Edible Mushrooms A-Z

Safety equals success when it comes to foraging for food, and sure identification is an absolute must when gathering anything from the wild for you or your family’s consumption. If you are in any doubt at all about what exactly it is you have collected, then you must discard it immediately. Please read my Staying Alive post before heading out in search of mushrooms.

As you will notice in this list, different mushrooms have different coloured spores. Click the link to find out How To Take A Spore Print, and also view my Spore Print Gallery to help with your identification.

This list will grow with this blog so keep checking for new entries. Click on the name of each mushroom for the corresponding blog post.

The Common Puffball

  • A round mushroom without a cap, 2-5cm in diameter, covered in tiny, fragile spines that scrape off to the touch.

    Common Puffball

    The Common Puffball: notice the covering of fragile spines.

  • Pure white skin and flesh when young and prime for eating; skin browning slightly with age, and the interior flesh becoming a muddy-yellow colour like the filter of a smoked cigarette.
  • A definite stem (unlike Earth Balls).
  • Habitat: Woodland.
  • Season: Summer to autumn.
  • Similar Species: Possible confusion with the poisonous Earth Ball

The Giant Puffball

  • A huge mushroom, growing sometimes to over a metre in diameter, though roughly Giant Puffballfootball-sized is the average.
  • Spherical, though can sometimes become a bit bent out of shape during growth.
  • White/murky cream skin.
  • White flesh when young and spongy, becoming yellowy with age and past best for eating.
  • Habitat: Pasture, beneath hedges, occasionally roadsides.
  • Season: Summer to autumn.
  • Similar Species: None

The Horse Mushroom

  • The Horse MushroomCap: creamy/0ff-white, bruising and aging yellow, sometimes slightly scaly. 12-25cm when open and mature; round and firm when young and unopened.
  • Stem: always rounded, white/off-white. Sometimes woolly. 6-15cm. Does not stain yellow when cut at the base.
  • Gills: cream, when very young, turning pink, then finally deep brown.
  • Ring: large and floppy.
  • Flesh: white. The whole mushroom smells sweetly of aniseed.

    The Yellow Stainer (left) and Horse Mushroom (right)

    The Yellow Stainer (left) and Horse Mushroom (right)

  • Spores: brown – see my Spore Print Gallery.
  • Season: late summer to late autumn.
  • Similar Species: Field Mushrooms, The Prince, Macro Mushroom, the Yellow Stainer (poisonous). The Yellow Stainer is a seriously poisonous mushroom, which you will want to avoid at all costs. Just make sure that when you cut the base of your Horse Mushrooms they do not stain yellow.

The Shaggy ParasolThe Shaggy Parasol

  • Cap: 6-15cm, cream, with fleecey and indeed shaggy scales that are often slightly grey or brown.
  • Stem: 10-18cm, cream, smooth, like the bone of a cooked chicken leg, always bulbous at the base.
  • Gills: usually whiter than the cap, bruising pink/muddy red, and detached from stem.

    The Shaggy Parasol

    The white gills of the Shaggy Parasol. Notice the pink bruising on the gills where I have pressed my thumb, and also the muddy redness of the stem where it has been removed. Click picture to enlarge.

  • Ring: double layered, moveable.
  • Flesh: white, though bruising immediately muddy red upon cutting or tearing.
  • Spores: white (click here to find out how to take a spore print).
  • Season: summer and autumn.

The Stump Puffball

  • Stump PuffballA round mushroom without a cap, 3-5cm in diameter, with a tapering stem giving the mushroom a pear-shaped or lightbulb appearance.
  • Skin browner than the Common Puffball, and spines that are much finer.
  • White flesh when young and good to eat, becoming yellowy with age.
  • Grows in clusters.
  • Habitat: Grows always on tree stumps.
  • Season: Autumn.
  • Similar Species: Possible confusion with the poisonous Earth Ball

Wood BlewitsWood Blewits

  • Cap 5-10cm (and sometimes much larger, but will usually be a little too ‘ripe’ to pick at this stage). Lilac, though becoming a rusty tan colour as the mushroom matures. The edge of the cap in-curls underneath towards the gills.
  • Gills are lilac, though fade somewhat with age, but never turn brown. They are very crowded.
  • Stem 5-10cm, lilac and fibrous, and alwaysa little swollen at the base which will pull up a lot of the forest floor with it when picked.

    Wood Blewits

    The lilac Gills of the Wood Blewit. Notice the inrolling margin of the slightly tan cap, and the lilac, fibrous stems.

  • Must be cooked before consumption.
  • Flesh is lilac, and has a strong aromatic smell – wine-gummy, or warm orange.
  • Spores are pale pink.
  • Habitat: All types of woodland, and sometimes in pasture.
  • Season: Late autumn to early winter.
  • Similar Species: The edible Amethyst Deceiver is also a lilac mushroom. But there are some poisonous lookalikes such as the Lilac Fibrecap which is deadly (though is generally a summer species), but I refer you to Wild About Britain so that you may be 100% positive. Some Webcaps are also lilac and also must be avoided, and i refer you to Rogers Mushrooms so you may familiarize yourself with this genus.

One Response to Edible Mushrooms A-Z

  1. Pingback: The Horse Mushroom: Back in Business | First Time Foragers: Recipes and Stories for Beginners

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