How to Identify Mushrooms and Where to Find Them
By Linnea Gillman and Jason Salzman
When folks who hate mushrooms see one in the forest, they can simply hike in the other steering. But when people who hate mushrooms see one growing in their lawns, a deep anger emerges that, in many cases, only subsides when they kick or chemically exterminate the passive mushrooms from the supergrass.
It ’ randomness time to look at a mushroom in the grass not as a threat but as an opportunity. Lawns and gardens offer you a invest to overcome your fear of fungus .
The first step to shedding mycophobia is to learn how to identify mushrooms. once you get going, you ’ ll soon be identifying mushrooms equitable like you can identify broccoli in the supermarket or your uncle in New York. Mushrooms emerging from the lawn will look like erstwhile friends. It merely takes a little prison term and solitaire .
The best way to start is to set a goal of learning to identify a half twelve mushrooms in your first season. This avoids the trouble of being overwhelmed and discouraged by all the eldritch mushroom characteristics and impossible-to-pronounce-and-remember Latin names. Start slow and add to your cognition base each year .
How to Find Mushrooms
Your first bluff move toward identifying mushrooms is to find them. Equip yourself with a pocket knife, a sack or backpack, and a bankroll of wax paper for wrapping specimens. Walk, ride your motorcycle ( our preferred method acting ), or — if you must — drive your car around the vicinity and see what you find .
In urban areas, mushrooms can literally grow anywhere, from your basement to the empty bunch next door. Look in pot, under bushes, along streams, on wood, in flower pots. There ’ sulfur no confidential to it. Over prison term, however, you will learn which habitats your darling mushrooms like and when they might grow, and you will look there first. here ’ s the effect of how to do it : We know that oyster mushrooms like to grow in the spring ( if it ’ randomness been wet ) on white basswood stumps in my back yard. That ’ second where we look first. adjacent, we check any stump we can find, particularly stumps from the kinds of trees that we know oysters like to grow on .
Most city mushrooms grow in lawns or flower beds with or without manure or wood chip mulch and on survive trees or wood stumps. But other sites are besides productive — empty lots, under trees, and indoors in flower pots. Unkempt lawns, infrequently mowed, with weeds ( spared from herbicides ) are the most productive. Some coarse urban species tend to grow in or near disturbed areas. For exercise, look for the urban mushroom ( Agaricus bitorquis ) in hard-packed dirt ; the shagged mane ( Coprinus comatu south ) along wayside ; and puffballs near curb. early preferences appear more specific — stinkhorns ( Phallus impudicus ) under lavender ; shaggy parasol under spruce up trees ; and japanese parasol ( Parasola plicatilis ) under hawthorn trees. Keep an center out for the domicile cup fungus ( Peziza domiciliana ) growing in the basement on damp walls and carpets .
Combine your cognition of where mushrooms like to grow with your insight on when they like to grow there. For example, most mushrooms grow in Denver in April through September. The winter mushroom ( Flammulina velutipes ) appears earlier and survives late. The mica crown ( Coprinus micaceous ) is besides most common in leap and twilight. You ’ re more probable to find the shagged parasol ( Lepiota rachodes ) and the ink-black cap ( Coprinus atramentaria ) in the drop. The fagot ring mushroom is around all summer long .
moisture, of course, is besides key. irrigation by the city and property owners stabilizes establish moisture, supporting mushroom growth flush in dry periods. however, a soaking rain will trigger the most intense fruitings. Look in the north- and east-facing lawns and gardens after a rain. These areas, in the shadows of houses in the hottest times of the day stay wet longer than the west and south-facing sides. Puffballs ( for example, Lycoperdon species ) and their relatives are most tolerant to drought. The fagot ring mushroom will dry out and then reconstitute following a rain .
How to Pick Mushrooms
once you ’ ve discover mushrooms, you need to determine whether they are growing on private or public property. If it ’ randomness private, necessitate license from the property owner to pick them. Most of fourth dimension, you ’ ll be encouraged to remove a many as potential. ( visit discussion in Introduction. )
Pick mushrooms carefully in decree to preserve the characteristics that you will need to identify the fungus late .
- Dig the mushroom out completely, making sure you extract the entire stem from the ground. Important mushroom characters are sometimes found at the base of the stem.
- Collect samples of all ages. Different characters emerge as the mushroom grows.
- Note where you found the mushroom and its habitat–or write down this information on a label. Was it under trees? If so, what kind? Was it growing from grass? Was it growing in a partial circle or fairy ring?
- Roll up your specimen–with your label– in a piece of wax paper and twist the ends as shown. This will protect it so you can study it in more detail later.
How to Identify Mushrooms
When you ’ re finished with your mushroom hunt, gather in concert and unwrap the mushrooms that you ’ ve determine. It ’ sulfur well to have an experience collector on hand to help you identify them. But a careful novice with a couple mushroom field guides can begin to identify mushrooms .
Examine your collections one at a time. There is no individual principle that allows you to determine if a mushroom is edible. similarly, it would be wrong to say that all white mushrooms are edible. Or all brown ones or all crimson ones. The merely direction to identify a angry mushroom is to know the characteristics of the mushroom that you are identifying. The best direction to avoid making mistakes is to know not only the mushroom you want, but besides mushrooms that look like your coveted mushrooms. If you know your “ lookalikes, ” you are less likely to misidentify mushrooms as a resultant role of your failure to note a match key characteristics .
Flowers aren ’ t the lone things that smell in the garden. Mushrooms have amazing smells, which can help with designation. The corn silk smack of some Inocybe species takes some people binding to their childhoods of eating fresh corn every day, all summer long. Don ’ t miss one of the identical clear-cut characteristics of a mushroom and find out where it can transport you .
here are a few mushrooms that you can sniff from lawns and gardens .
- Agaricus xanthodermus: creosote or medicinal
- Agaricus augustus: anise or marzipan
- Inocybe sp: corn silk or spermatic
- Phallus impudicus: fetid, to put it mildly
not all mushrooms are the same to touch. They are fuzzed, slimed, dry, smooth, barbed, hairy, lepidote, bendable and more. It ’ s authoritative to note how the mushroom feels .
once you ’ ve learned a bit about mushrooms, you can begin tasting them to help you identify them. For case, Russula emetica is intensely bitter. Take a humble while on the point of your tongue, hold it there for a few seconds, and then spit it out. If you spit it out, it won ’ triiodothyronine damage you .
Make a Spore Print
mushroom spores come in all colors from white and black to pink and purple. Determining the coloring material of a mushroom ’ sulfur spores can help you identify the fungus. even though spores are microscopic, you can frequently figure out their color by making a “ spore print. ” Most city mushrooms produce spores on gills, which are the blade-like structures on the bottom of a mushroom ’ second cap. To make a spore mark, place the mature mushroom, gills facing down, on a white piece of paper. Cover it and leave it for a couple hours, and you may find a beautiful — and delicate — spore print .
Mushrooms that don ’ t have gills produce spores in other structures. A puffball, which starts as a solid white mass, lento dries out, last puffing out dust-like spores when it is squeezed or disturbed. Some mushrooms produce spores in “ pores, ” which appear under the cap alternatively of gills. other mushrooms make spores on “ tooth, ” spine-like structures under the capital .
Look for a Cup, a Ring or Warts
In addition to producing spores of unlike colors, mushrooms grow early structures that provide clues to their identities. For example, the diagram below illustrates the growth of mushrooms in the genus Amanita. It starts ( in design below ) as an “ testis ” or “ button, ” covered with a “ cosmopolitan veil. ” When it emerges from the button ( in digit two ), the remains of the universal veil leave the “ cup ” or “ volva ” at the base and the “ patches ” or “ warts ” on the top of the ceiling. At this stagecoach, a “ partial derivative veil ” connects the ceiling to the stem, covering the gills. When the cap expands from the bow ( in visualize 3 ), the gills become visible, and the remains of the partial derivative veil form a “ ring ” on the bow. If a mushroom that you ’ ve receive has these structures — and other information is reproducible — you may conclude that you ’ ve found an Amanita. But you must be exhaustive because other branchiate and non-gilled mushrooms may have these structures, such as a ring or cup, ampere well .
Look at the Shape of the Cap
Mushroom caps come in many different shapes. You should look cautiously at the mushroom ’ sulfur detonator during versatile stages of exploitation. Some young mushroom caps may be conic of convex, later becoming plane or depressed. besides be on the lookout for little variations in cap form, such as a “ knob ” or “ umbo ” on top .
Look at How the Gills Attach to the Cap
A mushroom ’ south gills — if it has gills — attach to the shank in respective ways. Some gills are not attached to the stalk at all. These are called “ free ” gills. Others are decurrent, running down the stalk. It can sometimes be difficult to determine precisely how the gills attach to the stem without looking at specimens of varying ages.
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Look at the Shape of the Stem
mushroom stems are shaped in classifiable ways, from “ bulblike to “ equal. ” Again, it ’ mho best to look at a act of specimens
Look at How the Stem Emerges from the Cap
The stem of a mushroom attaches to the cap in a variety of ways. In some cases, of run, there is no stem at all — or no cap for that matter. In other cases, the stem comes from the center field of the crown .
Look at the Colors and Markings
When you start to look at person mushrooms in more detail, the amount of amazing stuff to see expands exponentially. And all of it can provide clues to the mushroom ’ mho identity. For exercise, mushrooms can vary in color from all shades of brown to all shades of red. They can disintegrate into an ink-black mess. They can have striated or smooth caps. They can have scaly, dotted, or hairy stems. even the hoop on the stem can have classifiable — and beautiful — forms. The best mushroom identifiers hone their skills of observation, allowing them not lone to classify mushrooms more accurately but to more profoundly admire these incredible organisms .
Look Through a Microscope
This web site aims to help you identify mushrooms in the field, under the swing hardening if necessity. In fact, many mushrooms can be identified adequately wherever you find them with the avail of this field guidebook ( and possibly a match early for cross-check ), peculiarly if specimens of varying maturities are available .
however, it is impossible to identify many mushrooms with certainty without checking microscopic characteristics. so, if you get serious about trying to put a complete name on all mushrooms you find, you ’ ll have to learn how to handle a microscope. If you do, you ’ ll find a new global of spore shapes ( spiked, ribbed, lumpy, ball-shaped, elliptic ), reactions, and colors to observe. You ’ ll besides have to buy another mushroom field lead because this one does not cover microscopic characters
How to Name Mushrooms
Most mushrooms have both a “ common diagnose ” ( for example, chanterelle ) and a Latin “ scientific name ” ( for example, Cantharellus cibarius ). Unlike most amateur bird watchers or butterfly hunters, who converse about birds and butterflies using common names like Robin or Tiger Swallowtail, most amateur mushroom hunters refer to scientific names when talking about mushrooms. This creates headaches for beginners, because they are forced not only to remember what a mushroom looks like but besides how to pronounce its obscure diagnose .
Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate give up on scientific names, even if it seems that—at first—learning them is an drill in futility. The best way to learn about mushrooms is to seek out fellow mushroom hunters from your local mushroom club and discus mushrooms with them. And if you are going to talk to them or early people who know about mushrooms, you need to know the scientific names. ( Don ’ t be afraid. Most mushroom hunters are nice, evening though they use scientific names and even if they don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate order you where their favorite mushroom-collecting spots are located. )
Most mushroom guides assemble mushrooms into groups based on their shapes, and there are all kinds of strange and fantastic forms. Most of our city mushrooms are in the group “ gilled fungus ”, but many of the other groups are represented besides .
Mushroom Identity Disorders
If you ignore our advice and use coarse names for mushrooms, you ’ ll find that they can differ radically from one field lead to another. For example, one familiar urban mushroom called Chlorophyllum molybdites has been given the coarse list of “ Vomiter. ” But another common name is “ Green-spored Lepiota. ” Vomiter is our name of option for this mushroom, but some of our mushroom friends have no idea what this means. Conversely, some mushrooms have no coarse names at all .
Scientific names for mushrooms can be confusing for the lapp reasons, but they are normally less confuse. For exercise, just as some mushrooms have no common names, some have no scientific names. Though it may seem strange given our historic period of technical advancements, many mushrooms have even to be described and classified by scientists. so, believe it or not, you may find a mushroom in your yard that is strange to science .
In addition, scientific names change as more information becomes available. As a consequence, older field guides may have unlike scientific names for certain mushrooms than newer ones. For exemplar, Lepiota rachodes in the democratic guide books is now Chlorophyllum rhacodes .
What is a elementary mushroom hunter to do ? Again, we recommend learning and using scientific names, keeping in heed that — while name changes occur — they affect a relatively small count of mushrooms. Most crucial, the amateur needs to remember this : regardless of what appoint you use for a mushroom — an old name or a newly name, a park name or a scientific list — make certain you ’ ra plus your mushroom is what you think it is. If mycologists change the name of a mushroom that you ’ ve been collecting and eating for two years, it ’ mho still the lapp mushroom after its identify has been changed. It ’ s up to you to know the mushroom .
— — —
sometimes all the argue about names can irritate amateurs a morsel, but it ’ sulfur part of an important scientific process unfolding in movement of us. The real difficulty comes when you have to decide on a name, which a Jason did years ago. He wrote this letter to his friends :
My wife had a baby on February 26 at 5:20 post meridiem We were hoping for a human, but it looks to me like we ’ ve got a mushroom on our hands. I don ’ triiodothyronine know how, but we ’ ve created a mushroom .
He ’ randomness classify of like a bantam Marasmius, with a pin headway and a long soundbox. ( He was two weeks early, weighing about six lbs. ) He ’ s now starting to enlarge at the base and vertex .
Since we ’ ve got a mushroom, we thought we ’ d give him a mushroom name .
But why burden him with a romance mention ? All his life people would ask, “ How do you spell it ? ” They ’ five hundred decidedly butcher the pronunciation. And you can be sure that mid-way through his life a professional mycologist would change his Latin list, confusing his friends and prompting his parents to hire their own professional mycologist to refute the name change. And there would be wars in the mushroom journals .
so, since we are both oppose to war, we discussed giving him a common name, alternatively of a latin identify. We figure that, even if we gave him a Latin name, some people would insist on using the common identify anyhow. They ’ vitamin d call him something like “ crying Marasmius. ”
But then, no doubt, another amateurish mycologist would dispute the common name, claiming that his substantial common name is “ pooping crib-dweller. ”
And there would be more wars in the mushroom journals .
All of this potential insanity about his name persuaded us to drop the estimate of a total mushroom name and go with “ Dylan Button Lund, ” retaining the mushroom middle name .
In the end, we decided we couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate wholly deny that he is a mushroom. We figured that with a mushroom middle name ( Button ), evening the most dreadfully anal mycologist wouldn ’ triiodothyronine fight over it. Who cares about a middle appoint ? And what mushroom has one ?
And besides, the nurses in the hospital loved it. In fact, they suggested we plainly use Baby Button. But these nurses didn ’ triiodothyronine understand the deep emotional scars that Dylan could have sustained from the mycological world .
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