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Thread: 9 common, wide spread, easily recognized mushrooms

  1. #1
    aldankirk
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    Default 9 common, wide spread, easily recognized mushrooms

    I was asked by Steve_t to develop a list of 10 common mushrooms. I was only able to come up with 9 that are readily available, and have distinct enough characteristics that they would be easily identified by a novice mushroom hunter. In the following list, I have included my description, as well as the description from the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North Amreican Mushrooms. I did this because I wanted to make sure to provide as much information as possible.

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    Beefsteak Polypore (Fistulina hepatica)



    Range:

    Note: Wide ranging genus, but more common in the Eastern US

    Identifying characteristics:
    This mushroom looks and tastes remarkably like beefsteak. Like a steak, it is pink inside, gelatinous and marbled in appearance. When it's young, it even bleeds a reddish juice when you cut it. As it ages, the color fades to reddish-brown, and the flesh dries out. The cap is 3" - 10" wide, and " - 1" thick, spoon-shaped to fan-shaped, flat, reddish, soft, and slimy. The pores on the underside are very small, almost too small for my old eyes to make out.

    Field guide description:
    Fleshy, somewhat gelatinous, juicy, spoon-shaped, to semicircular, flat, reddish cap with separate tubes and off-white to pinkish-yellow pores. The cap of this mushroom can be 3"-10" wide, while the flesh is 2-2" thick. When present the stalk can be 2"-4" long, and 3/8"-1" thick, very short, and blood-red. Spores are oval, smooth, colorless to pale yellow. Spore print pinkish-salmon.

    Spore Print:
    Pinkish-salmon

    Habitat:
    On dead oak trunks and stumps, or at base of living oaks.

    Cautions:
    None

    Season:
    July-October

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    King Boletes (Boletus edulis)Cepes, Steinpilz, Porcini, Stensopp, Borowik, Byelii-greeb



    Boletes are a large and diverse genus. For the purpose of this page we will focus on the characteristics of the most common species, the King Bolete. Kings are the widest ranging, and the most popular of the boletes. Chances are, even if you have never ventured into the forest, you have probably eaten a bolete. used extensively in French, and Italian cooking, they are a large meaty mushroom with a nice mellow flavor.

    Range:


    Identifying characteristics:
    Looking somewhat like a hamburger bun on a thick stalk, this large reddish-brown capped mushroom has an underside of spongy white, yellowish, olive, orange, red, or brownish pores, rather than gills. This pore layer is easily pulled away from the cap. The cap size can be up to 10" wide. king boletes can also be up to 10" tall. Of the couple of hundred species of boletes, the King Bolete (Boletus edulis) is by far the most tasty.

    Field guide description:
    Cap: Large with a reddish-brown cap 3"-10" wide, convex, becoming nearly flat. In wet weather the cap is moist to sticky, but can be smooth to somewhat pitted, and sometimes cracking in dry weather; brown, reddish-brown or cinnamon-buff. Flesh white.
    Tubes: sunken around stalk; whitish, becoming greenish-yellow. Pores small and round; white when young, sometimes bruising tawny.
    Stalk: are 4"-10" long and "-1 5/8" thick and club shaped, or 1 5/8"-4" thick and bulbous.; whitish to brownish, white-webbed over upper 1/3; webbing below darker, often indistinct. Flesh white.
    Spores: 13-19 x 4-6.5 ; smooth elliptical.

    Spore Print:
    Olive-brown

    Habitat:
    Typically found on the ground under pine, hemlock, birch, or aspen trees.

    Cautions:
    This mushroom has many varieties of different color, shape, size, and habitat, but all are good to eat.

    Season:
    June - October

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    Chanterelles (Cantharellus spp.)


    Range:


    Identifying characteristics:
    Chanterelles are funnel-or trumpet-shaped and have wavy edged caps. They are generally up to 6" tall, and 6" wide. Most are bright orange or yellow, although one, the black trumpet, is brownish-black. Fresh chanterelles have a pleasant, fruity fragrance. On the underside of the cap they have the appearance of gills; but they are actually blunt edged, cross-veined, forked ridges on the underside of the cap running down the stem. To ensure you have a Chanterelle, rather than the toxic jack o'lantern mushroom, check the underside of the cap; If you have sharp gills, you most likely have the jack o'lantern.

    Field guide description:
    Bright yellow to orange cap with wavy margin and yellow-orange, forked, thick-edged ridges descending stalk; fragrant. The Chanterelle does not have true gills, but merely forked ridges descending the stalk; this is the easiest way to differentiate them from the poisonous look a like the Jack O'Lantern.
    Cap: 3/8" - 6" wide; convex, becoming flat with inrolled wavy margin, sunken in center; somewhat finely hairy or fibrous to smooth; yellow to orange-yellow. Odorless or with fragrance like apricots; taste mild to spicy-peppery.
    Fertile surface: Narrow, thickened ridges, forked and crossveined, nearly distant descending stalk; pale yellow to orange.
    Stalk: 1" - 3" long, " - 1" thick, sometimes enlarged at either end; smooth or with small, flattened fibers; yellowish to whitish, sometimes bruising orange. Flesh solid, white.
    Spores: 8-11 x 4-6; elliptical, smooth, colorless.

    Spore Print:
    Pale buff to pale yellow.

    Habitat:
    Single to many, on ground under oaks to conifers.

    Cautions:
    Beware of confusing the chanterelle with the toxic Jack O'Lantern, see the box below.

    Season:
    June - September in the Southeast; July - August in the Northeast; September - November in the Northwest; February in California.

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    Chicken Mushroom (Laetiporus sulphureus)Sulfur Shelf



    Range:


    Identifying characteristics:
    Chicken of the Woods mushrooms have brilliant orange-red caps and pale sulfur-yellow pore surfaces. As the mushroom ages, it fades to peach or white. Being a true polypore, L. sulphureus always grows on wood; either the trunk of an oak above the ground, or on a fallen log at the height that would have been above the ground. I have also found this mushroom growing on the roots at the base of a tree, but that is rare. The caps are semicircular to fan shaped, and can grow up to a foot wide. They usually grow in groups. I have harvested 20 or more pounds from a single tree.

    Field guide description:
    Single to overlapping clusters of fleshy, smooth, orange-red to orange-yellow caps with sulfur-yellow spores.
    Cap: 2" - 12" wide; usually overlapping, flat, semicircular to fan-shaped; salmon to sulfur-yellow to bright orange, weathering to white; smooth. Flesh " - 1" thick, white, light yellow or pale salmon.
    Tubes: 1 - 4 mm long. Pores 2 - 4 per mm, angular, bright sulfur-yellow.
    Stalk: (when present) rudimentary.
    Spores: 5 - 7 x 3.5 - 5 ; broadly elliptical to almost round, smooth, colorless.

    Spore Print:
    White

    Habitat:
    On stumps, trunks, and logs of deciduous trees; also on living trees and buried roots.

    Cautions:
    This mushroom becomes somewhat indigestible as it ages, and in some, causes an allergic reaction, such as swollen lips. Specimens from a few tree hosts, such as eucalyptus, can cause digestive upset. A variety, L. semialbinus, has a salmon colored cap and white pores.

    Season:
    May - September

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    Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa)


    Range:


    Identifying characteristics:
    This mushroom is huge, with some specimens reaching 100 lbs or more; It really does look like a large, ruffled chicken, or partridge. It grows from a central point similar to that of a bouquet of grayish-brown, fan-shaped, overlapping caps. The stalks are off center, white, and branching from a single thick base. The underside pore surface is white.

    Field guide description:
    Large, clustered mass of grayish-brown, fleshy, spoon shaped caps with whitish pores and lateral, white stalks branching from a compound base.
    Caps: " - 2" wide; overlapping, flat, fan to spoon shaped; grayish to gray-brown; dry, smooth or finely fibrous to roughened. Flesh 3 - 5 mm thick. White.
    Tubes: 2 - 3 mm long; descending stalk. pores (1 -3 per mm) angular, white to yellowish.
    Stalk: rudimentary or very short and thick; many-branched; white, smooth.
    Spores: 5 - 7 x 3.5 - 5 ; broadly elliptical, smooth, colorless.

    Spore Print:
    White

    Habitat:
    On ground at base of oak and other deciduous trees, and some conifers; also on stumps.

    Cautions:
    Remember that many gilled mushrooms grow in large clumps, but hen-of-the-woods is a pore fungus, and does not have gills. There are some similar species of pore fungi that are tough and inedible. If what you have tastes leathery and unpleasant, chances are you did not pick a Hen of the Woods.

    Season:
    September - November

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  2. #2
    aldankirk
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    Here is the final part of the list...


    Morels (Morchella spp.)



    Range:


    Identifying characteristics:
    Morels are a very distinct genus of mushrooms. Looking somewhat like a pine cone on a stalk, morels have a spongy, porous, honeycombed appearance. The stems and caps are hollow. The caps of the white morel are white ridged, with tan pores, and as they age, the ridges and pores become yellowish, changing the name to the yellow morel. I have even heard tell of yellow morels which, in perfect conditions, grow to a foot tall, and become giant morels. I have yet to see this phenomenon, so I lend these fables the same weight as I do stories of unicorns, and fairies. The black morel has black ridges with tan pores. The black morel tends to become darker with age. When the cap has turned predominately to all black, it is unpalatable. Morels only have one look a like; Ascomycete spp., or false morels are a group of mushrooms which at first glance appear to be morels, but upon closer scrutiny their differences become glaringly obvious. While Morels have a porous surface, the surface of false morels have a brain-like appearance.

    Field guide description:
    The black morel; Black ribbed, honeycombed cap on whitish stalk.
    Cap: " - 1 5/8" wide, " - 2" high; elongate and narrowly conical; with dark gray to black longitudinal and radial ribs (sometimes irregular), and long, yellow-brown pits; attached to stalk at base; hollow.
    Stalk: 2" - 4" long, " - 1 5/8" thick; whitish, granular to mealy; hollow.
    Spores: 24 - 28 x 12 - 14 ; elliptical, smooth, located in pits.

    Habitat:
    Moist woodlands, old orchards, burned areas, coniferous forests especially spruce, sandy soils.

    Cautions:
    While a very tasty edible, some people do experience gastric upset when eating black morels. This may be due to the fact that black morels are thought to be composed of numerous varieties. This means that a person can eat black morels one time with no ill effect, and end up sick to their stomachs the next time.

    Season:
    April - May

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    Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)



    Range:


    Identifying characteristics:
    A large white, tan or ivory-colored mushroom, it gets is name for the oyster shell-like shape of its cap, which is 2" - 8" wide. The mushroom has white gills running down a short, off center stem, and the flesh is very soft. P. ostreatus is usually found in large clusters of overlapping caps and always on wood.

    Field guide description:
    Broad, fleshy, white, gray or brown cap with broad, whitish or yellow tinged gills arising from attachment to wood or small, hairy, stub-like stalk; on wood.
    Cap: 2" - 8" wide; oyster shaped, semicircular to elongated; margin lobed to wavy at times; moist, smooth; white to ash or brownish. Flesh thick, white. Odor pleasant.
    Gills: descending stalk, close to nearly distant, narrow to broad, thick; white, becoming yellowish.
    Stalk: (when present), " - 3/8" long, " - - 3/8" thick; off center to lateral, short, stout, solid; dry, white-hairy.
    Spores: 7 - 9 x 3 - 3.5 ; narrowly elliptical, smooth, colorless.

    Spore Print:
    White to pale lilac-gray.

    Habitat:
    On many deciduous trees, especially willow and aspen; rarely on pine and hemlock; sometimes on burried stumps.

    Cautions:
    This choice edible should be checked for white grubs.

    Season:
    This is one mushroom that can be enjoyed year round under favorable conditions.

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    Puffballs (Lycoperdon spp. and Calvatia spp.)



    Range:


    Identifying characteristics:
    Puffballs can be enormous; sometimes up to 2 feet in diameter. Depending on their size, puffballs can be mistaken for everything from golf balls to soccer balls. These round or pear-shaped mushrooms are almost always whitish, tan or gray and may or may not have a stalk-like base. The surface can be smooth to rough or scaly. The interior of a young choice puffball is solid white; as the mushroom ages the interior gradually turns yellow, then brown. Finally, at the end of its life cycle, the interior changes to a mass of dark, powdery spores.

    Field guide description: (Giant Puffball - Calvatia gigantea)
    Huge, white, smooth sphere, cracking irregularly at maturity; interior white, becoming yellowish-green to brownish.
    Mushroom: 8 - 20" wide, sometimes larger; round or nearly so, with root-like attachment; smooth, kidlike, cracking irregularly; no pore formed at top; white. spore mass white, becoming yellow-green to greenish-brown; no sterile base evident.
    Spores: 3.5-5.5 ; round, smooth to minutely warted, greenish-brown

    Habitat:
    Single or in arc or fairy rings, in open woods, pastures, parks, or lawns.

    Cautions:
    It is important to cut a puffball down the center. You want to make sure the interior is bright white, and has no sighs of any yellow or brown areas. More importantly, it is important to make sure there is not the indication of a developing mushroom with cap, gills, and stem within the mushroom. If there is, you have the extremely poisonous Amanita spp.

    Season:
    Late May - mid July; August - October.

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    Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus)



    A member of the ink cap family, the shaggy mane is large and quite distinctive in appearance. This makes it an excellent target for first novice mushroom hunters. The shaggy mane is the largest of a group of edible mushrooms called inky caps. The field guides listed at the below can help you identify other members of this group as well.

    Range:


    Identifying characteristics:
    The cap of the shaggy mane is long, white, cylindrical, with shaggy, upturned, brownish scales. It is 4"- 6: tall, with whitish gills. As the shaggy mane ages, the cap and gills become black, and inky; they eventually dissolve, leaving only the standing stalk.

    Field guide description:
    Cylindrical, shaggy-scaly, white cap turning inky from liquifying gills.
    Cap: 1" - 2" wide, and 1 5/8" - 6" high; cylindrical, gradually expanding as gills liquify, leaving only stalk; dry, covered with flat scales becoming down-curled; white with light reddish-brown scales.
    Gills: free or nearly so, very crowded; white becoming black and inky from margin to stalk top.
    Stalk: 2 3/8" - 8"long, 3/8" - " thick; bulbous, white; hollow, with central strand of minute fibers.
    Veil: partial veil leaving ring on lower part of stalk.
    Spores: 11-15 x 6.3-8.5 ; smooth, elliptical, blunt, with pore at tip.

    Spore Print:
    Black

    Habitat:
    Scattered to clustered and common, in grass, wood chips, and hard-packed soil.

    Cautions:
    Shaggy manes are best when picked before the caps begin to turn black. Until you become proficient at identifying this edible, it may be necessary to check for the developing ink to make sure you have the correct mushroom.

    Season:
    May - early June: September - October; November-January in Southeast.

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    For more information, and additional pictures, visit my website.

    Some Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    Reference: National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, Lincoff, Knopf, Copyright 1981, 1997
    Last edited by aldankirk; 01-18-2011 at 12:21 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, Aldankirk, 9 is plenty and quite a few of them are common in Eurasia as well, so even I will get some use out of this. Reason I asked is that there are too many variants in many handbooks and you can both spend a lot of time finding what you are looking at, or get them mixed up. Thanks for a small, clear and manageable selection

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    Very nice list, i would add the "meadow Mushroom as # 10 anouther abundit in north america and very choice
    page 153/154 and 505 national audubon looks like your everyday white mushroom - make sure its got BROWN GILLS
    Last edited by BushyBeard; 01-18-2011 at 08:54 PM.

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    Thanks. There's a thin little booklet that I like to recommend to people AFTER they have gone out several times with a trained mycologist in their area. It's called "Start Mushrooming" by Stan Tekiela and Karen Shanberg http://www.amazon.com/Start-Mushroom.../dp/0934860963 It takes the simple tact of pointing out (6) edible fungi in North America that are pretty hard to mistake for others: (morel, oyster, shaggy mane, sulfur shelf, giant puffball and hen-of-the-woods)

    For more in-depth looks I like "A Field Guide to Southern Mushrooms" http://www.amazon.com/Field-Guide-So...5405401&sr=1-1 and "Mushrooms of North America" http://www.amazon.com/Mushrooms-Nort...5405527&sr=1-1, BUT neither of those should be used as a stand alone reference to what is safe to eat without expert guidance. Europeans in the states should take particular heed not to assume that things that appear to be recognizable are identical to what you are used to harvesting and eating elsewhere. We have many lookalikes here that are not edible. If in any doubt, do not eat.

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    thanx for the work on this........great post.........

  7. #7
    aldankirk
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    Quote Originally Posted by beardedbush View Post
    Very nice list, i would add the "meadow Mushroom as # 10 anouther abundit in north america and very choice
    page 153/154 and 505 national audubon looks like your everyday white mushroom - make sure its got BROWN GILLS
    This list is comprised of mushrooms that have at least one easily identifyable characteristic, which makes them easy for the novice hunter. You are correct, the Meadow Mushroom (Agaricus campestris) is a widely available good edible, which is cloely related to the commercially cultivated button mushroom. I did not include it because of its close growth proximity to, and similar characteristics of the deadly white Amanitas. Making a mistake could be deadly. There is simply nothing that definitely identifies the meadow mushroom.

    Kirk

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    Quote Originally Posted by aldankirk View Post
    This list is comprised of mushrooms that have at least one easily identifyable characteristic, which makes them easy for the novice hunter. You are correct, the Meadow Mushroom (Agaricus campestris) is a widely available good edible, which is cloely related to the commercially cultivated button mushroom. I did not include it because of its close growth proximity to, and similar characteristics of the deadly white Amanitas. Making a mistake could be deadly. There is simply nothing that definitely identifies the meadow mushroom.

    Kirk
    Hear ya! well said

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    Talking Mushrooms

    Dont forget theres the psilocyben cubensis. There not much on the nutrition side but they sure eliminate boredom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bivouacjack View Post
    Dont forget theres the psilocyben cubensis. There not much on the nutrition side but they sure eliminate boredom.
    Ha Ha! Take a trip and never leave the farm!

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