How Do You Identify Different Types of Mushrooms?


Quick Answer

Identify different types of mushrooms by carefully examining the gills, stalks and caps. Also identify mushrooms by spore color, smell and habitat. The time of year a mushroom is found can also aid in identification, according to the Mushroom Appreciation basic mushroom identification guide.

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Full Answer

Known to mycologists as lamellae, mushroom gills are thin structures under the cap of some mushrooms. Gilled mushrooms use gill tissue to produce spores. When examining a mushroom, check for the presence of gills, and note how or if they are attached to the stalk. Gilled mushrooms include oyster mushrooms which have wide gills that extend from the cap all the way down the stalk. Amanita and portobello are mushrooms with gills that do not attach to the stalk. Porcini is a variety of mushroom that features pores instead of gills. Like gills, the pores on the underside of certain mushrooms make spores.

Technically known as a stipe, a mushroom stalk reveals much about a mushroom. Note whether the stalk is solid or hollow. Pinch the stalk, and note if it bruises or if a fluid is released. Check for scales and the remnants of a veil. Note the texture of the stalk to help identify a mushroom.

Use great caution when identifying mushrooms. There are thousands of mushroom varieties, and some of them are very toxic to humans.

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