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Foraging for Mushrooms – an Introduction

Foraging For Mushrooms

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Mushrooms are delicious when added to a meal; they take the dish to the next level. But have you thought about how fun it is to find mushrooms in the wild? Foraging for your own mushrooms comes with difficulties but also a delicious reward at the end. Patience and persistence are key virtues to possess when looking for your own mushrooms out in the wild.

Characteristics Of A Mushroom Hunter

Before you set out to hunt for mushrooms, it is important you have a knowledge of the mushrooms you want, what they look like, and the environment they grow in. Mushrooms of different species grow in different habitats. For example, morels grow on or around dead trees and are typically found in colder regions. When you know you’re at the right place at the right time it makes it easier to exercise patience and be persistent, knowing that your expertise will lead to a find.

Another vital reason to be sure of what you’re looking for in your mushroom hunting journey is that there are lots of poisonous species of mushroom in the wild. You have to be able to tell the difference between an edible mushroom and a poisonous mushroom. So before foraging for mushrooms make sure you have an adequate knowledge of the mushrooms you want. It’s helpful to have a good guide to aid you.


It isn’t necessary to have specialist items to aid you in collecting mushrooms (although try to avoid using plastic bags to store them in – they need to keep dry). However, a knife and a bag can be handy.

Poisonous Mushrooms

There are thousands of species of mushrooms, and a good number of these species are poisonous. This might sound discouraging, but it shouldn’t stop you from finding the edible mushrooms you are interested in.

In general, poisonous mushrooms have an unpleasant and bitter taste. Unfortunately, not all poisonous mushrooms taste bad. That’s why it is very important to be sure about the mushroom before tasting or eating it. Should you eat a mushroom you think is poisonous, spit it out immediately, rinse your mouth with water and a mouth wash if available and then get medical assistance.

Some of the most common poisonous mushrooms found in the wild are:

Destroying Angels: These are the most poisonous species of mushroom. They cause lethal damage to the kidneys and liver within a few hours of digestion. Other symptoms include diarrhea and convulsions and death can sometimes result.

Destroying angel mushrooms
Destroying angel mushrooms


Death Caps: Death caps are the most common species of poisonous mushroom you can find. They grow just about anywhere. When eaten, they cause irreparable damage to the liver.

Death cap mushroom
Death cap mushroom, amanita phalloides

Edible Mushrooms

In spite of the many species of poisonous mushrooms, there are also many species of edible mushrooms we can find in the wild. The most sought-after species of edible mushrooms are White Buttons, Creminis, Morels, Truffles, and Portabellas. The White Buttons, Creminis, and Portabellas are the same species of mushroom, just at different stages in the maturation process. So, if you find White Buttons when you were looking for Portabellas, just let them age a bit. Both Morels and Truffles tend to be more difficult to find and are valuable.

White button mushrooms
White button mushrooms

Other mushrooms which are quite distinctive are Wood Ears, Stinkhorns, Shaggy Mane, Wood mushrooms, Turkey tail, Black Trumpet, CauliflowerPorcini, Tremella, Artist’s Conk, Chicken of the Woods, Giant Puffball, Mesima, Black staining polpore, Honey fungus, and Hedgehog mushrooms.


Foraging for mushrooms is a challenge full of rewards if you’re patient and persistent enough. Mushrooms are fun to track down and they’re good to eat. Before heading out for hunting for mushrooms, be sure to do thorough research beforehand or better still bring along with you a good field guide and you’re good to go. Have fun!

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