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 – see below)
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 next ten:
41. King Bolete, Porcini (Boletus edulis)
42. Queen Bolete (Boletus aereus, B. regineus)
43. Manzanita Bolete (Leccinum manzanitae)
44. Aspen Boletes (Leccinum insigne and close relatives)
45. Old Man of the Woods (Strobilomyces floccopus a.k.a. S. strobilaceus)
46. Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica)
47. Hen of the Woods, Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
48. Sulfur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus)
49. Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum group)
50. Varnished Conk, Reishi, (Ganoderma lucidum, G. tsugae, G. oregonense)
Here is the list again with photos and accompanying paragraph of additional information:
43. Manzanita Bolete (Leccinum manzanitae): Edible. This large mushroom is a dark red to brown with small dark “scabers” on a light stalk. Cap size: 2.8-7.9 inches (7-20 cm), but can get to 11.8 inches (30 cm). Found only in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada in association with Manzanita or Madrone trees.
44. Aspen Boletes (Leccinum insigne and close relatives): Edible. As with the Manzanita Bolete above, all Leccinum species are Boletes with “scabers” – small, rigid projections on the stalk. All the closely related species are very similar in appearance and are all edible. Bright orange to reddish or brownish cap with a light stalk covered in dark scabers. Cap size: 2.4-6.7 inches (6-17 cm). Common and widely distributed in North America, primarily with Aspen trees.
45. Old Man of the Woods (Strobilomyces floccopus a.k.a. S. strobilaceus): Edible (taste is bland but better in young specimens). This unique mushroom is difficult to mistake. The characteristic cap is covered on top with shaggy scales and the pores are large. Flesh is light, turning to red/orange and then dark when bruised. Cap size: 1.6-5.9 inches (4-15 cm). Found in hardwood (espicially oak) and coniferous forests in Europe and North America.
46. Beefsteak Fungus, Ox Tongue (Fistulina hepatica). Edible. This is a orange-red to dark red shelf, or bracket, fungus with pores that was used as a meat substitute in the past. The name refers to that history as well as its appearance. Interestingly, it has a taste that some say is citrus-like and others just say is sour. Fruiting Body: 2.8-11.8 inches (7-30 cm) broad and 0.8-2.4 inches (2-6 cm) thick. It is found at the base of hardwood trees and stumps, commonly oak and chestnut.
47. Hen of the Woods, Maitake (Grifola frondosa): Edible (choice!). Here is another of my favorite culinary mushrooms. This is another shelf fungus that is gray to brown and wavy that resemble a fluffed-up hen. The whole fruiting body of overlapping, fan or spoon-shapped caps can grow up to 40 inches (100 cm) across, but each cap is 0.8-2.8 inches (2-7 cm) wide. This fungus also has noticable pores. Only the young and tender caps are worth eating. Found in North America and Asia, but is most common in eastern North America and Japan, at the base of hardwoods (especially oaks).
48. Sulfur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus): Edible (but some may have allergic reactions, so eat it in small amounts at first). This almost unmistakable mushroom is a large, fleshy, velvety, shelflike fungus. This species is also called “Chicken of the Woods”, and it is said to have a chicken-like texture and mild flavour. As with most shelf mushrooms, the younger and more tender specimens are best. One specimen attained the weight of 100 lbs (over 45 kg)! Fruiting Body: 2.0-27.5 inches (5-70 cm) wide and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm ) thick . Commonly found in overlapping clusters on stumps and logs, but occasionally on living trees, of conifers and hardwoods. Widely distributed across Europe and North America.
49. Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum group): Not Edible. This large shelf fungus has a white pore surface that will turn dark or shaded when rubbed or scratched with a sharp instrument, and has become known as an artist’s drawing medium. Fruiting Body: 2.0-29.5 inches (5-75 cm) or more wide and 0.8-7.9 inches (2-20 cm) thick and is usually fan-shaped. Found on almost every hardwood in North America, it can also be found on conifers and hardwoods around the world.
50. Varnished Conk, Reishi, Ling Chih (Ganoderma lucidum, G. tsugae, G. oregonense): Not Edible. This shelf-fungus has a shiny (varnished) appearance, and it has been used as a medicinal mushroom in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years! Fruiting Body: 0.8-13.8 inches (2-35 cm) wide and 1.6-3.1 inches (4-8 cm) thick and is usually fan or kidney-shaped. Found in tropical and temperate climates around the world on a large variety of trees, but prefers deciduous trees (especially maple). It is actually rare in the wild and is commonly cultivated on logs or woodchips.Subscribe to TCPermaculture.com and receive updates whenever a new article is posted!