How Can You Tell the Difference Between Edible and Poisonous Wild Mushrooms?

Morels and false morels look very much alike, with a wrinkled, honeycombed, brain-matter-like cap. When a false morel is cut open, it displays even more of the cottony, brain-like material that makes up the cap. The true morel is hollow.

The death cap and destroying angel mushrooms are often mistaken for the harmless meadow or button mushrooms, especially when they're young. All of these mushrooms have white, typically mushroom-like caps and gills. Young death caps resemble puffballs, which are also edible. The cap of the death cap is about 6 inches in diameter and sticky. It can have a yellow, brown or green tint. The destroying angel is pure white but also has a type of veil beneath the cap. They grow beneath trees such as oak, pine and dogwood, and they have symbiotic relationships with their roots.

One way to tell the difference between a meadow mushroom and a similar looking poisonous mushroom is to bruise it a bit. The bruise of the meadow mushroom is reddish brown, while the bruise of the poison mushroom is yellow. Puffballs can be identified because they are solid white inside when they are cut in half.

Because it is difficult to tell the difference between edible and poisonous wild mushrooms, no one should pick or eat a wild mushroom without being absolutely sure that it's non-toxic.