Pictorial Key to Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest
by Danny Miller, education@psms.org
(version 2.4.1 - Please send feedback!)

Visit my sister website: Danny's DNA Discoveries, where I go into much more detail about all the current genetic evidence for what species occur here, named and unnamed. This is a work in progress and only some mushroom groups have information so far.

(returns a list of pages you must search individually)

Pick a category: (if you promise you've read the instructions below). Art © Christine Roberts.

Hover to see the definition of a category; for mobile browsers click here.

Here is a guide to help you identify over 1,500 different mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest, an area that includes all of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Southwestern British Columbia. About half of these mushrooms are also widely found across all of North America and in similar climates around the world (like Europe).

Thank you to the photographers who generously donated their images to this project. They retain copyright protection for their work. Do not reproduce any of these photographs! This would never have been possible without the photography of Steve Trudell, Noah Siegel, Michael Beug, Drew Parker, Paul Kroeger, Fred Rhoades, Buck McAdoo, Adolf and Oluna Ceska, Christine Roberts, Daniel Winkler, Bryce Kendrick, Kent Brothers, Joe Ammirati, Renée Lebeuf, Debbie Viess, Erin Page Blanchard, Matt Trappe, Jim Trappe, Jim Ginns, Ian Gibson, Christian Schwarz, Paul Hill, Tim Sage, Wendy Boes, John Davis, Marian Maxwell, Sava Krstic, Harvey and Pam Janszen, Janet Lindgren, Jen Strongin, Derek Hevel, Shannon Adams, Dimitar Bojantchev, Brandon Matheny, Jonathan L Frank, Alan Rockefeller, Steve Ness, Lauren Ré, Josh Powell and the libraries of Ben Woo, Kit Scates and Harley Barnhart, Joy Spurr, Ron Pastorino, Matthew Koons, Kim Traverse, Leah Bendlin, Richard Morrison, Jeannette Barreca, Julie Jones, Connor Dooley, Ann Goddard, Yi-Min Wang, Jacob Kalichman, the USDA Forest Service, NAMA and the Field Museum of Natural History. Many thanks are also due to Ian Gibson for a thorough review of everything, without whom this could not have been nearly as good as it is.

Before attempting to use this key, you must read these instructions. Remember, the colour coding is for scarcity, and says nothing about edibility. Don't eat anything based on what you see here. Even edible mushrooms can kill you if picked in the wrong spot. Every mushroom makes some people sick! NO MUSHROOM IS SAFE FOR EVERYBODY!
To learn more about mushrooms and read all the collected information referred to in the various pictorial pages, you might enjoy this introduction to mycology.
For a discussion on which mushrooms are actually related to each other, in contrast to which ones look alike (how I have sometimes placed them in this key), read the page on taxonomy.

GILLED MUSHROOMS - Easily confused with veined mushrooms, like chanterelles. Remember, three important things you'll need to know are spore colour, how the gills attach to the stem and where you found it. If you're not sure of the spore colour (tiny, young or dry mushrooms can be especially difficult to spore print), you'll have to try all four colour categories.

"Secotioid" or "Gastroid" gilled mushrooms are found on the gastroid page. They resemble a mutated mushroom that has partially closed up or "trufflized", with primitive remnants of a cap, gills and stem still visible if you slice the mushroom in half. Don't bother to try and take a spore print. Most have lost their ability to drop spores.

Choose a spore colour:
Pale Spores - mostly white, sometimes pale pink, yellow or orange (but never mixed with brown). Very rarely red or green (Melanophyllum or Chlorophyllum). Pinkish Salmon Spores - usually darker than the pale pink spores of the pale spored group.
Warm Brown Spores - never very dark, but light to medium brown, with warm tones like yellow or orange mixed in - or just plain brown! Milk chocolate, but not dark chocolate. All with attached gills.
Cold, Dark Spores - cold, dark colours like dark chocolate, grey or black, often with a tinge of purple.

Pale Spores - for yellow to orange spores, first try Russula or (if it bleeds), Lactarius. For pale pink, start with Rhodocollybia or Macrocystidia. For free gills, try Amanitaceae and Lepiota first. Otherwise, I'm sorry, but this is the most numerous and confusing group of mushrooms in this key. Keep reading.

Expert short-cuts:
Russula Lactarius Waxy Cap Amanitaceae
Lepiota Laccaria Gilled Boletes Oddballs
Mycenoid Marasmioid Omphalinoid Collybioid
Clitocyboid Tricholoma On Wood  

Here are the most interesting and distinctive clades of related pale spored mushrooms. While related mushrooms don't necessarily look alike (and vice versa), these groups are a pleasant exception. I often find that it helps to run down this list in my mind thinking "Are you sure it couldn't be..." before considering the stature type groups that follow.

  • Russula - easily recognized stature (browse the photos to see what they have in common)
  • entirely white when young except cap cuticle usually coloured and stem sometimes flushed reddish.
  • brittle (they do not fray when broken and the stem can snap audibly like a piece of chalk, a quality shared only by Lactarius).
  • all parts may stain brown, red or black, and the gills may turn yellow to orange from the spores.
  • adnate to decurrent gills. Not hygrophanous. Never a partial veil. Found mostly on the ground.
  • Russula and Lactarius are not related to other gilled mushrooms. Microscopically, the spores are round with warts and ridges that turn black in iodine.

Russulales - Russula

  • Lactarius - if you break the gills of a fresh Lactarius, white or coloured milk will bleed out.
  • they are also brittle textured like the related Russula, so their stems can break like chalk.
  • adnate to decurrent gills. Not hygrophanous. Never a partial veil. Found mostly on the ground.
  • unfortunately more variable in stature than Russula, but you can learn to recognize one on sight with a certain sixth sense. Try here as a last resort for an old mushroom that has stopped milking. Focus on if the stem can be cleanly broken.

Russulales - Lactarius

  • Waxy Caps - gills are often thick and widely spaced and look like they are made of wax (often the whole mushroom does).
  • the caps are often viscid and brightly coloured; even the plain white or brown mushrooms are an interesting pastel shade.
  • This can be subtle and difficult to detect. You might need practice to recognize some of these.
  • gills never free, and often decurrent. Only occasionally hygrophanous. Partial veil unusual. Only occasionally on wood.
  • microscopically, the basidia are at least 5 times longer than the spores.
  • (most often confused with Laccaria which are always orange or purple with tough, fibrous stems, and the colourful Mycenas, which are not waxy and have much thinner, delicate stems). 

Agaricales - Hygrophoraceae (Hygrocybe (Gliophorus, Humidicutus, Gloioxanthomyces, Chromosera) Hygrophorus, Cuphophyllus, Chrysomphalina, Aphroditeola, Cantharocybe, Hodophilus), Tricholomatoid (Pseudoomphalina)

  • Amanitaceae - elegant stature, free gills (but unfortunately they don't usually look free, so this group can be difficult to recognize and will take practice).
  • may have a volva of some kind at the bottom of the stem (sac, rings or collar).
  • may have warts or patches on the cap that are easily removable, or just be surrounded by cottony fluff or a layer of slime when young. Lepiota scales are not removable. You may need to check that section too for mushrooms without scales.
  • Amanita is dry capped (and never hygrophanous), but the rare Limacella is usually completely slimy and difficult to recognize! With or without a partial veil. Found on the ground.

Amanitaceae (Amanita, Saproamanita, Limacella, Zhuliangomyces, Limacelloides)

  • Lepiota s.l. - most obviously free gilled white spored mushrooms live here (since in Amanita it's not that obvious).
  • these either have free gills or are scaly (but usually both).
  • unlike Amanita, the scales are not easily removable. You may need to check that section too for those without scales.
  • always a partial veil, but sometimes disappearing. Always dry capped and not hygrophanous. Found on the ground.
  • a particularly beautiful group of mushrooms (including a small red/green spored oddball).
  • small mushrooms (<5cm) with notched gills and scaly caps and stems are probably here.
  • larger mushrooms with notched gills are probably a Tricholoma, except for some with shaggy stems.

Agaricaceae p.p. and Verrucosporaceae (Chlorophyllum, Lepiota, Leucoagaricus, Leucocoprinus, Cystolepiota, Cystoderma, Cystodermella, Floccularia, Leucopholiota, Melanophyllum, Squamanita, Dissoderma)

  • Laccaria - almost like Waxy Caps with thick, wide spaced waxy gills, but with a very tough fibrous stem.
  • dry, scaly caps with the entire mushroom either purple or orange.
  • No partial veil. Found on the ground.

Hydnangiaceae (Laccaria)

 Boletales - Hygrophoropsis

Once you have eliminated these special groups (that you will eventually learn to recognize) things get a little more difficult, as the other major clades of related mushrooms are not quite as distinctive. Unfortunately, many different mushrooms evolved to look kind of the same. We will now sort the mushrooms by stature types (sorted by shape and size, not by actual related groups).

This is probably the most difficult section of the key! You will likely need to try more than one group to find your mushroom.

  • Oddball mushrooms - This section contains oyster mushrooms, which usually grow on wood typically having no stem or a stem that is stubby and eccentric (sticking out to one side). The gills may look odd, too.
  • Also found here are wood-inhabiting, mostly non-hygrophanous mushrooms with either serrated gill edges or tough fruitbodies. That may not seem odd to you, but their relationship to other mushrooms turns out to be very odd!
  • Also found here are mushrooms with poorly developed gills that mostly grow on moss.

Russulales - Auriscalpiaceae (Lentinellus), Polyporales/Gloeophyllales (Panus, Lentinus, Neolentinus, Trametes, Gloeophyllum), Hymenochaetales (Muscinupta), Pleurotinaeae (Pleurotus, Hohenbuehelia), Marasmiineae (Pleurotopsis, Cheimonophyllum, 'Marasmiellus', Campanella), Hygrophoraceae (Arrhenia p.p., Rimbachia, Pleurocybella, Phyllotopsis, Sarcomyxa), ??? (Schizophyllum, Resupinatus, Tectella, Panellus)

  • Mycenoid - small (usually <2.5cm but sometimes larger), fragile, often conical capped when young, with no partial veil.
  • stems never tough, wiry, nor coloured darker than the caps; they break easily. Usually with fairly closely spaced gills for such a small mushroom.
  • found on ground or wood. Sometimes colourful. Viscid or dry. Often but not always hygrophanous. Gills usually attached but separate from the stem easily.
  • gills may be arcuate decurrent, but caps won't be umbilicate (unlike omphalinoid).
  • older specimens without the conical cap are very easily confused with marasmioid or  collybioid mushrooms. Some Galerina and Psathyrella may be very similar but have dark spore prints.

Marasmiineae (Atheniella, Hemimycena, Hydropus, Mycopan, Phloeomana), Mycenaceae (Mycena, Resinomycena, Roridomyces), Tricholomatineae (Fayodia, Gamundia)

  • Marasmioid - usually small, slender mushrooms (<2.5cm) with the most common one getting larger, with tough, cartilaginous, wiry or dark stems difficult to crush. A garlic or putrid odor might indicate this group (or collybioid).
  • few widely spaced gills (unlike some mycenoid and collybioid species, which they are easily confused with).
  • flatter shaped young cap than the often conical mycenoids.
  • gills attached, found on the ground or on wood. Dry capped. No partial veil.  

Marasmiineae (Marasmius, 'Marasmiellus', Campanella, Crinipellis, Mycetinis, Gymnopus, Paragymnopus, Pseudomarasmius, Collybiopsis, Rhizomarasmius, Xeromphalina)

  • Omphalinoid - small mushrooms (<2.5cm across and with a thin stem a few mm thick or less).
  • dry, depressed to umbilicate cap centre and often strongly decurrent gills. The cap edge is often uplifted.
  • found on the ground, moss or wood. No partial veil.
  • (clitocyboid mushrooms are very similar, but usually larger (>2.5cm). Especially colourful, waxy species are Waxy Caps).

Hygrophoraceae (Arrhenia p.p., Lichenomphalia, Aphroditeola), Tricholomatineae (Myxomphalia, Omphalina, Pseudolaccaria, Pseudoomphalina), Hymenochaetales (Rickenella, Loreleia, Contumyces), Marasmiineae (Xeromphalina, Heimiomyces)

  • Collybioid - small to medium sized mushrooms (1-10cm but occasionally 15cm or more) with convex to flat caps
  • mostly with adnexed (to adnate) gills, gills often more closely spaced than marasmioids.
  • on the ground, debris, cones or other mushrooms. Mushrooms normally growing on wood may appear to be coming from the ground, so if you can't find it here, check the wood inhabiting section too.
  • the cap is sometimes hygrophanous and the stems are sometimes tough or cartilaginous (never true of Tricholoma). Not viscid, no partial veil.
  • marasmioids are similar, so if you don't find your mushroom here, try there. Some mycenoid species are not very conical and very similar too. Decurrent gills are much more common on those pages than here.
  • mushrooms with adnate gills overlap with clitocyboids - try the smaller ones (<10cm) here first and the larger ones there.

Marasmiineae (Baeospora, Gymnopus, Collybiopsis, Rhodocollybia, Strobilurus), Tricholomatineae (Collybia, Dendrocollybia, Lyophyllum, Clitocybe p.p., Macrocystidia, Rugosomyces, Tephrocybe, Callistosporium, Omphaliaster, Asterophora, Pseudolaccaria, Pseudobaeospora), Pluteaceae (Melanoleuca)

  • Clitocyboid - medium to large mushrooms (>2.5cm), caps not conical.
  • with decurrent (to adnate) gills, those with umbilicate caps are usually larger than the omphalinoid group.
  • mushrooms with adnate gills overlap with collybioid - try the smaller ones (<10cm) there first and the larger ones here.
  • found mostly on the ground. Mushrooms normally growing on wood may appear to be coming from the ground, so if you can't find it here, check the wood inhabiting section too.
  • rarely viscid. Rarely a partial veil (or two).

Hygrophoraceae (Ampulloclitocybe, Cantharocybe, Cantharellula), Tricholomatineae (Clitocybe, Gamundia, Myxomphalia, Pseudoclitocybe, Pseudolaccaria, Pseudoomphalina, Infundibulicybe, Lepista, Leucopaxillus, Cleistocybe, Catathelasma), Marasmiineae (Clitocybula), Boletales (Hygrophoropsis)

  • Tricholoma - medium to large mushrooms (2.5-15+cm) usually stockier than the former categories.
  • fleshy (not rubbery) stem, non-hygrophanous cap that is sometimes scaly, usually notched gills and found on the ground.
  • dry or viscid. Partial veil or not. Easily confused with some collybioid mushrooms.
  • (mushrooms <5cm with a scaly/shaggy stem, or >5cm with a shaggy stem may be on the Lepiota page).

Tricholomatineae - Tricholoma

  • Wood Inhabiting - small to large, meeting the criteria for either collybioid or clitocyboid. Other stature types with wood inhabiting mushrooms have them included on their page. Caps usually >2.5cm, but growing on wood.  The wood may be buried in the ground, so try this category if you can't find your terrestrial mushroom elsewhere. Many things sometimes grow on wood, so you may have to check the collybioid and clitocyboid pages too.
  • gills never free. Partial veil or viscid cap only for Armillaria.
  • (Tough mushrooms and those with serrated gill edges are oddballs. This can be subtle, so try that page for anything >2.5cm and decurrent gills if you can't find it here).

Marasmiineae (Megacollybia, Armillaria, Baeospora, Flammulina, Clitocybula, Collybia (Gymnopus)), Hygrophoraceae (Pseudoarmillariella), Pleurotineae (Tricholomopsis), Tricholomatineae (Hypsizygus, Ossicaulis, Callistosporium, Pseudoclitocybe)

Pink Spores

Be cautioned that Agaricus free gills may be pink in youth before the dark chocolate spores mature, they will have a partial veil.

Expert links: Entolomataceae Pluteaceae

  • Entolomataceae - Attached gills, usually on the ground, but occasionally on wood or other mushrooms.
  • other features often include dry caps and no partial veil.
  • a few oddball species with eccentric or missing stems may also be found in this group.
  • One of the most beautiful groups of mushrooms, the enchanting Leptonias, are included here.

(Entoloma s.l., Entocybe, Nolanea, Leptonia s.l., Alboleptonia, Paraeccilia, Inocephalus, Pouzarella, Trichopilus, Clitopilus, Rhodocybe, Claudopus), Pluteoid (Macrocystidia)

  • Pluteaceae - Free gills, usually on wood.
  • other features also include dry caps, no partial veil, and only occasionally a hygrophanous cap.
  • they often have a recognizable elegant stature, like Amanita, and some have a volva like Amanita too.

Pluteaceae (Pluteus, Volvopluteus), Hygrophoroid (Volvariella)

Warm Brown Spores

Expert links: Oysters Gilled Boletes Cortinarius
Gymnopilus On Ground On Wood LBMs

Crepidotaceae p.p. (Crepidotus), Strophariaceae p.p. (Melanotus), Boletales (Tapinella)

  • Gilled Boletes - four distinctive mushrooms, including 2 of the "oysters" found above, are related to the boletes.
  • 1. decurrent gills and a strongly inrolled cap margin, usually under birch.
  • 2. a large velvet stemmed "oyster" with an off centre stem, on wood.
  • 3. a stemless "oyster" on wood with wavy gills
  • 4. like a bolete with bright yellow gills and possibly staining blue, on the ground.
  • in common: dry caps, no partial veil. Admittedly, other mushrooms share all these traits, but examine and eliminate this group before spending time in the next categories.

Boletales - (Paxillus, Tapinella, Phylloporus)

  • Cortinarius - often with rusty orange-brown spores, growing on the ground.
  • the partial veil is often a cortina (cob-web like and rarely elastic) instead of a flap of skin (with one important exception you need to learn) although other brown and dark spored genera may also have cortinas.
  • small to large, dry or viscid capped.
  • when the spores are ordinary brown, they could be mistaken for the "Medium/Large terrestrial" category, below. The smallest ones could also be mistaken for "LBMs", also below.

Cortinariaceae (Cortinarius)

  • Gymnopilus - rusty orange-brown spores, found on wood, bitter tasting.
  • small to large usually orange-brown fruitbodies, dry capped. With or without a partial veil.

Hymenogastraceae p.p.? (Gymnopilus)

  • Medium to Large Terrestrial - (>2.5cm), found on ground (or wood chips) that is not burnt. Regular brown spores.
  • with veil (cortinate or fleshy) or not, cap viscid or not, scaly or not.
  • some dry capped species may be found on wood. The smaller ones overlap in size with the "LBMs", below. Some Cortinarius, above, have spores that are ordinary brown, and might be confused with this group.

Inocybaceae p.p. (Inocybe), Strophariaceae p.p. (Agrocybe), Hymenogastraceae p.p. (Hebeloma, Meottomyces, Phaeocollybia), Agaricaceae p.p. (Phaeolepiota), Cortinariaceae (Cortinarius)

  • Medium to Large Wood-inhabiting (Pholiota s.l.) - medium size (>2.5cm) on wood or burned ground, rarely wood chips.
  • mostly yellow-brown mushrooms with "regular" brown spores, caps often viscid and scaly, occasionally hygrophanous.
  • partial veil that often disappears.
  • the smaller ones overlap in size with "LBMs", below. Some mushrooms in terrestrial genera may be found on wood, but they usually have dry caps.

Strophariaceae p.p. (Pholiota, Kuehneromyces, Pachylepyrium, Hemipholiota) Hymenogastraceae p.p. (Flammula, Hemistropharia?)

  • LBMs - the smallest brown spored mushrooms (mostly <2.5cm but some are larger), containing the genera most known for small and delicate fruit bodies.
  • if it doesn't fit into a previous category try here - most features are quite variable. Found on the ground or on wood, cap viscid or dry, hygrophanous or not, gills free to decurrent.
  • the larger ones overlap in size with the previous two groups, which may have small mushrooms but typically have stockier stems or larger relatives. But do check the other appropriate page (terrestrial or on wood) as well.

Hymenogastraceae p.p. (Galerina?, Alnicola), Crepidotaceae s.l. p.p. (Tubaria, Phaeomarasmius, Simocybe, Flammulaster), Bolbitiaceae p.p. (Conocybe, Bolbitius), Strophariaceae p.p. (Deconica (Melanotus))

Dark Spores

Expert links: Gilled Boletes Agaricus Inky Caps
  Psathyrella Panaeolus Strophariaceae

  • Gilled Boletes - separated from the others by being strongly decurrent and secondarily, either looking like a tent spike or being slimy and often having a yellow stem base.
  • found on the ground.

Boletales (Gomphidius, Chroogomphus)

  • Agaricus - free gills, dark chocolate spores (but pink gills can fool you), often with a ring on the stem.
  • dry caps, often large or at least stocky, found on the ground either in forests or in grass.
  • most look like a button mushroom or Portobello, because those popular store bought mushrooms are in fact one of these.

Agaricaceae p.p. (Agaricus)

  • Inky Caps - Black spores, cap sometimes umbrella shaped when young (at least as tall as they are wide).
  • caps often but not always turning to ink before they can rot, sometimes within hours.
  • often strongly striate, sometimes only this separates them from Psathyrella, next.
  • On wood, ground, grass or dung, often very fragile with white stems.
  • not hygrophanous, dry caps, attached gills usually crowded together, sometimes seceding or breaking away to look free.

Psathyrellaceae p.p. (Coprinellus, Coprinopsis, Parasola) Agaricaceae p.p. (Coprinus)

  • Psathyrella/Panaeolus - black or very dark spores, cap not turning to ink and less striate.
  • often very fragile and white stemmed.
  • dry, somewhat hygrophanous caps, attached gills. Found on wood, ground, grass or dung.

Psathyrellaceae p.p. (Psathyrella s.l., Lacrymaria), Panaeolinae (Panaeolus)

  • Strophariaceae s.l. p.p. - attached gills (often adnate), purple-black to purple-brown spores.
  • not very fragile, dry or viscid caps, partial veil or not, found on wood or on the ground.

Strophariaceae p.p. (Stropharia, Protostropharia, Leratiomyces, Hypholoma, Bogbodia, Phaeonematoloma, Psilocybe, Deconica), Hymenogastraceae? (Hemistropharia), Psathyrellaceae? (Mythicomyces, Stagnicola)


The Basidiomycota phyla groups are grouped for convenience by shape and size, and do not necessarily represent related groups of mushrooms. The Ascomycota phyla groups roughly represent different classes (or sections of a class) that are related to each other.

  • Boletes - These mushrooms have a cap and stem like gilled mushrooms, but sponge-like pores underneath the cap.
  • they are usually soft enough to chew, and the pores can be separated from the cap easily, unlike in the polypores.
  • dry or viscid, partial veil or not. Found mostly on the ground.
"Secotioid" or "Gastroid" boletes are found on the gastroid page. They resemble a mutated mushroom that has partially closed up or "trufflized", with primitive remnants of a cap, pores and stem still visible if you slice the mushroom in half.

Boletales (Boletus, Butyriboletus, Caloboletus, Hemileccinum, Aureoboletus, Buchwaldoboletus, Neoboletus, Suillellus, Rubroboletus, Leccinum, Suillus, Gyroporus, Xerocomus, Xerocomellus, Chalciporus, Porphyrellus, Hortiboletus, Pulchroboletus)

  • Polypores - often hard or tough mushrooms that you wouldn't want to chew on.
  • usually with a sponge-like pore surface, occasionally under a cap from a stemmed mushroom growing from the ground, but most often attached to wood, usually without a stem and sometimes without a cap (just pores lying flat on wood).
  • the pores cannot be easily removed from the rest of the mushroom unlike the boletes (if there is a rest of the mushroom).
  • some stemless species on wood have odd shaped pores elongated like gills or maze-like or sometimes even teeth.
  • A toothed mushroom is a cluster of spines or individual teeth, not growing flat on wood with teeth on its surface. Crusts have at most a wrinkled surface or teeth at most 3mm tall.

Polyporales (Gloeophyllales), Hymenochaetales, Agaricales, Russulales, Thelephorales

  • Crusts (Basidiomycota) - these simply grow flat on wood (or occasionally stems or leaves) as a resupinate crust possibly with a primitive cap that bends away from the wood.
  • with either no relief at all, a wrinkled surface or small teeth (<3mm) embedded in the surface, but never quite as developed as true polypores.
  • not covered in pimples (look carefully!), nor growing on mushrooms or insects or wheat (those are covered next).
  • rubbery blobs on wood that are not brittle are jellies.
  • smooth-ish whitish crusts are probably the most difficult of all the groups to identify.

Polyporales (Gloeophyllales), Hymenochaetales, Agaricales, Boletales, Russulales, Gomphales, Thelephorales, Atheliales, Corticiales, etc.

  • Crusts (Ascomycota) - usually a hard crust or a fuzzy mold covered in pimples (very small, best seen with a hand lens), because the spores only grow in clusters inside each pimple, but nowhere else.
  • usually growing on wood, other mushrooms or even insects! If it's not growing on wood, try here, even if you can't see the pimples.

Sordariomycetes, Dothideomycetes

  • Toothed - with teeth or spines underneath the cap, but sometimes they are just a mass of spines without a cap or stem.
  • they hang down like icicles, whereas clubs grow upwards.
  • Clusters of spines or individual teeth growing out of wood that are not jelly-like belong here. Tooth-like pores or bumps growing out of a flat surface growing on wood belong in crusts.

Cantharellales (Hydnum, Sistotrema), Thelephorales (Hydnellum, Bankera, Sarcodon, Phellodon), Russulales (Echinodontium, Auriscalpium, Hericium), Agaricales (Mucronella), Auriculariales (Pseudohydnum)

  • Veined - Chanterelles and similar looking mushrooms, these might be mistaken for regular cap and stem gilled mushrooms, but the "gills" are blunter and thicker, more like speed bumps than blades and usually not as deep.
  • some veins look very much like gills, some are so irregular that they are not likely to be mistaken for gills, and some species are almost completely smooth underneath. Veined mushrooms are fleshy, have stems, and are found on the ground.
  • veined/wrinkled surfaces growing flat on wood are found under crusts. Tiny smooth or veined stemless mushrooms growing on moss are considered gilled oddballs. Some small, fragile mushrooms (especially white ones) with central stems and reduced gills are related to and considered gilled mushrooms.

Cantharellales (Cantharellus, Craterellus), Gomphales (Gomphus, Turbinellus), Thelephorales (Polyozellus)

  • Bird's Nests - You'll recognize most of these on sight, because they really do often look like little bird's nests filled with one or more "eggs". After the eggs have splashed out, they may resemble other cups!
  • growing on wood, debris, soil or dung.
  • their identity may be hidden by the nest being covered by a lid when young, and sometimes they are just a tiny cushion, not recognizable until you poke them open and find one or more "eggs" inside.

Agaricaceae p.p. (Nidula, Crucibulum, Cyathus, Nidularia) Geastrales (Sphaerobolus)

  • Clubs (Basidiomycota) - these mushrooms have a regular brittle mushroom texture but are simple club-shaped cylinders (or very occasionally branched) growing up from the ground or pieces of wood.
  • they are usually uniformly shaped and colourful (not black and white).
  • they do not have any part that can be clearly differentiated as the "head" (although they may thicken towards the top or experience a colour change), unless they are very slender (<1mm). Nor are they covered in pimples. (These exceptions are covered next).
  • (if they are short and small on wood and have the texture of rubber they might be a jelly, or if they are small and grow densely forming a flat covering on wood they might be a crust. The teeth of toothed mushrooms resemble clubs but they hang down like icicles).

Agaricales (Clavaria, Mucronella, Clavulinopsis, Typhula, Macrotyphula, Pterula), Hymenochaetales? (Alloclavaria), Russulales (Clavicorona), Cantharellales (Multiclavula), Gomphales (Clavariadelphus), Dacrymycetes-Dacrymycetales (Calocera)

  • Clubs - Stinkhorns (Basidiomycota) - either club shaped or elaborately shaped, hatching out of "eggs" and getting their name from the stinky slime they are coated in that attracts flies to spread their spores.
  • rare and interesting, found on and under ground.
  • Some morels and relatives look similar, but do not hatch out of "eggs".

Phallales (Phallus, Mutinus, Dictyophora, Lysurus, Clathrus, Pseudocolus)

  • Clubs - Earth Tongues (Ascomycota) - usually have a differentiated head of some sort (at least a little bit more than just a colour change or a thickening) and are not very slender (>1mm), and are not covered in pimples (those are next).
  • the head is not a cup or disc shape (those are found under Cups), but convex, rounded or flattened vertically and not usually as complex as a morel or false morel.

Leotiomycetes p.p., Geoglossomycetes, Eurotiomycetes p.p. Neolectomycetes. Also: Basidiomycota p.p., Zygomycota p.p.

  • Clubs - Flasks (Ascomycota) - usually covered in pimples (very small, best seen with a hand lens) but one common species is not, but is black and white with occasional branches.
  • they grow on wood, other mushrooms or even insects!


  • Corals - More complicated shapes than the club mushrooms, sometimes highly branched and looking more like sea coral than a mushroom. (Very occasional branching might still be considered a club).
  • usually each branch is a club-like tube, but sometimes they are flattened, with no real texture to either side of the "leaf".
  • brittle (not rubbery, those are jellies) and usually found on the ground, but sometimes on wood.
  • (never found on other mushrooms or animals - those are flasks).

Agaricales (Clavulinopsis, Ramariopsis), Cantharellales (Clavulina, Craterellus), Gomphales (Lentaria, Ramaria), Auriculariales (Tremellodendropsis), Hymenochaetales (Cotylidia, Stereopsis), Thelephorales (Thelephora, Polyozellus), Polyporales (Sparassis), Russulales (Artomyces)

  • Jellies (Basidiomycota and Ascomycota) - these wiggle and are difficult to break, with a rubbery texture like jello.
  • most are blob shaped, but some are shaped like clubs or corals, or even have a cap and stem type form.
  • most grow on wood, but some come from the ground or grow on other mushrooms.

Basidiomycota - [Dacrymycetes-Dacrymycetales (Dacrymyces, Guepiniopsis, Ditiola, Heterotextus, Dacryopinax, Calocera), Tremellomycetes-Tremellales (Tremella, Phaeotremella, Syzygospora), Agaricomycetes-Auriculariales (Auricularia, Exidia, Myxarium, Pseudohydnum, Guepinia), Sebacinales (Sebacina, Craterocolla, Efibulobasidium), Polyporales (Phlebia)] Ascomycota - [Leotiomycetes p.p.]

  • Puffballs and Earthstars - these mushrooms are like little balls with the spores growing inside a closed shape, perhaps with an outler layer opening up like rays of a starfish, and rarely with a stem.
  • they grow above ground, and the inside usually starts out soft and white like a marshmallow, becoming dark and powdery in age.

Agaricales, Boletales, Geastrales

  • Truffles - (Basidiomycota, Ascomycota, etc.) - these mushrooms are like little balls with the spores growing inside a closed shape, usually partly or entirely below ground.
  • Basidiomycota, Glomeromycota and Zygomycota species are those that are not a uniform texture inside, or if they are, they are porous and spongy or gelatinous.
  • Ascomycota have uniform interiors that are either solid and marbled, empty, chambered or gooey.

Basidiomcota - Agaricales, Russulales, Boletales, Hysterangiales, Geastrales, Gomphales.  Ascomycota - Pezizomycetes p.p., Eurotiomycetes p.p.  Glomeromycota p.p.  Zygomycota p.p.

  • Morels and False Morels - (Ascomycota) - a highly prized groups of mushrooms, the morels (as well as the false morels) have very interesting shapes, a kind of a "brain or saddle on a stick" look about them with a complex well defined head.
  • (the earth tongues have a flattened or convex head not quite as complicated, the large cups with a stem have a cup for a head, and the similar stinkhorns hatch out of an "egg").

Pezizomycetes p.p.

  • Large Cups (Ascomycota) - this category is for relatively brittle mushrooms with or without a stem that are shaped like cups or saucers (concave to flat) or sometimes convex cushions (if they are stemless).
  • wiggly, rubbery cups on wood are jellies. Tiny cups at first filled with what looks like one or more bird's eggs are bird's nests. (Old specimens will be missing the eggs)!
  • these may or may not have a stem. If there is a stem, the cap is not convex (those are found in the earth tongues).
  • almost every mushroom of this shape whose cup is >1cm in width is in this category, smaller ones are below.

Pezizomycetes p.p.

  • Small Operculate Cups (Ascomycota) and Basidiomycota - the description is the same as for the related large cups, but these are mostly <1cm in width.
  • they can be separated macroscopically from the very similar unrelated inoperculate cups below by the fact that they are rarely found on wood or plant debris; they are found on dung, burnt ground, burnt wood, moss or the ground.
  • tiny, hairy cups at first filled with one or more "bird's eggs" are bird's nests. (Old specimens will be missing the eggs)!
  • if the cap is convex instead of concave or plane and there is a stem, see the earth tongues instead.
  • also included are the few small Basidiomycota on moss that more resemble cups than they do any of the other Basidiomycota categories.

Pezizomycetes p.p. Basidiomycota [Hymenochaetales - Cyphellostereum, Agaricales - Hygrophoroid (Arrhenia, Rimbachia)]

  • Small Inoperculate Cups (Ascomycota) and Basidiomycota - this group of cups <1cm wide are recognized macroscopically by generally growing on wood or plant debris.
  • tiny, hairy cups at first filled with one or more "bird's eggs" are bird's nests. (Old specimens will be missing the eggs)!
  • if the cap is clearly convex instead of concave or plane and there is a stem, see the earth tongues instead.
  • also included are the few small Basidiomycota on wood that more resemble cups than they do any other Basidiomycota category.

Leotiomycetes p.p.  Basidiomycota [Agaricales - Marasmioid (Calyptella, Henningsomyces, Lachnella, Merismodes), Russulales (Aleurodiscus)]

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