Mushroom Identification Tips
Mushrooms, like all living organisms, get typed according to specific physically identifying features.
In addition to using physical features of mushrooms for identification purposes, scientific identification of mushrooms commonly moves in a technological direction by adopting tools such as spore examination or DNA analysis.
Temporarily placing technical analysis on the back burner, a mushroom's physical features, such as size, spore color and cap structure, often provide sufficient information for a decent, first glance mushroom identification task.
Types of Mushrooms
The structure of the underside of a mushroom with a cap represents one of the common ways to begin the mushroom identification process.
During the course of an average mushroom hike, the mushroom hunter typically comes across mushroom species whose caps have either gills, pores or teeth on their undersides.
By far, most mushrooms display gills on the underside of the cap. The thousands of existing species, makes any particular species difficult to identify.
The top picture highlights the purple gills on a Purple Cort (Cortinarius violaceus).
Toothed mushrooms get their name from the small spine or tooth like particles under the cap. They are not a scientific group of mushrooms, but a group of terrestrial and shelf mushrooms that share the tooth characteristic.
The second picture, in the box, shows a ground growing toothed mushroom, probably Hydnum repandum, commonly known as the hedgehog mushroom.
Bolete mushrooms, the common name given to mushrooms in the order Boletales, generally share the physical characteristic of having pores, rather than gills under the cap. Bolete species, including the King Bolete, are probably the best known of the pore mushrooms.
Picture number three shows a close up of the orange pores on a peppery bolete mushroom. Pore color and size provide additional physical clues for identifying any bolete mushroom species.
One brief review of mushroom cap types as it relates to mushroom identification lacks important identification skills necessary for determining the edibility of any particular mushroom specimen.
Exceptions to general rules abound. The existence of gilled boletes, for example, reminds us that not all bolete mushrooms have pores.
Additionally, entire groups of mushrooms, such as the morel mushroom and coral mushrooms, lack a traditional mushroom cap. Their distinctive appearances make them easy initial field identification specimens for advanced mushroom hunters.
© 2007-2012 Patricia A. Michaels. All Rights Reserved.