An Essential Skill: Wild Mushroom Identification

Harvest exquisite edible wild mushrooms – without a truffle-hunting sow.

| January/February 2012

  • Oyster Mushrooms
    Edible oyster mushrooms can be grown on trees, in bags or on logs. A chestnut tree houses this collection.
    iStockphoto.com/Roger Whiteway
  • Morel Mushroom
    A beautiful example of the edible morel mushroom nestles amid a patch of bluebells.
    Ron Kruger
  • Shiitake Mushroom Logs
    Shiitake mushrooms are ready to harvest from the ideal growing environment on a collection of red oak logs.
    iStockphoto.com/Colin Chase
  • Amanita Mushroom
    While the red Amanita muscaria mushroom looks lovely, it is deadly poisonous.
    iStockphoto.com/4FR
  • Mushroom Burger
    A delicious vegetarian burger.
    Lori Dunn
  • Chanterelle Mushrooms
    Freshly harvested chanterelle mushrooms.
    iStockphoto.com/Liga Kandele

  • Oyster Mushrooms
  • Morel Mushroom
  • Shiitake Mushroom Logs
  • Amanita Mushroom
  • Mushroom Burger
  • Chanterelle Mushrooms

There is not one single reason to absolutely love wild mushrooms – there are at least four. First, it’s simply a matter of taste – good taste. The flavor of wild mushrooms is always incredible and often unforgettable.

Second, it’s a question of beauty, of distinctive, beguiling natural beauty. Folks who crave the beauty in nature will no doubt appreciate the glow of delicate tiers of golden oyster mushroom colonies nestled in a forest. Third, some wild mushrooms have impressive purported health benefits.

And finally, it’s great fun to head out into the woods and pursue wild mushrooms, or cultivate them and watch them grow in a controlled setting.

All of these reasons can help sprout your passion for gourmet mushrooms, some of which cost up to $12 or more per pound, and wild mushroom identification.



With a little space, you can safely cultivate these culinary gems at your own place – indoors or out. With the help of a mycological expert, you could potentially find free delicious mushrooms already thriving on your rural property; and you don’t even need to train a truffle-scouting sow.

Mushroom madness

Mass-marketed supermarket mushrooms, such as the common buttons, pale in comparison in both taste and color to edible wild mushrooms. Many of the latter also have whimsical monikers such as lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceum), also called shaggy mane, pom pom or beard tooth. Then there’s hen-of-the-woods (Grifola frondosa), also commonly known as maitake.






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