Types of Mushrooms
Mushrooms, the fruits of the fungi world, attract a diverse group of enthusiasts.
Cook books without mushroom recipes, for example, sounds odd to most culinary ears. Colorful mushrooms perk up many a hiker along the path.
|Types of Mushrooms
Porcini (Boletus edulis)
Agaricales: Gilled Mushrooms
Boletales: Pored Mushrooms
Pezizales: Morels & False Morels
Hedgehog Mushroom (toothed)
Shelf Mushrooms (Polypores)
Practical science, for example, continues to study their beneficial effects for the human world, such as the use of oyster mushrooms as bioremediation tools.
The mushrooms presented in this guide address many of these themes.
Like most areas in biology, mushroom taxonomy continues to change with improved information and research. Fungi 101 discussions often begin by noting the fungi kingdom's four phyla: Chytridiomycota; Zygomycota' Basidiomycota; Ascomycota.
Species in the Phyla Basidiomycota, Class: Agaricomycetes receive a considerable amount of attention from mushroom hobbyist because it contains mushrooms, toadstools and other commonly encountered fungi.
Four orders of native North American Agaricomycetes get highlighted here.
- Agaricales: Most, but not all of the gilled mushrooms fit this category.
- Boletales: Most of the pored mushrooms, or boletes, fit this category. Note also one exception to the rule, the Gilled Bolete (Phylloporus rhodoxanum), at the top of the page. A handful of Phylloporusgenus species grow in the United States, some bruise blue, others do not. The picture additionally highlights the blue bruise on the bright yellow gills.
- Gomphales: Sometimes considered a separate order, it consists of club mushrooms and gomphus mushrooms.
- Polyporales: A handful of popyporales receive attention in this mushroom guide. They are generally categorized as tough, tree growing polypores, also called shelf mushrooms.
Ascomycota, the phylum with the largest number of documented species, receives culinary attention due to the inclusion of the order Pezizales.
Referred to as operculate cup-fungi, mushroom enthusiasts think morels and truffles. Violet Star Cups (Violet Crown cups), sole representatives of the Sarcosphaera genus, often make the Pezizales less considered list.
Picture two shows an unusual specimen because most of the fruiting bodies do not end up looking "star-like" or "crown-like". Instead, the edges tend to break off as the fungi emerges from the ground. Its range extends to the coniferous forests of the Northwest and Rocky Mountains. Smaller populations are reported in Michigan and Northeast United States. Some experts report it as edible, however, picker beware. The Violet Star Cup is also a heavy metal magnet, known to sop up arsenic in the soil.
While science based taxonomic organizations apply to many mushroom discussions, another set of robust mushroom discussions often deals with edibility.
Perhaps the boletes rank as the best known of the edibles. Additional species such as morels and chanterelles, also make the prized edible list.
Any discussion of mushroom edibility also needs to note that both edible mushroom species and toxic, or inedible mushroom species, can be found in most orders.
With very few exceptions, the polypores (shelf mushrooms found in woodlands across the United States) generally fall into the inedible category. The Chicken of the Woods is the exception.
Mushroom identification entails more than the information conveyed by a picture and short description of any particular species.
A worst case scenario might entail someone picking an otherwise edible mushroom from an area saturated with pesticides or industrial poisons such as mercury.
Those planning to pick mushrooms, need to proceed with caution. The Mushroom Identification Tips article provides some beginner's information.
Regulations for both personal and commercial mushroom harvesting vary from place to place. Local arboretums, botanical gardens and government agencies often offer mushroom identification classes with greater detail on the what, where and when of mushroom picking in your area.
The video presentation highlights a handful of North American fall mushrooms.
© 2006-2012 Patricia A. Michaels