All mushrooms can be considered magic, if you get the jist; they’re culinary marvels, they hold an acquired taste and can vary so drastically between which of the types of mushroom are on the menu (of course, only the types of edible mushrooms) as well as how they even got to your plate in the first place.
Whether they’re raw, fried, sauteed, boiled, simmered, chopped, sliced, whole and so on. They each have their own tastes and textures brought to the table. With the most popular choices being the Button Mushroom, the Enoki Mushroom and the Portobello Mushroom, far too many people are missing out on the rainbow of fungi tastes when forgetting about doing some random mushroom identification in exotic shops.
It’s not all about taste, either. Mushrooms are a very healthy vegetable to eat because they act as a natural source for a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can boost your overall health.
So, that’s exactly why we’re here. The team here at The Hobby Kraze wanted to bring a range of common mushrooms, wild and cultivated, both the types of edible mushrooms and the types of mushrooms that shouldn’t even be touched.
This way you can experience this new culinary marvel while enjoying the guide to mushrooms even when venturing out into the woodlands to hunt wild mushrooms for foraging in the UK.
Before we get on with the 32 types of mushrooms and all-sorts, there are a few different ways the types of mushrooms will grow around the world.
The first is Saprotrophic growth meaning the mushrooms will grow from dead matter, recycling nutrients into the ecosystem. The second is Mycorrhizal growth which means some types of mushrooms will grow intertwined with the roots of trees and other plants, both thriving off each other. Finally, the third is Parasitic growth meaning the mushrooms will invade a living thing for its nutrients and eventually kill the host; this is common with diseased trees.
And now, we can get onto the fun part: the 32 types of mushrooms, shrooms, sprouts, spores, ground fruits and other fungi!
Amanita (Amanita Muscaria)
The Amanita fungi is a bit of a fun-guy to start with. They have the classic toadstool aesthetic with the red cap, white spots and a tall and white stalk. Although this bright red colour can vary to a pale yellow depending on the region of growth. The interesting factor is whether or not it classifies as one of the types of edible mushrooms; technically, these guys are poisonous, but boiling twice to reduce toxins brings you an Asian delicacy (with a dash of psychoactive qualities thrown into the pot).
Beech Mushroom (Hypsizygus Tessellatus)
Also going by the names of Clamshell Mushroom and Buna Shimeji Mushroom, the Beech Mushroom is typically cultivated around temperate climate areas such as Southern Europe, Australia and Asia. They generally grow on Beech trees, hence the name and are more long, thin and brown-capped when it comes down to mushroom identification. These are, in fact one of the types of edible mushroom and have a nutty flavour as well as a crunchy texture when stir-fried.
Black Trumpet Mushroom (Craterellus Cornucopioides)
Black in name and black in looks, these types of mushrooms have a fable to them. They are dubbed the ‘trumpet of the dead’ because they have small trumpet-shaped bodies and are said to be played by the dead below. Although, as this is a guide to mushrooms in general, here are the facts: this edible funnel mushroom grows to around 10cm tall, cultivates under broad-leaved trees as a Mycorrhizal growth and tends to pop up in North America, Europe and Japan around the Autumn time.
Button Mushroom (Agaricus Bisporus)
The button mushroom is mentioned here a few times as its maturity brings about different looks, textures and tastes. However, the button mushroom is an all-over white mushroom commonly used throughout North America and Europe in many mushroom-based pies and other dishes. With this commonality, it’s cultivated in over 70 different countries and is an excellent source of Vitamin D and B-Complex vitamins, too. P.S. The Button Mushroom is the Portobello Mushroom but immature and white!
Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus Obliquus)
This is one of the first Parasitic types of mushrooms in this list; it can be found in Northern Hemisphere birch forests, but it isn’t poisonous. In fact, it has been found to have a large amount of melanin in its mycelium (roots) which actually makes it a medicinal mushroom. With this, it is typically harvested and ground to be used within a hot tea. In terms of mushroom identification, it almost looks like a bulge in a tree has been singed as it causes White Heart Rot in the host tree.
Chanterelle Mushroom (Cantharellus Formosus)
As a native growth to the Pacific Northwest of America, the Chanterelle Mushroom also takes the name of the Pacific Golden Chanterelle. Given the second name, it’s understandable to see that these types of mushroom are golden in colour. They are also a funnel shape with a flat cap and long stem growing to around 14cm tall. They are one of the types of edible mushroom on this list and taste very fruity and floral.
Cordyceps Mushroom (Cordyceps Militaris)
Mushroom identification for these strange growths of nature is not very difficult: they almost look like cheese-puffs growing out of the ground. And, while a child may have planted a cheese-puff with great hopes and wishes, they aren’t them. In fact, these types of mushrooms are Saprotrophic, growing out of underground pupae. Another edible mushroom, these specific cheese-puff mushrooms are cooked within soups in Asian cuisine for a fruity taste with the added benefit of bio-metabolites.
Cremini Mushroom (Agaricus Bisporus)
We mentioned earlier, the Button Mushroom will have name drops in this article: this is one of them. The Cremini Mushroom is actually the exact same species of mushroom as the Button Mushroom. The only differences for the mushroom identification include the colour. While the Button Mushroom is all white in colour, the Cremini Mushroom is brown. Both cultivate in the same area, both are immature, both are used the same in cuisine around the world yet may believe they are different.
Enoki Mushroom (Flammulina Velutipes)
The Enoki Mushroom (A.K.A. the Winter Mushroom) has been a part of Asian cuisine for a while, yet online food trends are bringing the tastebuds over here to the UK and the US. Again, mushroom identification for these special fungi is quite easy; when cultivated and not wild, they grow in plentiful bunches, are long and thin, are white, have very small caps and have a nice crunch to them when sauteed. However, the wild version of Enoki Mushrooms grows in natural light with large caps of pink and orange.
Giant Puffball Mushroom (Calvatia Booniana)
By the name, you’ve probably guessed these types of mushroom are a giant puffball. And you’d be right. They cultivate in North America while maturing at 30cm in diameter. They look like large white balls which can either be smooth or have plaques on the cap. It doesn’t have a stem but, instead, has three layers: the first is firm and white like the Button Mushroom, the second is yellow and slimy and the third is white and powdery. Americans love eating these types of mushrooms cubed and deep-fried.
Green Amanita (Amanita Phalloides)
Commonly considered the Death Cap, these European green and white mushrooms have an average sized cap, a tall stem and a bulging white base. They carry a deadly poison to us humans (hence the nickname) so should be firmly left in place when hunting wild mushrooms for foraging in the UK. They’re poisonous because they feature anatoxins which are also impervious to heat, so unfortunately the grill won’t help for this mushroom. Some final notes include it growing to 15cm with a sweet honey smell.
Hedgehog Mushroom (Hydnum Repandum)
The hedgehog mushroom is another fungus with distinct mushroom identification linked to its name. When harvested, the underside of these types of mushrooms don’t have gills; instead, they have spines that are likened to the quills of a hedgehog. As a Mycorrhizal growth, it cultivates wild in Europe fruiting around the late Summer and early Autumn months. The Hedgehog Mushroom is also considered one of the types of edible mushroom and is both sweet and nutty with a crunchy texture.
Hen of the Woods Mushroom (Grifola Frondosa)
This mushroom is the carnation of mushrooms; blooming at the base of oak trees around the world, it grows with varied curling layers that look like a brown flower. They also go by the names Maitake Mushroom and Dancing Mushroom although there is no dancing to be had. They generally cultivate wild in early Autumn and can reach 100cm in diameter and height (some are recorded to have hit 150cm in Asia when specially cultivated). They are edible but do need a thorough wash and cook.
Honey Agaric (Armillaria Mellea)
Also known as Honey Fungus, this Parasitic growth causes Armillaria Root Rot on plants and trees before growing the mushrooms at the base. In terms of looks and mushroom identification, they can be likened to Liberty Cap for the shape and size. When it comes to the cap colour, it is almost like a golden honey and – strangely enough – it features a sticky residue on the top of the cap, too. While these types of mushrooms can be considered edible, they’re known for causing upset stomachs.
Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius Indigo)
Another stunning mushroom with strong colour, this bright-blue fungus has a stem of 8cm and a wide cap of 15cm in diameter. What is interesting about this mushroom is its ability ‘lactate’ or ooze milk when opened. This liquid begins as a rich blue like the mushroom itself but turns green with exposure to the air. Luckily for exotic eaters, it is considered one of the types of edible mushrooms in places like China and Mexico. Cooked in thin slices, it has a grainy texture with a peppery taste.
King Trumpet Mushroom (Pleurotus Eryngii)
Also known as the French Horn Mushroom and the King Oyster Mushroom, the King Trumpet Mushroom is one of those types of mushrooms with a thick stem, brown colour and a small inverting cap. Being cultivated in Mediterranean regions, it’s not something you’ll find in your wild mushrooms for foraging in the UK. However, it is one of the most cultivated mushrooms for eating around the world. And when you get a taste, appreciate the cooked umami flavours and cholesterol-lowering properties.
Lions Mane Mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus)
Native to regions across North America, Europe and Asia, the mushroom identification of the Lions Mane Mushroom (also called the Bearded Tooth Fungus, the Monkey Head Mushroom and the Pom Pom Mushroom) involves its mane-like appearance and lack of a cap. In terms of wild cultivation, it is a Saprotrophic growth. And, in terms of the culinary uses, it is one of the edible types of mushrooms classed as speciality with the taste of lobster and 22% protein making it a very unique taste experience to have.
Lobster Mushroom (Hypomyces Lactifluorum)
Given the name, there’s no surprise that these types of mushrooms have a sea-food taste to the tongue. This is especially true when eaten fresh. However, what is surprising is that the lobster mushroom is not actually a mushroom; instead, it is a parasite fungus that grows off existing mushrooms (mainly milk caps such as the Russula Mushroom). They can be quite easy in terms of mushroom identification as they have no discernible cap, they have a read outer-layer and can grow to very large sizes.
Milk Mushroom (Lactarius Quietus)
We’ll begin with a dispute for the Milk Mushroom: it’s edibility. While it can be safe to eat, it is considered very bitter with no hope which would make it both technically edible and inedible. As for the characteristics and cultivation for these types of mushrooms, they tend to have an inverted brown cap of 8cm in diameter which exposes the golden gills underneath. During the Autumn, it is found almost exclusively throughout Europe under the Oak Tree alongside an oily smell arising from the milk.
Morel Mushroom (Morchella Esculenta)
The Morel Mushroom (also named the Yellow Morel) is very unique when it comes to the mushroom identification of it all. The fungus’ cap almost looks like a honeycomb with a number of pits. Cultivating as a Saprotrophic growth in the Northern hemisphere (notably after a forest fire), they’re a prized possession for many French gourmet chefs who will season and sauté for meat dishes. There’s no wonder about their demand as they have natural levels of vitamins, protein, fibre, iron and calcium.
Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus Ostreatus)
Common throughout Germany for WWI, the Mycorrhizal growing Oyster Mushroom has a large white cap fanning out from the trees. With a rather unique twist, mushroom identification also involves smelling for bitter almond aromas in the air. As one of the types of edible mushrooms, it is now a delicacy throughout much of Japan dominating the flavour for soups while pairing well with oyster sauces (hence the name). Although, it is best when young and before the cap becomes too tough.
Pine Mushroom (Tricholoma Matsutake)
The Pine Mushroom (known in Asian cuisine as the Matsutake Mushroom) is one of the most expensive types of mushrooms due to specific cultivation and harvesting methods. The highest-grade can cost $1000 for a kilogram. On the same note, it is another Mycorrhizal growing mushroom with brown and white features with a medium-sized cap that grows under foliage at the foot of trees with wildlife also enjoying the tastes. It is known for its pine aroma, spicy flavour and crunchy texture.
Porcini Mushroom (Boletus Edulis)
Also known as the Brown Cap Mushroom, the Porcini Mushroom has a white stalk and very broad brown cap. The stem can range from slender to bulbous and is actually a common addition to many risottos, soups, pastas and breads as one of the types of edible mushrooms. As well as this, these specific types of mushrooms have a unique property; they are filled with vitamins and fibre with the ability to be dried, stored and reconstituted for its meaty and nutty taste in only the best Italian dishes later on.
Portobello Mushroom (Agaricus Bisporus)
This is yet another time the Button Mushroom will get a mention in this article; once the Button Mushroom has matured, the stem shrinks, the cap grows, and the mushroom becomes a deep brown colour. As for the guide to mushrooms in food, the Portobello Mushroom is a favourite for the team here at The Hobby Kraze. With its giant low-calorie body, it features a meaty texture and flavour accompanied by healthy nutrients such as vitamin D. A top tip is to roast upside down in a garlic sauce.
Liberty Cap (Psilocybe Semilanceata)
These types of mushroom are incredibly psychoactive. In fact, they are also incredibly famous around the world as being the highly illegal Magic Mushroom or ‘Shroom’ drug used to reach happiness and delirium (but can often result in kidney failure). While the team at The Hobby Kraze advise against ever eating these mushrooms, we do feel it’s important for mushroom identification abilities to cover the grounds when hunting wild mushrooms in the UK: they are long, thin and mostly white with a brown cap.
Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma Lingzhi)
Known as the Divine Mushroom throughout China, the Reishi Mushroom is both Saprotrophic and Parasitic as it will take over a host and continue to thrive from carcass nutrients. When it comes to mushroom identification, they have short stems, large fan caps and a colour range: the centre is dark brown and leathery which fades to white at the edge. They have a rather bitter taste when cooked, however it has been used for over 2,000 as a medicinal cure for repairing ‘knotted chest’.
Russula Mushroom (Russula Emetica)
These types of mushrooms are regularly eaten throughout Russia. However, the Russula Mushroom has the names “Sickener” and “Vomiting Russula” and there’s reason to it. While they can be classed as the types of edible mushrooms you can put on a plate, they have toxins that cause gastrointestinal discomfort (both ways!). To identify, they have white stems, wide red caps that grow to 10cm and have inverted cap growth, too. Despite this, they are described as a bitter addition to a goulash.
Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula Edodes)
Another Saprotrophic growing fungus, these types of mushrooms tend to grow on a range of deciduous trees throughout the warmer climates of Southeast Asia. With this, it also goes by the names of the Black Forest Mushroom and Golden Oak Mushroom. They’re edible kinds of mushroom and have been used as a part of cuisine in Asia for years such as the famous miso soup. What’s even better is that these mushrooms are 90% water, meaning they’re very low calorie while being rich in vitamins and minerals.
Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes Versicolor)
Almost like Reishi Mushrooms, the Turkey Tail Mushroom is very large, flat and has a colour-changing cap. However, these types of mushrooms are more multi-coloured with grey, green, black, brown, cream and white. Interestingly, and although inedible, a Japanese guide to mushrooms extracts Polysaccharide-K from them for herbal cancer treatment. A note for looking at wild mushrooms for foraging in the UK, there are mimics of the Turkey Tail Mushroom identification in terms of colour and shape!
Violet Web Cap (Cortinarius Violaceus)
This stunning fungus really does glow violet. It grows wild to around 12cm throughout North America, Europe and Asia but is still a rare find when hunting wild mushrooms for foraging in the UK and abroad. As a Mycorrhizal growth mushroom, it loves to cultivate alongside deciduous woodland trees such as the Birch, Beech or Oak. However, they are not considered edible due to the toxic web cap (plus, they have a bitter taste anyway so there’s really no loss there).
Wine Cap Mushroom (Stropharia Rugosoannulata)
Also known as the Garden Giant, these types of burgundy capped mushroom were initially found in Europe before being introduced to New Zealand for wide-scale cultivation. They can grow to a very large 20cm in height and are considered within the types of edible mushrooms as they are very tasty when grilled. The taste is similar to garden corn making a good companion to Autumn and Winter salad dishes. In terms of mushroom identification, aside from the burgundy cap, they have white stems!
Wood Blewit Mushroom (Clitocybe Nuda)
As this is a guide to mushrooms, we had to touch on a couple of common foods here in the UK, France and the Netherlands. It grows in many of our forests, features a tan and brown body with short stems and bulging bases. They were discovered by a French mycologist in 1970 who strangely mistook them for a Violet Web Cap. Since then, they have been a popular delicacy as one of the types of edible mushrooms while sauteed in butter with omelette (although they are known to cause allergic reactions).
And that draws a close to every fungus, toadstool, cap and ground fungi you could see in the UK and across the waters. However, before we leave you to forage away in the British woodland, the team here at The Hobby Kraze want to make sure you’re wandering, picking and foraging safely.
With that, it’s important to know that picking wild mushrooms that haven’t been specially cultivated is an art that requires a keen eye and a bit of know-how. This is because the poisonous mushrooms we mentioned earlier, can simply be poisonous to the touch!
While there isn’t a set guideline for how to identify every single mushroom, where they are and exactly how to be a safe forager (because there are mimic fungi versions of everything, too!), we can hand over a few tips.
Here are some things to avoid:
- Mushrooms that have red on any part
- Mushrooms with white gills (the ridged part under the cap)
- Mushrooms with a ring on the stem
- Mushrooms with a skirt on the stem
- Mushrooms with a bulging base
Aside from that, all we can say is to pluck with protective gloves, make sure to wear googles in case of spores or milk splashes and don’t eat anything (at least not until they have been inspected!).
If you liked this article and think your friends and family might too before heading out on a group adventure into the British wilderness, don’t forget to share on social media. As well as this, maybe check out all of our other fun and interesting fact files and ultimate guides about anything you can think of, right here at The Hobby Kraze.