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Mushroom Types

Priya Johnson Apr 29, 2019
There are over two thousand mushroom types that have been identified across the globe, and there are several ways in which they can be classified. In this write-up we've classified mushrooms as edible, poisonous, and medicinal.
Mushrooms neither come under plants nor under animals, but are classified as fungi. We are all aware of the common toad stool-shaped mushrooms, however, there are over 2000 different types of mushrooms growing on the surface of the earth, that come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
They come in white, yellow, brown, red, black, and all possible colors one can imagine. They may be fan-, button-, needle-shaped, etc. Mushrooms can be classified in scores of ways, such as the scientific way, etc. Here we will quickly classify mushrooms into three categories:

Edible Mushrooms

Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus)

This is one of the most distinctive mushrooms as its shaggy mane can be identified even from a moving train. It's the largest group of edible mushrooms available on the planet. Also known as lawyer's wig, these mushrooms have caps that feature the presence of shaggy, inside out brownish scales with white gills.
Found during spring, summer, and fall, these mushrooms are quite delicate and crumble really easily. Since they are quite delicate, they need to be picked and eaten the same day.

Bearded Tooth (Hericium erinaceus)

Also known as pom pom mushrooms, these mushrooms come under the tooth fungus group. They appear on trees and logs and look like clumps of white fur hanging from the bark. Although fresh white when young, these mushrooms yellow with age.
The best part about these mushrooms is that they have no lookalikes, and can be consumed without the fear of eating some poisonous variety. Bearded tooth mushrooms need to be eaten when young, because the yellowish, older ones taste quite sour.

Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

These types of mushrooms are known for their oyster shell-like shape that grow like shelves on the barks of trees and fallen logs. Their white, ivory-colored, flat, fan-shaped cap, white gills, and soft inner flesh is found growing during the spring, summer, and fall. They occur in clusters in an overlapping fashion.
Since these mushrooms are easy to grow, these are favored by commercial growers. Although oyster mushrooms have several lookalikes, none of them are deleterious, but, some may just be unpleasant to taste.

Poisonous Mushrooms

Jack-O'-Lantern (Omphalotus olearius)

This pumpkin-colored mushroom found in the fall, glows in the dark. In fact, some of these mushrooms also emit a slightly greenish glow at night. However, don't get fooled by its luring appearance. They may look, smell, and even taste lovely, however, these glowing fungi are toxic.
They contain a toxin called muscarine, which when ingested conduces to excessive saliva secretion, perspiration, and tears. Imagine crying after eating this mushroom! Moreover, it also results in nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, low blood pressure, difficulty in breathing, and irregular heartbeats.
Although these mushrooms come under the poisonous category, they are not life-threatening to healthy adults. Nevertheless, don't go feeding these mushrooms to people you dislike.

Destroying Angel Mushroom (Amanita virosa)

These mushrooms are white, with a cap, stem, and gills that bear semblance to the edible types. However, these mushroom contain a toxin called 'amanitin' that takes 24 hours to manifest its presence in the form of symptoms. It conduces to nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and if not treated it can lead to irreparable kidney or liver damage.
There have also been reported cases of deaths in the area after consuming these mushrooms. So be careful and stay away from these deceptive white mushrooms.

Green-spored Lepiota (Chlorophyllum molybdites)

Found in summer and fall between weeds on suburban lawns, meadows, and pastures, these mushrooms have a less rounded cap and expand until their cap flattens completely. The outer surface of the mushroom is dry and white, with brown patches that develop into scales at the center of the cap.
The gills of the mushroom is initially white, however, turns green to greenish gray as it matures. These mushrooms are toxic as they contain proteins or amino-acids that can't be tolerated by our digestive systems. Consumption of these mushroom types would conduce to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, etc., within the next one and a half hours.
Since these are common mushroom types found on the lawns in the US, one needs to be careful to uproot and discard them, lest your children or pets accidentally eat them.

Medicinal Mushrooms

Enoki/Enokitake or Winter Mushroom (Flammulina velutipes)

These long, white, thread-like mushrooms with tiny white buttons at the end are simply too pretty to eat. Having a mild flavor, these mushrooms can be tossed into salads, stir frys, or even used raw for crunch in sandwiches. What's even more remarkable about these pretty mushrooms are that they are loaded with medicinal properties.
It's found to have anti-tumor and anti-lymphoma activities. Moreover, research has also revealed that these mushrooms can boost the immune system, lower cholesterol levels, and lower high blood pressure.

Maitake, Hen of the Woods, or Sheepshead Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

Maitake means dancing in Japanese and it is believed that these mushrooms got their name because the discovery of the mushrooms was something to dance about. These mushrooms are commonly found in summer and autumn at the base of large oak trees and other hardwood trees.
Today, these mushrooms are widely cultivated for their delicious flavor and medicinal properties. These mushrooms not only boost the immune system, but also benefit the body with their antibacterial, antiviral, anti-tumor activities. They also act as blood-sugar moderators and cholesterol reducers.

Turkey-Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)

These mushrooms bear semblance to the tail of a turkey and have caps with a variety of colors like brown, buff, cinnamon, or reddish brown. They feature the presence of contrasting concentric zone of color, which gives the mushrooms a zonate look. The surface of the cap is velvety or fuzzy.
Although one of the most commonly found mushrooms in North American woods, these mushrooms grow on any dead log or decomposing wood. These mushrooms have antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-tumor, and antiviral properties. Moreover, they also form effective liver and kidney tonics.
Various types of mushrooms have several medicinal properties and have been used in Chinese medicines for centuries. However, one needs to be very careful before consuming any unknown variety. The poisonous varieties can even take your life, so, be alert and make sure the mushrooms you are eating are safe!