As I discussed in my recent article, Fighting Fungophobia (or Mycophobia) …the fear of mushrooms, here is a list of 70 Distinctive Mushrooms.

Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part One: 1-10)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Two: 11-20)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Three: 21-30)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Four: 31-40 )
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Five: 41-50)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Six: 51-60)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Seven: 61-70)

This list of mushrooms comes from David Arora, mycologist extraordinaire and author of Mushrooms Demystified and All That the Rain Promises and More. I’ve added photos and a brief paragraph about reported edibility, characteristics, distribution, and habitat. Remember, this is not meant to be an identification guide but rather an introduction to some pretty amazing and representative mushrooms. The mushrooms on this list are all found in the United States (my home), but the majority are also found outside of North America.

A quick note on edibility: I am listing whether the mushroom is considered Edible or Poisonous or Deadly Poisonous. Understand that all mushrooms should be cooked before being eaten. Even edible mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal upset (nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, and/or diarrhea) if the mushrooms are not cooked. Yes, some people can handle raw mushrooms in small amounts (mainly just the common, grocery store “button mushrooms”), but most will succumb to symptoms if they eat enough raw mushrooms, especially wild mushrooms. Also, note that some edible mushrooms may cause gastrointestinal symptoms for some individuals and none for other individuals. One species may cause some symptoms for one person but not for another. It is variable. If it is your first time consuming a new type of mushrooms, go slow. Eat a little bit one day, and if you do well, then consume a bit more the next day. If you still have no problems, then you can likely eat that type of mushroom with no issues. Finally, note that most anyone has a good chance of getting gastrointestinal symptoms if they eat an excessively large amount of mushrooms of any type. Just like if a person eats a whole pot of bean-laden chili… watch out! Keep it in moderation, but have fun!

Seventy mushroom listings and photographs will take a lot of space, so I am going to break the list up into ten species segments. I recommend reading David Arora’s books as well as some local field guides. Then go outside and get to know the fungus among us… er, you, I mean.

Here are the first ten:

  1. Delicious/Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus)
  2. Bleeding Milk Cap (Lactarius rubrilacteus)
  3. Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo)
  4. Candy Caps (Lactarius fragilis, L. camphoratus)
  5. Short-Stemmed Russula (Russula brevipes)
  6. Emetic Russula (Russula emetica group)
  7. Rosy Russula (Russula rosacea)
  8. Witch’s Hat (Hygrocybe conica)
  9. Ivory Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus eburneus)
  10. Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Here is the list again with photos and accompanying paragraph of additional information:

 

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Delicious/Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus)

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Delicious/Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus)

1. Delicious/Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus): Edible, highly prized in Europe, but much less so in North America where it tends to be grainy and a little bitter (could be varietal or growing condition differences). Cap size: 2-6.3 inches (5-16 cm). The “milk” or latex in this milk cap is an orange color. Bruises green. Common and native to Europe and North America. Found under conifers.

 

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Bleeding Milk Cap (Lactarius rubrilacteus)

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Bleeding Milk Cap (Lactarius rubrilacteus)

2. Bleeding Milk Cap (Lactarius rubrilacteus): Edible, reportedly better tasting than L. deliciosus. Cap size: 1.5-5.5 inches (4-14 cm). “Bleeds” a red latex. Bruises green. Common in western North America. L. sanguifluusis is in Europe and may actually be the same species (research . A similar species, L. subpurpureus, is found in eastern North America and has darker red-purple latex. Found with conifers (common with Douglas Fir in western North America; pine in Europe; hemlock in eastern North America).

 

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Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo)

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Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo)

3. Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo): Edible, some state it is choice, but others are not too fond of it. However, it is one of the most distinctive mushrooms. Cap size: 1.5-6 inches (4-15 cm). Latex is a bright, dark blue. Bruises blue to green. Common in eastern and southern North America and in Central America. Found under conifers and deciduous trees (most commonly pine and oak).

 

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Candy Caps (Lactarius camphoratus)

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Candy Caps (Lactarius fragilis)

4. Candy Caps (Lactarius fragilis, L. camphoratus): Edible (choice). Cap size: 0.8-2.75 inches (2-7 cm). There are a number of “Candy Cap” mushrooms found in Asia, Europe, and North America. There are an overwhelming number of Little Brown Mushrooms (LBM’s) which are closely related and look almost identical, some of which are poisonous, so accurate identification is important. Fortunately, the edible Candy Caps have a brittle stipe/stem (instead of a flexible one) and a characteristic odor, depending on the species. L. fragilis (eastern North America) smells like maple syrup; it tastes like a “mushroom” when cooked fresh, but if allowed to dry, it becomes sweet and is commonly used with syrups and sweets. L. camphoratus (Northern Hemisphere) is also known as the “Curry Milkcap” and has a scent of sweet curry.  Common under oak, but does occur under other hardwoods and conifers.

 

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Short-Stemmed Russula (Russula brevipes)

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The bland Short-Stemmed Russula (Russula brevipes) infected with the fungal parasite, Hypomyces lactifluorum, creating the delicious Lobster Mushroom.

5. Short-Stemmed Russula (Russula brevipes): Edible, but rather poor flavor… unless it is parasitized by the fungus Hypomyces lactifluorum (this fungus can parasitize other Russula and Lactarius species as well). Then it becomes the tasty Lobster Mushroom, which I have used to make a mushroom risotto a number of years ago. Only about half of the mushrooms made it in the dish, because I kept sampling them before the rice was ready! The parasitizing fungus forms a crusty layer on the host mushroom that is bright orange to orange-red. Cap size: 2.75-11.8 inches (7-30 cm). Common in temperate climate forests.

 

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Emetic Russula (Russula emetica)

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Emetic Russula (Russula emetica)

6. Emetic Russula (Russula emetica group): Poisonous, a.k.a. “The Sickener” induces vomiting as the Latin name suggests. There are a number of closely related red-capped Russula species which can all cause vomiting. It is reported that the toxins can be destroyed with prolonged heat, but the flavor is still not great. Probably not worth the trouble and risk. Cap size: 1.2-4 inches (3-10 cm). Found in North Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.

 

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Rosy Russula (Russula rosacea)

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Rosy Russula (Russula rosacea)

7. Rosy Russula (Russula rosacea): Poisonous (bad tasting as well), causing vomiting, stomach cramping, and diarrhea. R. rosacea (found in North America) may be the same species as R. sanguinaria (found in Europe). Cap size: 1.2-4.7 inches (3-12 cm). Found in northern temperate forests with conifers.

 

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Witch’s Hat (Hygrocybe conica)

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Witch’s Hat (Hygrocybe conica)

8. Witch’s Hat (Hygrocybe conica): Doubtful edibility (reported to be mistakenly blamed for death in years past, but tasteless and watery). Likely composed of many closely related species. Cap size: 0.4-2 inches (1-5 cm), may get to 4.7 inches (12 cm). Pointed and bright when young, flattening and blackening with age. Common around the world in grasslands, forests, disturbed soils, and other damp places.

 

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Ivory Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus eburneus)

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Ivory Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus eburneus)

9. Ivory Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus eburneus): Edible (poor due to its sliminess). This is a classic example of the “Waxy Cap” mushrooms, although “Slimy Cap” is probably a better name! The mucous can be so thick that the mushroom cannot even be picked; if the slime dries out, it can dry out and debris will be glued to the cap. There are other similar species of Waxy Caps. Cap size: 0.8-2.75 inches (2-7 cm), but can get to 3.9 inches (10 cm). These are common and found with conifers and occasionally with hardwoods.

 

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Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

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Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

10. Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus): Edible (choice – one of the most popular mushrooms in the world). Cap size: 1.5-6 inches (4-15 cm). Found in temperate and subtropical forests around the world. It grows on, and decomposes, wood (trunks, logs, stumps, etc.) in the wild, but can grow on many other organic substances. It prefers hardwoods, but can occasionally be found on conifers.

 

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 Photo References:

  • http://www.mykoweb.com/photos/large/Lactarius_deliciosus(mgw-06).jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Lactarius_deliciosus(fs-02).jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Lactarius/Lactarius%20rubrilacteus/Lactarius%20rubrilacteus.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Lactarius_rubrilacteus(mgw-01).jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Lactarius_indigo_54015.jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Lactarius/Lactarius%20indigo/Lactarius%20indigo%202.jpg
  • http://biology.duke.edu/fungi/mycolab/DFMO/duke%20forest%20fungi/douglas2011.JPG
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Lactarius/Lactarius%20camphoratus/Lactarius%20camphoratus%202340.jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Russula/Russula%20brevipes/Russula%20brevipes%201.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Russula_brevipes(mgw-05).jpg
  • http://www.pilzepilze.de/extern/felix_hampe/2011/Russula%20emetica%20var.%20emetica%2021.08.2011%20(6)%20Kopie.jpg
  • http://fr.academic.ru/pictures/frwiki/82/Russula_emetica1.JPG
  • http://www.indianamushrooms.com/images/russula_rosacea_2.jpg
  • http://morwellnp.pangaean.net/images/full_size/Russula_rosacea_a.jpg
  • http://farm1.staticflickr.com/111/300619694_7cdc09e95f_o.jpg
  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/2007-06-16_Hygrocybe_conica.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Hygrophorus_eburneus-pastorino.JPG
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Hygrophorus_eburneus(mgw-03).jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Pleurotus_ostreatus(fs-03).jpg
  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Pleurotus_ostreatus_-_Pleurote_en_huître.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Hypomyces_lactifluorum_169126.jpg