WARNING: Even though some of the content can says it’s edible, but you must always consult a foraging expert prior to trying anything. I’ve seen people just try some mushroom and they swell up, and eventually died from multiple organ failure. Try at your own risk!!
Before go out to forage anything, please check with the local law to see if it’s legal to collect.
I must admit, I haven’t really forage anything in the US. But I am very fascinated by it. I’ve gone hiking in many place, many times, I recognize many edible plants and mushroom. I think it’s a very cool thing to learn as I love hiking, and in case if I’ve ever gotten lost in the forest, I’ll be able to survive.
So I thought I should make a category for it, compiling what I’ve learnt.
Before beginning, we do not want to touch the unknown mushroom, as some of them can cause severe allergic reaction or severe skin irritation. Poisonous mushroom will have the following traits. Traits to avoid:
1. Warts or scales on the cap. Note the off colored “patches” on the top of the picture to the left. These are the remnants of the universal veil that surrounds the mushroom when it is young. Sometimes these patches look more like rows of raised dots, as seen on the pictures further down.
2. A parasol or umbrella shaped cap. Each of these pictures is a good example of how an amanita cap is shaped, convex like a wide, upside down letter U. Or, for my fellow math enthusiasts, like an inverted parabola!
3. The presence of a bulbous cup or sac around the base. This rounded cup is called the “volva” and is another remnant of the universal veil. It is often under the ground so you may have to gently dig up the mushroom to see it. The Amanita muscaria (commonly known as a “toadstool”) to the left is a great example of this bulbous base.
4. A white spore print. When an amanita cap is placed face down on a dark colored sheet of paper, it will often leave a spore print that is white.
5. The presence of a ring around the stem. This ring, called the “annulus”, is where the partial veil was attached to the stem before it tore apart as the mushroom grew. Check out the white mushroom to the left, you can see this ring quite clearly.
6. Gills that are thin and white. The underside of this example shows the white gills of an amanita. Just another thing to look for when trying to identify poisonous mushrooms.
Amanitas usually start appearing during the second half of the season, in summer and fall. Look for them in woodlands on the ground. In many places they are quite common.
7. Poisonous mushroom tends to like growing in bright sun, very colorful vibrant color.
8. After you identified a mushroom as edible, you need to see if it grow from a poisonous source. If you cut the mushroom in half, if it’s supposed to be white and solid, you see solid and green/blue, red/brown. When in doubt, just say “NO!”.
9. Even if you feel certain of your identification, if this is first time you’ll be trying a certain species, only try a very small amount and only eat that one species. This will reduce any effects of a misidentification. This will also help if identification was right but it disagrees with you.
10. When trying new species also keep a sample of the same collection in fridge for at least a couple of days after first eating it. This can be used to get a professional identification if you do become unwell.
11. If you believe you or someone you know may be suffering from mushroom poisoning seek medical help.
Knowing how to identify poisonous mushrooms will go a long way towards the prevention of poisoning yourself. Although there are some deadly species (and many more that will just make you sick), with the right knowledge and common sense mushroom hunting isn’t as dangerous as some would believe. Remember to never eat anything that you haven’t positively identified at least three times.
Inedible plants rule:
Things that have 3 leaves, hairy leaves, and bitter taste.
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