How to Distinguish Poisonous Mushrooms in Nature

Knowing what to eat when you’re left in the wild will surely go a long way. And when your last hope to survive is by eating mushrooms. Knowing the difference between a poisonous and an edible one could be a life or death situation.

Mushrooms come in different varieties. While some mushrooms are edible, there are those which are poisonous to humans. When you get stuck on your own in the wild, it’s important to know what those edible mushrooms are.

In this article, I’ll be teaching you how to distinguish poisonous mushrooms in nature. There are several mushroom species that are known by science as edible. But there are those which are poisonous and could be deadly when eaten.


But before we begin, Let me share with you some tips and facts in mushroom picking. This will help you understand the importance of knowing what to look for in a poisonous mushroom. Before you pick up and eat fresh mushrooms, there are some things that you first need to consider.

  • The first thing that you need to understand is that not every part of the mushroom is edible. Yes, most mushrooms that are being sold in the market today are wholly edible. But when you’re in the wild, there are those mushrooms that aren’t wholly edible.
  • Don’t let looks deceive you. There are those mushrooms that look really edible and safe to eat. But don’t get easily fooled. Most people who suffer from mushroom poisoning are caused by deception. They eat those poisonous which look similar to your regular mushrooms.
  • Make sure and don’t second guess. It really pays when you’re sure on what you’re going to eat. When you’re not sure if the mushroom is edible or not don’t second guess and just leave it. It’s better safe than getting poisoned by an unknown mushroom.

These are just some tips that you need to consider before going mushroom picking in the wild. Stay vigilant and always be cautious of what you eat in the wild. Your survival will solely depend on your knowledge of mushrooms.

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How to Distinguish Poisonous Mushrooms in Nature

Now that you understand the importance of mushroom picking. It’s time to distinguish the edible mushrooms from the poisonous ones. You’ll need to pay attention to every detail that’s being considered here for your own safety.

  • False Morel

A false morel is a mushroom that has an irregular shape and wrinkled structure. It has a wrinkled cap and a wrinkled stem. This type of mushroom is easy to spot because of its structure. It’s also one of the common types of mushroom that you’ll encounter.

What you need to know is that there is what we call a true and a false morel. A true morel is edible while a false morel can be both edible and not edible. This is because not all false morel is poisonous. However, just to be safe, pick up only a true morel.

There are a number of ways to identify a false morel from a true morel. And one of which is that a true morel has a hollow interior. While a false morel has a solid interior from the cap and the stem. Another reason to avoid morels is that some people have allergies to this type of mushroom.

  • Parasol Shaped Mushrooms

While a parasol shaped mushroom might look appealing and edible. This type of mushroom is what most poisonous mushrooms look like. The appearance of this kind of mushroom, as its name suggests, looks like a parasol.

It has a wide umbrella-like caps and a long stem which resembles an open umbrella. Its color can vary from dirty white to brown colored caps. It can also grow with spots and rings which is very easy to identify.

Mushrooms of this type are deadly because it can grow almost anywhere. It can even grow in your own backyard where your children play. So, if you ever see or encounter this kind of mushroom please ignore it for your safety.

  • Black Mushrooms

Your instincts might tell you already that black mushrooms are a no go when it comes to edibility. But just to be sure, we’ll put it on this list. Black mushrooms are understandably dangerous as the color black is associated with poison.

There are numerous reasons why black mushrooms are dangerous. The first reason is that the black color represents decay. Most discoloration on mushrooms. Signifies that the mushroom is already undergoing some chemical process.

You don’t want to put something in your mouth that’s undergoing something as chemical change. The second reason to avoid black mushroom is that it might be infected with something. The black spots on your mushroom might signify that it’s poisonous so avoid it.

  • Decaying and Shrunken Mushrooms

Never eat a decaying mushroom. It’s as simple as that, but some people still dare to take the risk. What some people don’t understand is that, when a mushroom undergoes the process of decay. The mushroom releases a chemical that’s deadly to the body.

To distinguish, just go for fresh and healthy mushrooms. You don’t have to be an expert to know what a decaying mushroom looks like from a fresh one. But for those who can’t seem to tell the difference, here’s what you need to look for.

First of all, check the color of the mushroom. Compare side by side two mushrooms of the same kind and look for differences in their appearance. This is the easiest way on how you can identify a decaying mushroom from a fresh one.

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There will always be a consequence when you make a wrong assessment whether a mushroom is edible or not. So make the right choice by studying different methods in identifying poisonous mushrooms. And consider these facts as it can one day save your life from poisoning. 

So, to summarize everything that you’ve read. Here are the ways on how to distinguish poisonous mushrooms in nature.

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    Avoid False Morel
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    Avoid Parasol Shaped Mushrooms
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    Avoid Black Mushrooms
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    Never Eat Decaying Mushrooms

Thank you for reading! So did you like the article? If you did, please like and share this article with your fellow gardeners. So that they too will have a bountiful garden this season.

Ella Wilson

Hi! This is Ella Wilson, the founder of Being a devotee with plants and gardens, you will find numerous things with me. I have developed enough interest regarding plants that these things do not bore me anymore; instead this has become my passion.