How to identify mushroom which is less harmful

Mushrooms are available in multiple varieties. Some of these are edible, but a few can be poisonous too. The good news is that only 1% of all the mushrooms are found to be poisonous. As a mushroom hunter, you must follow an easy trick, which is, ‘don’t eat mushrooms that you could not identify at least three times earlier.’ 

Invariably harmless mushrooms

Here is the list of edible and harmless mushrooms:

  1. Agaricus spp
  2. Pleurotus spp
  3. Ganoderma spp
  4. Cantharellus spp
  5. Auricularia spp
  6. Russula spp
  7. Termitomyces spp

Since these are edible, these mushroom species can be safely categorized as less harmful to harmless species. 

Easy tips for recognizing less harmful mushrooms

The most accurate test is a lab test where the mushrooms are examined for various nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, protein, and vitamins and minerals. The highest percentage of proteins and vitamins in mushrooms makes them suitable for use as part of a diet. But, what if you want to pick mushrooms directly from the field? Here are some physical recognition tips.

  1. Cutting mushroom does not make its stain green or purple.
  2. On tasting an edible mushroom, it does not cause a burning sensation on the tongue
  3. The safe mushrooms are beautiful in appearance and free from any blisters, spore whites, etc.
  4. They smell pleasant and have a sweet taste
  5. You may see some worms in safer mushrooms
  6. The cap of the mushroom may lack scales

Other important ways to identify safer mushrooms 

When you are out to hunt for mushrooms, you do not have lab conditions to rest any doubt of yours. So, there are specific points to consider for easy identification.

  • Look at the place where they are growing

Mushrooms naturally developing in outdoor conditions have a few identifying features. One of

One of those is the site of growth. For example, Hen-of-the-woods is a polypore easy to recognize with small pores on the underside. Also, their site of growth is mostly the base of oak plants. Thirdly, China, Japan, and North America are the places where these mushrooms grow every year and interestingly, on the same spot. So, you know where and when to look for a mushroom.

  • Physical characteristics

Many less harmful mushrooms are identified based on physical characteristics. Brown or black gills are some of the identifying points of Agaricus species. Stout stems and cutting the fungi longitudinally should not show blue or purple stain; this is the second step of identifying a little safer mushrooms.

  • Time of appearance

Every safe as well as unsafe mushroom, appears during a typical time of the year. So, you can pay attention to the time when you have seen the bulbs. Many hunters choose the usual time of appearance of any safe mushroom for collecting purposes. However, it is not a wholesome way of identification. It should be coupled with other points of identification.

  • Mushroom’s smell

As mentioned above, the safer mushrooms can be identified by their smell. If the mushroom is smelling pleasant or sweet, it indicated a higher chance of being harmless.

  • Shape, texture, and color of the cap

If you are an experienced collector, you can identify the safe mushroom from the caps’ shape, texture, and color. It can be smooth, spore less, and shining. 

Some tips to consider while selecting harmless fungi

Many people tend to become over-confident with time and may commit a fatal error while identifying the poisonous mushrooms from safer ones. So, you must take care of the following points:

  1. Don’t peel the cap. Poisonous mushrooms can exude harmful fumes on peeling.
  2. All mushrooms growing in woody substrates are not safe.
  3. An animal eating any mushroom is not an indication of a harmless mushroom. Animals’ digestive systems are quite different. They may show no sign of illness even when they have eaten them unknowingly. That will not be the case with human-beings; they will immediately show signs of illness or discomfort on the consumption of a harmful mushroom.

Essential characteristics of unsafe mushrooms

If you know a thing or two about unsafe mushrooms, it can serve you right while hunting. Some identifying features of poisonous mushrooms will be:

  1. White gills, skirt on the stem, and a sack-like base. 
  2. Cap or stem can be red in color
  3. Tasting the mushroom directly from its site of growing can be a fatal move; never do it.

When you have considered these points, you have significantly filtered many unsafe mushrooms from the crop. Though all identification procedures require experience and comfort with other additional testing methods, a physical check can help pick better and safer varieties. 

To sum up, physical checking and lab testing collectively can help in picking the safe mushrooms. Unless you have devoted years to collecting mushrooms, it is advisable to seek professionals’ help; it can help stay safe.