Field Guide for Mushrooms

Field Guide for MushroomsThere are good reasons why anyone who loves being in the great outdoors should want to learn about identifying and collecting edible mushrooms. First, it is a great way to combine a walk in the woods with putting food on the table, whether that be at home or at the campground. Second, mushroom knowledge is a survival skill. Nevertheless, you need quality information on mushrooms before you start picking them, as identification can be tricky and many mushrooms are poisonous.

Warning Signs (pictured above)

Unfortunately, there are so many types of mushrooms that a blanket checklist of edible-mushroom characteristics just isn't available. However, there are some warning signs that help you steer clear of danger. If your mushroom has a ring around the upper part of the stem, and a cup or knob at the base, then it could bea poisonous Amanita. Take extreme care in making a positive identification of any mushroom with these two features.


Morels are a good edible mushroom to pursue. They are both tasty and easy to separate from "false morels," or those poisonous mushrooms with a similar appearance. These are forest mushrooms, and they are best found in areas with damp, sandy forest floors, with the peak season for them being in the mid-to-late spring. They come in a variety of colors and have a mottled, pitted, honeycomb-like cap. The surest way to tell the difference between a real morel and a false one is to cut it in half. If it has a large, hollow cavity inside the cap, it is a true morel and completely safe to eat.

Black Trumpets

These mushrooms are good targets for collecting because there aren't any poisonous mushrooms that resemble them. They are easily identified by their dark brown, grey or black color and their shape, which makes them look something like a pitcher or trumpet growing up out of the ground. They are in season through August and are best found growing around oak trees.


The Hen of the Woods, or Maitake as it is known in Japan, tends to be a very big, meaty mushroom. It resembles a head of lettuce made of fungus, and comes in colors ranging from white to tan to gray. The Maitake season begins in late summer and extends into mid-November, depending on how far north you are living. Like black trumpets, the best place to look for them is around oak trees.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.