20 popular types of mushrooms (and their uses)



The genus Trichaptum, an example of a polypore, a mushroom without a stalk, fruiting on a log

Two of the five major divisions (phyla) of fungi (Kingdom Fungi) are the Ascomycota and the Basidiomycota. The Ascomycota, commonly known as sac fungi or ascomycetes, form meiotic spores called ascospores, which are enclosed in a special sac-like structure called an ascus. This division includes morels, some mushrooms and truffles, as well as single-celled yeasts and many species that have only been observed undergoing asexual reproduction. Members of the Basidiomycota, commonly known as the club fungi or basidiomycetes, produce meiospores called basidiospores on club-like stalks called basidia. Most common mushrooms belong to this group, as well as rust and smut fungi, which are major pathogens of grains.

Typical mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of members of the order Agaricales, whose type genus is Agaricus and type species is the field mushroom, Agaricus campestris. The order Agaricales is placed in the class Agariomycetes of the phylum Basidiomycota. Agaricales is commonly known as the «gilled mushrooms.»

However, in modern molecularly defined classifications, not all members of the order Agaricales have gills or produce mushroom fruiting bodies. Furthermore, many other gilled fungi, collectively called mushrooms, occur in other orders in the class Agaricomycetes. For example, chanterelles are in the Cantharellales, false chanterelles like Gomphus are in the Gomphales, milk mushrooms (Lactarius) and russulas (Russula) as well as Lentinellus are in the Russulales, while the tough leathery genera Lentinus and Panus are among the Polyporales, but Neolentinus is in the Gloeophyllales, and the little pin-mushroom genus, Rickenella, along with similar genera, are in the Hymenochaetales.

Within the main body of mushrooms, in the order Agaricales, are common fungi like the common fairy-ring mushroom (Marasmius oreades), shiitake, enoki, oyster mushrooms, fly agarics, and other amanitas, magic mushrooms like species of Psilocybe, paddy straw mushrooms, shaggy manes, and so forth.

An atypical mushroom is the lobster mushroom (Hypomyces lactifluorum), which is an ascomycete that parasitizes other mushrooms, such as the Russula or Lactarius. This may result in a deformed, cooked-lobster-colored outside from the lobster mushroom and the white flesh of the parasitized basidiomycete muchroom on the inside (Volk 2001).

Other mushrooms (those with fruiting bodies) are non-gilled. Some have pores underneath (and are usually called boletes), others have spines, such as the hedgehog mushroom and other tooth fungi, and so on. «Mushroom» has been used for polypores, puffballs, jelly fungi, coral fungi, bracket fungi, stinkhorns, and cup fungi.

Thus the term mushroom has more than one common application to macroscopic fungal fruiting bodies and associated organisms than one having precise taxonomic meaning. According to Chang and Miles (2004), there are approximately fourteen thousand described species of mushrooms.

Growth rates

Many species of mushrooms seemingly appear overnight, growing or expanding rapidly. This phenomenon is the source of several common expressions in the English language, including «to mushroom» or «mushrooming» (expanding rapidly in size or scope) and «to pop up like a mushroom» (to appear unexpectedly and quickly). In actuality, all species of mushrooms take several days to form primordial mushroom fruiting bodies, though they do expand rapidly by the absorption of fluids.

The cultivated mushroom as well as the common field mushroom initially form a minute fruiting body, referred to as the pin stage because of their small size. Slightly expanded, they are called buttons, once again because of the relative size and shape. Once such stages are formed, the mushroom can rapidly pull in water from its mycelium and expand, mainly by inflating preformed cells that took several days to form in the primordia.

Similarly, there are even more ephemeral mushrooms, like Parasola plicatilis (formerly Coprinus plicatlis), that literally appear overnight and may disappear by late afternoon on a hot day after rainfall. The primordia form at ground level in lawns in humid spaces under the thatch and after heavy rainfall or in dewy conditions balloon to full size in a few hours, release spores, and then collapse. They «mushroom» to full size.

The slang term «mushrooms» has served as a gang-related term for victims accidentally shot as collateral damage simply because they popped up suddenly, as do fungal mushrooms (Sherman et al. 1989).

Yellow, flower pot mushrooms (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii) at various states of development

Not all mushrooms expand overnight; some grow very slowly and add tissue to their fruiting bodies by growing from the edges of the colony or by inserting hyphae.

Mushroom vs. toadstool

The terms «mushroom» and «toadstool» date back centuries and were never precisely defined, nor was there consensus on its application. There is no scientific distinction between these terms. The term «toadstool» has often but not exclusively been applied to poisonous or inedible mushrooms, but has also been applied to those mushrooms that are edible and have the classic umbrella-like cap-and-stem form.

Between 1400 and 1600 C.E., the terms tadstoles, frogstooles, frogge stoles, tadstooles, tode stoles, toodys hatte, paddockstool, puddockstool, paddocstol, toadstoole, and paddockstooles were sometimes used synonymously with mushrom, mushrum, muscheron, mousheroms, mussheron, or musserouns (Ramsbottom 1954). The term «mushroom» and its variations may have been derived from the French word mousseron in reference to moss (mousse). There may have been a direct connection to toads (in reference to poisonous properties) for toadstools.

However, there is no clear-cut delineation between edible and poisonous fungi, so that a «mushroom» technically may be edible, poisonous, or unpalatable. The term «toadstool» is currently used in storytelling when referring to poisonous or suspect mushrooms. The classic example of a toadstool is Amanita muscaria.

Other Edible Wild Fungi

  • Amanita caesarea
  • (Common name: Caesar’s Mushroom)
  • Armillaria mellea
  • (Common name: Honey fungus)
  • Boletus badius
  • (Common name: Bay bolete)
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise extreme caution.
  • Clavariaceae
  • (Common names: Antler fungi, Finger fungi, Spaghetti mushroom, Worm mold)
  • Calvatia gigantea
  • (Common name: Giant puffball)
  • Clavulinaceae
  • (Common name: Clavulina)


  • Coprinus comatus
  • (Common names: Lawyer’s wig, Shaggy ink cap, Shaggy mane)
  • Should be consumed fresh, BEFORE the gills turn black and NEVER alongside alcohol.

  • Fistulina hepatica
  • (Common names: Beefsteak fungus, Beefsteak polypore, Ox tongue)


  • Laetiporus sulphureus
  • (Common names: Chicken-of-the-woods, chicken polypore, Sulphur polypore, Sulphur shelf)
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise extreme caution.
  • Leccinum aurantiacum
  • (Common name: Red-capped scaber stalk)
  • Leccinum scabrum
  • (Common name: Birch bolete)
  • Lepiota procera
  • (Common name: Parasol Mushroom) 
  • Macrolepiota procera
  • (Common name: Parasol mushroom)
  • Tricholoma terreum
  • (Common names: Dirty tricholoma, Gray knight)
  • To be eaten fresh, within 2 days of harvesting.
  • Suillus granulatus
  • (Common names:Granulated bolete, Weeping bolete)
  • Discard tubes BEFORE cooking.

  • Suillus luteus
  • (Common names: Slippery Jack, Sticky bun)
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise extreme caution.
  • Discard tubes and glutinous cuticle BEFORE cooking.


  • Pleurotus ostreatus
  • (Common names: Gray oyster mushroom, Oyster mushroom, Oyster shelf, Tree oyster mushroom, Píng gū (Chinese name), Sadafi (Irani name), Hiratake (Japanese name), Chippikkoon (Malayalam), Nấm sò (Vietnamese name))
  • Amanita muscaria
  • (Common names: Fly agaric, Fly amanita)
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise extreme caution.
  • Never to be eaten raw; always after finely dicing or thinly slicing mushrooms and then parboiling in a lot of water.


  • Coprinopsis atramentaria
  • (Common names: Common ink cap, Inky cap)
  • Never to be consumed along with alcohol. Will prove to be highly poisonous otherwise.


  • Tricholoma equestre   OR  Tricholoma flavovirens
  • (Common names: Man on horseback, Yellow knight, Canari (French name), Grünling (German name), Gąska zielonka (Polish name))
  • Consumption of this mushroom – more than thrice in a week – may lead to severe poisoning.

  • Agaricus campestris
  • (Common names: Field mushroom, Meadow mushroom)
  • Russula cyanoxantha
  • (Common name:Charcoal burner)
  • Russula emetica
  • (Common names: Emetic russula, The sickener, Vomiting russula)
  • Never to be eaten raw; always after parboiling in a lot of water. Consumption not recommended these days.
  • Russula virescens
  • (Common names: Green-cracking Russula, Green brittlegill, Quilted green Russula)
  • Russula xerampelina
  • (Common names: Crab brittlegill, Shrimp mushroom)
  • Polyporus squamosus
  • (Common names: Dryad’s saddle, Pheasant’s back mushroom)

  • Chroogomphus rutilus (Common names: Pine-spikes, spike-caps, Brown slimecap, Copper spike)
  • Cortinarius variicolor
  • Hygrophorus chrysodon
  • Lactarius salmonicolor
  • Lactarius subdulcis (Common name: Mild milkcap)
  • Lactarius volemus (Common name: Voluminous-latex milky, Weeping milk cap)
  • Laccocephalum mylittae (Common name: Blackfellow’s bread, Native bread)
  • Rhizopogon luteolus
  • Suillus bovinus
  • Suillus tomentosus (Common name: Blue-staining Slippery Jack, Poor Man’s Slippery Jack, Woolly-capped Suillus)


A fungus is a eukaryotic organism that digests its food externally and absorbs nutrient molecules into its cells. Fungi make up one of the kingdoms into which living things are classified by biologists. Mushrooms are unique because they differ from bacteria, which do not have a cell nucleus; they are not a plant because mushrooms do not make their own food through photosynthesis; and they differ from animals because they are not mobile and do not absorb nutrition externally. Mushrooms are, however, related to other fungi organisms such as, yeasts, molds, and mildews.

Fungi may be single-celled or multi-cellular. Multi-cellular fungi are composed of networks of long hollow tubes called hyphae. The hyphae often gather in dense networks known as mycelium. The mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, and consists of the mass branching, thread-like hyphae. The mycelium grows through the medium on which the fungus feeds. Because most fungi are embedded in the medium in which they grow, most often soil, they are often not visible.

Although fungi lack true organs, the mycelia can become organized into more complex reproductive structures called fruiting bodies, or sporocarps, under the right conditions. The sporocarp or fruiting body is a multi-cellular structure in which spore-producing structures, such as basidia or asci, are borne. The fruiting body is part of the sexual phase of a fungal life cycle, the rest of the life cycle is characterized by its vegetative mycelial growth. The sporocarp of a basidiomycete (club fungi, one of the major divisions of fungi) is known as a basidiocarp, while the fruiting body of an ascomycete (sac fungi) is known as an ascocarp.

Mushroom is the common name given to the fruiting bodies of many fungal species. Although these typically above-ground structures are the most conspicuous to humans, they make up only a small portion of the entire fungal body.

The relative sizes of the cap (pileus) and stalk (stipe) vary widely. Shown here is a species of Macrolepiota.

The standard for the name «mushroom» is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, hence the word mushroom is most often applied to fungi (Basidiomycota, Agaricomycetes) that have a stem (stipe), a cap (pileus), and gills (lamellae, sing. lamella) on the underside of the cap just as do store-bought white mushrooms. Stipe refers to the stem or stalk-like feature supporting the cap of a mushroom. The pileus is the technical name for what is commonly known as the cap of a fungal fruiting body, which is often umbrella shaped, but may take many forms. A gill or lamella is one of the papery ribs under the cap of a mushroom.

However, «mushroom» can also refer to a wide variety of gilled fungi, with or without stems, and the term is used even more generally to describe both the fleshy fruiting bodies of some Ascomycota and the woody or leathery fruiting bodies of some Basidiomycota, depending upon the context of the word. Forms deviating from the standard form usually have more specific names, such as «puffball,» «stinkhorn,» and «morel,» and gilled mushrooms themselves are often called «agarics» in reference to their similarity to Agaricus or their placement in the order Agaricales.

By extension, «mushroom» can also designate the entire fungus when in culture or the thallus (called a mycelium) of species that form the fruiting bodies called mushrooms.



Mushrooms can be instantly mined with anything. Mining a huge mushroom block drops up to 2 mushrooms of the same color. Fortune does not affect the drop rate of mushrooms in any form.

A mushroom also breaks instantly and drops as an item if:

  • the block below it is moved or destroyed;
  • A fluid flows over it;
  • The mushroom is not on podzol, mycelium, or nylium, the light level is 13 or higher, and a block updates next to it.

Natural generation

Mushrooms naturally generate in poorly lit areas (light level of 12 or less). If this condition is met, each chunk has 1⁄8 (12.5%) chance to generate red mushroom and 1⁄4 (25.0%) chance to generate brown mushroom, in the form of random patches.

Mushrooms also generate on surface in swamp, giant tree taiga, mushroom fields biomes, and anywhere in the Nether.

They are commonly found in patches on the bedrock ceiling of the Nether‌[JE only], and are the only blocks that can generate there.

Witch huts have a flower pot with a red mushroom inside. Mushrooms also generate inside «mushroom farm» rooms in woodland mansions.

Fallen trees

In Bedrock Edition, fallen oak, birch, spruce, and jungle trees have 0–2 mushroom generated on them.

Mushrooms can be bought from wandering trader for an emerald.


Mushrooms can be planted and grown on blocks in light levels below 13 and not directly underneath the sky. If planted on mycelium, podzol or nylium, they can stay planted in any light level, including be planted and remain under light from sky above. Both brown and red mushrooms grow at the same rate regardless of the light level.

Huge mushrooms

When bone meal is applied to a mushroom, the mushroom has a chance to grow into a huge mushroom of the same color, provided that it is on a proper block (grass, dirt or coarse dirt at a light level of 12 or below or on podzol, mycelium or nylium at any light level) and has enough space (7x7x9).


See also: Tutorials/Mushroom farming

When receiving a , a mushroom has a chance of spreading to a nearby block (including even above and below diagonally) if there are fewer than five mushrooms of the same type in a 9×9×3 volume around the original mushroom.

Crafting ingredient

Name Ingredients Crafting recipe
Fermented Spider Eye Brown Mushroom +Sugar +Spider Eye
Mushroom Stew Red Mushroom +Brown Mushroom +Bowl
Rabbit Stew Cooked Rabbit +Carrot +Baked Potato +Any Mushroom +Bowl
Suspicious Stew Red Mushroom +Brown Mushroom +Bowl +Any Flower

Commercially Cultivated Fungi

  • Cantharellus Cibarius
  • (Common names: Chanterelle, Girolle, Golden chanterelle)
  • Craterellus Tubaeformis
  • (Common names: Funnel Chanterelle, Winter mushroom, Yellowfoot)
  • Craterellus Cornucopioides
  • (Common names: Black chanterelle, Black trumpet, Horn of plenty, Trompette de la Mort)


  • Clitocybe Nuda
  • (Common names: Blue stalk mushroom, Wood blewit or blewitt)
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise extreme caution.
  • Never to be eaten raw; always after cooking. Brew in stews or sauté in butter.


  • Boletus Edulis
  • (Common names: Cep, King bolete, Penny bun, White mushroom (by Russians), Wolf mushroom (in Albanian), Cèpe (French name), Steinpilz (German name), Fungo Porcino or Porcini (Italian name))


  • Grifola frondosa
  • (Common names: Hen-of-the-wood, Ram’s head, Sheep’s head, Signorina, Maitake (Japanese name))
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise extreme caution.


  • Gyromitra Esculenta
  • (Common name: False morel)
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise extreme caution.
  • NEVER to be eaten raw; always after parboiling fresh mushrooms twice in a lot of water. Use fresh water in 3:1 ratio both times. May prove fatal if eaten raw.


  • Hericium erinaceus
  • (Common names: Bearded Hedgehog Mushroom, Bearded Tooth Fungus, Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Pom pom mushroom, Satyr’s Beard)
  • Hydnum repandum
  • (Common names: Hedgehog mushroom, Sweet tooth fungus, Wood Hedgehog, Urchin of the woods)
  • Cortinarius caperatus
  • (Common name: Gypsy mushroom)
  • Lactarius deliciosus
  • (Common names: Red pine mushroom, Saffron milk cap)
  • Tricholoma matsutake
  • (Common name: Pine mushroom, Matsutake (Japanese name), Song rong (Chinese name))
  • Lentinula edodes
  • (Common name: Shiitake)
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise caution.


  • Agaricus bisporus
  • (Common names: Button mushroom, Champignon mushroom, Common mushroom, Crimini mushroom, Cultivated mushroom, Italian brown, Italian mushroom, Portobello mushroom , Roman brown mushroom, Swiss brown mushroom, Table mushroom, White mushroom)


  • Volvariella volvacea
  • (Common name: Paddy straw mushroom, Straw mushroom, Cǎogū (Chinese name), Kabuteng saging (Filipino name), Hed fang (Thai name), Nấm rơm (Vietnamese name))

  • Flammulina velutipes
  • (Common names: Enokidake, Enokitake, Golden needle mushroom)


Hypsizygus tessellatus Two varieties are called

  1. Buna-shimeji(Common names: Brown Beech Mushroom, Beech Mushroom, BeechBrown Clamshell Mushroom)
  2. Bunapi-shimeji (Common names: White Beech Mushroom, White Clamshell Mushroom)
  • Ganoderma lucidum
  • ( Reishi (Japanese name), Língzhi (Pinyin nam), Linh chi (Vietnamese))
  • Auricularia auricula-judae
  • (Common names: Jelly ear Jew’s ear)
  • Needs to be washed thoroughly before use.
  • Sparassis crispa
  • (Common name: Cauliflower mushroom)
  • Pleurotus eryngii
  • (Common names: Boletus of the steppes, French horn mushroom, Trumpet royale, King oyster mushroom, King trumpet mushroom, Cardoncello (Italian name), Eringi (Japanese name), Saesongi peoseot (Korean name), xìng bào gū/cì qín gū/cì qín cè ěr (Chinese name))
  • Morchella
  • (Common name: Morels)

Extreme caution must be exercised while collecting this variety of mushrooms so as to avoid the accidental collection of poisonous early false morels or Verpa bohemica. Even though eaten in some parts of the world, Verpa bohemica is known to cause poisoning when eaten excessively.

  • Morchella conica var. deliciosa
  • (Common names: Black morel)
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise extreme caution.


  • Morchella esculenta var. rotunda
  • (Common names: Common morel, Morel, Morel mushroom, Sponge morel, True morel, Yellow morel)
  • May cause allergic reactions. Exercise extreme caution.

  • Tuber
  • (Common name: Truffle)

The edible varieties that are widely cultivated as follows:

  • Tuber uncinatum
  • (Common names: Burgundy truffle)


  • Tuber magnatum
  • (Common name: Piemont white truffle)
  • Terfezia (Common name: Desert truffle)
  • Tuber indicum (Common name: Chinese black truffle)
  • Tuber melanosporum (Common name: Périgord truffle)
  • Tuber borchii
  • Tuber brumale
  • Tuber mesentericum (Common name:The Bagnoli truffle)
  • Tuber aestivum (Common name: Summer or St. Jean truffle)


Java Edition:

Sound Subtitles Source Description Resource location Translation key Volume Pitch Attenuationdistance
Block broken Blocks Once the block has broken 1.0 0.8 16
None Blocks Falling on the block with fall damage None 0.5 0.75 16
Block breaking Blocks While the block is in the process of being broken 0.25 0.5 16
Block placed Blocks When the block is placed 1.0 0.8 16
Footsteps Blocks Walking on the block 0.15 1.0 16

Bedrock Edition:

Sound Source Description Resource location Volume Pitch
? Blocks Once the block has broken 0.7 0.8
? Blocks Falling on the block with fall damage 0.4 1.0
? Blocks While the block is in the process of being broken 0.3 0.5
? Blocks Jumping from the block 0.11 1.0
? Blocks Falling on the block without fall damage 0.21 1.0
? Blocks Walking on the block 0.3 1.0
? Blocks When the block is placed 0.8 0.8


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Different Categories Of Mushrooms

Mushrooms fall into a few broad categories.

There is also quite a bit of overlap between categories. Mushrooms will often fall into multiple different areas.

For example, oyster mushrooms are widely cultivated but they also grow wild and can be found in nature.

1) Cultivated Mushrooms

Cultivated mushrooms are ones that are grown commercially.

Mushroom farmers use a number of different methods and setups to consistently produce mushrooms for market.

Lots of farmers use very expensive equipment but I am a big fan of growing mushrooms the Low Tech Way. See how we grow mushrooms in this short tour of our low tech mushroom farm:

Cultivated mushrooms include any that you can find at the grocery store like button mushrooms, portobello, cremini, oyster mushrooms, enoki, and others.

You an learn more about growing mushrooms if these guides:

  • How To Grow Mushrooms Outdoors With A Mushroom Bed
  • How To Grow Your Own DIY Mushroom Spawn

2) Wild Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms are those harvested by mushroom hunters and foragers from nature.

Some varieties of mushrooms only grow on the live root systems of certain species of trees, or have other characteristics that make them nearly impossible to cultivate in a large-scale agricultural setting.

Some popular wild mushrooms include truffles, morels, and chanterelle mushrooms.

It’s important only to harvest wild mushrooms if you know what you’re doing or are mushroom hunting with an expert that can positively identify the specimens you find.

There are many poisonous wild mushrooms that look identical to edible wild mushrooms unless you know exactly what differences to look for.

3) Medicinal Mushrooms

Some varieties of mushrooms have long been used for their medicinal benefits. Some popular edible mushrooms have medicinal properties, such as Shiitake and Maiitake. Others are too woody or bitter to eat, and are instead made into tea or taken in capsules.

Medicinal fungi have been scientifically proven to offer a number of benefits and applications. Including in treating cancer, reducing cholesterol, as antibacterial and antifungal agents, and much more.

Good examples of medicinal fungi include reishi, chaga, and turkey tail mushrooms.

Check out my ultimate guide to Medicinal Mushrooms for more info.

4) Psychoactive Mushrooms

Psychoactive mushrooms are commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms.” These mushrooms have psychotropic effects. Most contain a psychoactive ingredient called psilocybin.

These types of mushrooms are illegal in many countries so be sure to check the law in your local area.

5) Poisonous Mushrooms

There are lots of poisonous species of mushrooms in the wild, which is why it’s very important to positively identify mushrooms before eating them.

Some of the most poisonous species, like the Amanita bisporigera (aptly named the “destroying angel”) look very similar to edible mushrooms. In different stages of development, they can easily be confused with button mushrooms, puffballs, or other edibles.

The effects of poisonous mushrooms can range from simply making you very ill to causing irreversible damage to your liver and kidneys.

6) Useful Mushrooms

Some varieties of mushrooms aren’t ingested at all, but are used for other purposes instead.

For hundreds of years, people in Europe (especially in Slovenia and surrounding area) traditionally used Amanita muscaria mushrooms as fly traps.

Which is why they have the name “fly agaric.” The mushrooms are soaked in milk, which attracts flies who eat the mushroom and drink the milk and subsequently die.

Mushrooms are also used for bioremediation, or cleaning up the environment. They’re able to break down oil and other environmental contaminants. Fungus can also help to make better compost.

Scientists are researching many new ways to use mushrooms and coming up with new fungi-based inventions every year. Including using mushrooms in biofuels, packaging, cleaning products, textiles, and even as building materials!


Identifying mushrooms requires a basic understanding of their macroscopic structure. Most are Basidiomycetes and gilled. Their spores, called basidiospores, are produced on the gills and fall in a fine rain of powder from under the caps as a result. At the microscopic level, the basidiospores are shot off of basidia and then fall between the gills in the dead air space. As a result, for most mushrooms, if the cap is cut off and placed gill-side-down overnight, a powdery impression reflecting the shape of the gills (or pores, or spines, etc.) is formed (when the fruiting body is sporulating). The color of the powdery print, called a spore print, is used to help classify mushrooms and can help to identify them. Spore print colors include white (most common), brown, black, purple-brown, pink, yellow, and cream, but almost never blue, green, or red.

While modern scientific identification of mushrooms is quickly becoming molecular, the standard methods for identification are still used by most and have developed into a fine art harking back to medieval times and the Victorian era. This ancient art is combined with microscopic examination. The presence of juices upon breaking, bruising reactions, odors, tastes, shades of color, habitat, habit, and season are all considered by mycologists, amateur and professional alike. Tasting and smelling mushrooms carries its own hazards because of poisons and allergens. Chemical spot tests are also used for some genera.

In general, identification to genus can often be accomplished in the field using a local mushroom guide. Identification to species, however, requires more effort; one must remember that a mushroom develops from a button stage into a mature structure, and only the latter can provide certain characteristics needed for the identification of the species. However, over-mature specimens lose features and cease producing spores. Many novices have mistaken humid water marks on paper for white spore prints, or discolored paper from oozing liquids on lamella edges for colored spore prints.

Classifying Mushrooms Based On How They Grow

In addition to classifying mushrooms into categories like wild, cultivated, poisonous, etc. we can also organize them a more scientific way. By how they grow, and what they feed on.

1) Saprotrophic Mushrooms

These kinds of mushrooms grow on dead matter. They release enzymes and acids that break tissue down into smaller pieces that they can absorb and get nutrients from.

Saprotrophic mushrooms can grow on decaying plants, wood, and even dead animals. Saprotrophs are an important part of the food chain and are a big reason why there isn’t dead matter laying all over the ground.

These mushrooms recycle dead material into soil and compost.

Saprotrophs include some of the most common mushrooms we’ve talked about so far. Including oysters, button mushrooms, shiitake, reishi, morels, puffballs, enoki, and more.

2) Mycorrhizal Mushrooms

These are mushrooms that have a symbiotic relationship with trees and other plants. The mycelium (basically the roots of mushrooms) weave themselves into the roots of other plants.

The mushrooms give extra moisture and other nutrients to the plants they pair with. And in return, the plant gives them sugars in return.

We’re just now starting to learn what a huge benefit mycorrhizal fungi have on plants.

They allow them to grow stronger, larger, and faster.

In fact, it’s estimated that 95% of plants take advantage of beneficial relationships with mycorrhizal fungi.

Some common mycorrhizal mushrooms include truffles, porcini, chanterelles, and matsutake.

3) Parasitic Mushrooms

Unlike mycorrhizal mushrooms, the parasitic mushrooms just take and don’t give anything back. Given enough time, a parasitic mushroom will completely infect its host plant and kill it.

Some parasitic mushrooms include chaga, lion’s mane, and honey fungus.

Parasitic mushrooms don’t just limit themselves to trees and plants though. The caterpillar fungus (cordyceps sinesis) preys on insects, killing them and eventually growing out of their heads!

4) Endophytes

Endophytic fungi are still a bit of a mystery to scientists. They invade plant tissue like a parasitic mushroom. But the plant stays healthy and seems to gain an increased immunity to disease and absorbs nutrients more easily.

However, endophytes are also considered mycorrhizal since they can be cultivated without a host plant to grow inside of as well.

Some endophytes produce mushrooms, while others never emerge from their host until it dies.

There is still a lot of study going on surrounding endophytes, and it’s expected that some saprophytic or parasitic fungi will likely be recategorized as endophytes in the future as we determine exactly what defines these curious fungi.