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 final ten:

61. Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea group, C. booniana)
62. Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)
63. Dead Man’s Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)
64. Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)
65. Dog Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus, M. elegans)
66. Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)
67. Black Morel (Morchella elata)
68. False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)
69. Fluted Black Elfin Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)
70. Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

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

Giant Puffballs (Calvatia gigantea)

Giant Puffballs (Calvatia gigantea)

Giant Puffballs Calvatia booniana)

Giant Puffballs Calvatia booniana)

61. Giant Puffballs (Calvatia gigantea group, C. booniana): Edible. These mushrooms are softball to basketball-sized and are edible when young and white throughout, before the skin breaks into brownish scales and the mushroom disintegrates. Puffballs can have a laxative effect on some people, but not most. Fruiting Body: 3.9-28 inches (10-70 cm) in diameter, but can get to 59 inches (150 cm)! It is very common and found in Europe and North America in pastures, fields, and forests.
Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)

Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)

Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)

Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)

62. Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta): Edible.  One of the more distinctive mushrooms with an egg shape and pyramidal or polygonal “warts”. Said to be one of the best tasting puffballs. Fruiting Body: 2.8-7.1 inches (7-18 cm) tall and wide. This is an uncommon species found in western North America in coniferous forests at higher elevations (2,500+ feet/750+ meters), but also found in Brazil (researchers are still trying to determine the cause of this).
Dead Man's Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)

Dead Man’s Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)

Dead Man's Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)

Dead Man’s Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)

63. Dead Man’s Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius): Not Edible. When young, this unique mushroom looks like a small, dark puffball. One a good day, the mature specimen looks like a dusty stump or root, but on a bad day it could look like a pile of excrement. It is used as an aromatic seasoning in Europe when unripe (known as “Bohemian Truffle”), and it is a medicinal in China. Fruiting Body: 2.0-11.8 inches (5-30 cm) tall1.6-7.9 inches (4-20 cm) broad. Widely distributed through North America, Europe, and Asia. Grows solitary, widely scattered, or in small groups on the ground along roadsides, abandoned lots, hardpacked, poor, and sandy soils. It forms symbiotic relationships with plants, but it is not particularly picky about its partner.

 

Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

An “egg” of the Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

64. Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus): Edible. This mushroom gets its name from the smell (like rotting meat) and the shape (horn, pencil, or phallic are all terms used). The fruiting body is tall with a dark cone-shaped head covered in strong-smelling slime (gleba). This mushroom can grow as fast as 5.9 inches (15 cm) per hour! The immature fruiting body (called an “egg”) has an inner, white layer called the receptaculum that is edible raw or cooked, without the smell! Fruiting Body – Egg: 1.2-2.4 inches (3-6 cm) tall. Fruiting Body – Stalk: 3.9-11.8 inches (10-30 cm) tall with a cap 0.6-1.6 inches (1.5-4 cm) broad. Common and widely distributed in Europe and North America, but also found in Asia, Central America, Africa, and Australia. Associated with rotting wood in deciduous and coniferous forests and grassy areas.

 

Dog Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus)

Dog Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus)

Elegant Stinkhorn (Mutinus elegans)

Elegant Stinkhorn (Mutinus elegans)

65. Dog Stinkhorn, Elegant Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus, M. elegans): EdibleThese closely related Stinkhorns are also edible in the “egg” stage and still have a rotten odor when mature. They are smaller than the Common Stinkhorn above. They have no cap, but still have a slimy gleba. Fruiting Body – Egg: 0.4-1.2 inches (1-3 cm) tall. Fruiting Body –  Stalk: 0.4-5.9 inches (1-15 cm) tall. These species are commonly found in eastern North Amercia, Britain, Europe, and Asia.
Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)

Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)

Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)

Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)

66. Common Morel (Morchella esculenta). Edible (choice!) Another one of my favorite mushrooms (yum!), and it is almost unmistakable. The conical cap is pitted or honeycombed and tan to yellow to buff in color. The interior is hollow. All Morels should be cooked before eating. Cap: 1.2-4.3 inches (3-11 cm) high and 0.8-2.4 inches (2-6 cm) broad. Found alone, grouped, our in large clusters in a wide variety of locations, but most common under hardwoods and in areas recently burned. It is found in North America (common in eastern North America), but also in Brazil, the UK, Europe, and many other locations around the world.

 

Black Morels (Morchella elata)

Black Morels (Morchella elata)

Black Morels (Morchella angusticeps)

Black Morels (Morchella angusticeps)

67. Black Morels (Morchella elata, M. angusticeps, etc.): Edible (choice!). There are actually a number of species considered “Black Morels”, and it has only been in the last few years that DNA testing has shown these to be distinct species… this means they all look really similar. They also all taste really good! All Morels should be cooked before eating – some people can have “allergies” them, but we don’t know exactly what causes this. As with all new mushrooms, small samples are the best way to start. Cap: 0.8-7.1 inches (2-18 cm) high and 0.8-3.9 inches (2-10 cm) broad. Widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere within, or on the edges, or forests and in disturbed or burned areas.

 

False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

68. False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta): Edible to Poisonous to Deadly Poisonous. This is the “feared” mimick of the edible Morels. The key identifying factor is the folded, or brain-like, appearance instead of the honeycombed or pitted cap in true Morels. Some people can eat these mushrooms with no problems. Some eat these mushrooms and develop diarrhea (sometimes bloody), vomiting, vertigo, headaches, and tremor – almost everyone recovers. However, some eat this mushroom and go on to develop organ failure, seizures, coma, and death. It appears that there is both a variation in response to the toxins and a variation to the amount of toxins produced in certain areas of the world. Europe has more deaths, and North America has almost none. Despite this, many people still eat this mushroom and consider it a delicacy. I recommend avoiding it! Cap: 1.2-4.7 inches (3-12 cm) tall and broad. Commonly found in temperate climate coniferous and deciduous forests, and is more common on disturbed ground.

 

Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)

Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)

Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)

Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)

 69. Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa): Edible (with caution). The dark, convoluted cap with fluted stem makes this mushroom pretty easy to identify. Many people consider it very good, others find it bland. It is almost always eaten without the tough stalk. It has recently been reported to contain toxins, but the only reports of illness (gastrointestinal upset) is when it is eaten raw. Cap: 0.8-2.0 inches (2-5 cm) wide, but can get to 3.9 inches (10 cm). Found under pines, oaks, Douglas fir, and grassland nearby these trees in North America, Europe, China, and Japan.
Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

70. Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia): Edible. This fungus’ name is very appropriate… it really looks like a discarded orange peel! It starts off rather round, but becomes cup/saucer-shaped to flat and wavy with age. As with so many other mushrooms, some collectors find that it tastes good, while others find it bland. David Aurora states that because it is so frail, it hardly seems worth the trouble of collecting. Fruiting Body: 0.4-3.9 inches (1-10 cm) across. Found on bare or disturbed soils in Europe and North America.

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 Photo References:

  • http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1157/1358565822_1890b9ee44_o.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Calvatia_booniana.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/45/Calvatia_sculpta_49007_cropped.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Calvatia_sculpta_fs-04.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Pisolithus_arhizus_bk-01.jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Gasteromycetes/Pisolithus%20tinctorius/Pisolithus%20tinctorius%20eucalyptus.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Phallus_impudicus.jpg
  • http://rachisaurus.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/phallus-impudicus-stinkhorn1.jpg
  • http://letsdeliquesce.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/img_3698.jpg
  • http://www.naturamediterraneo.eu/Public/data4/lipo/Mutinus%20elegans%202.jpg_20061124193336_Mutinus%20elegans%202.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/Morchella_esculenta_84915.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Morchella_esculenta_-_DE_-_TH_-_2013-05-02_-_02.JPG
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Morchella_elata_83538.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/90/Morchella_angusticeps_38336.jpg
  • http://www.fungalpunknature.co.uk/Fungi/G%20Esculenta%206.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Gyromitra_esculenta(fs-01).jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Helvella_lacunosa_1977.jpg
  • http://www.fungalpunknature.co.uk/Fungi/Helvellalacunosa.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/35/Aleuria_aurantia_1.jpg
  • http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2012/130/4/2/aleuria_aurantia_by_jakhajay-d4za9sn.jpg