A person can identify wild mushrooms by examining their caps, stems, gills and spores. He can also take note of the area, condition and characteristics in which the mushrooms grow, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Before eating any wild mushroom, it is important to make a positive identification to ensure it is edible. If a 100-percent positive identification is not possible, do not eat the wild mushroom.
There are many types of poisonous mushrooms that are look-alikes to edible mushrooms, making the examination of all of a mushroom's parts of utmost importance, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Use multiple field guides to cross-reference pictures and key identification information before making a positive identification of a mushroom for eating, as one picture is rarely enough for identification for novice mushroom hunters.
To gain a strong knowledge of mushroom identification, attend workshops or conferences, collect the same species repeatedly to gain a strong knowledge and do not let the smell of a mushroom lead in identification. Until a large knowledge base of mushroom identification knowledge is gained, it is important to follow the rule of "when in doubt, throw it out," as just one deviation in a mushroom's appearance can be the difference in whether it is edible or poisonous.