrooms have been found growing in the northern parts of Alabama. Since spring arrives earlier in the South, so do the...

  • Coral Mushroom Identification

    Before attempting to pick coral mushrooms, study how to recognize poisonous and non-poisonous fungi. Numerous guidebooks are available. The coral mushroom is...

  • Field Mushroom Guide

    A mushroom is a fleshy, spore-bearing fungus. The term is applied to stemmed varieties like the commonly cultivated white button mushroom found...

  • Mushroom ID Field Guide

    Identifying mushrooms in the field is difficult. Keying them through a variety of characteristics is a common field method. One of the...

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Make a Vertical Clay Pot Garden

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!