Eva Grimme, Montana State University, and Lina Rodriguez-Salamanca, Iowa State University

When identifying mushrooms, some key information will make your efforts more successful:

  1. Make sure that the sample includes all major parts of the mushroom (base, stem, gills, cap).
  2. Have clients wrap mushrooms in wax or newspaper and store them in the refrigerator.
  3. Know the substrate the mushroom grew on (wood, soil, lawn, etc.).
  4. Did the mushroom grow in a cluster or alone? Often, you can extract this information from good digital photos submitted by the client.
  5. Identify the cap shape (conical, convex, flat, ovate, etc.) and gill attachment (gills, pores, ridges, or teeth); [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushroom#/media/File:Mushroom_cap_morphology2.png ].
  6. Make a spore print by placing the mushroom cap onto a piece of paper or glass slide; cover the cap with a small bowl overnight and allow the spores to fall; remove the cap, make note of the spore color, and save the spores.
  7. Find reliable mushroom identification keys that you like and follow the key questions; Online examples:
  8. Identify and connect with local and regional experts that can help you with hard to key out specimens. In some states, mycologists volunteer to do emergency identification for local poison control cases.
  9. Consider having a disclaimer explaining clients the risks of consuming mushrooms, even for those considered edible.



  1. Mushrooms of the Midwest. Michael Kuo and Andrew Methven. 2014. University of Illinois Press. ISBN-13: 978-0252079764.
  2. Mushrooms of the Rocky Mountain Region. Vera Evenson. 2015. Timber Press. ISBN-13: 978-1604695762.
  3. The Essential Guide to Rocky Mountain Mushrooms by Habitat. Cathy Cripps, Vera Evenson, and Michael Kuo. 2016. University of Illinois Press. ISBN-13: 978-0252081460.
  4. USDA Field guide to common macrofungi in eastern forests and their ecosystem functions. Michael Ostry, Neil Anderson, and Joseph O’Brien. 2011. Forest Service. ISBN-13: 978-0160886119.




Poison Control Center : call 1-(800) 222-1222 or go tohttps://www.poison.org/