How to Identify Mushrooms

John Uncategorized 1 Comment

Imagine a world where every ID request was filled with abundant information like habitat, substrate, spore print, and location.

Oh what a world…

We don’t live in perfection but the perfect ID request is surely achievable.

Don’t let your mushroom findings go unidentified because of a blurry picture, or lack of details.

I wrote this blog post just for you, dear reader, with the hopes that your mushrooms will be clearly identified for the benefit of us all.

Now, let’s get started.

How to start
If you’re starting from zero and have no idea what kind of fungus, slime mold, or lichen you’ve found, then follow these steps.

Things to include,

1. A great photo (important)
2. Substrate (what it is growing from)
3. Location
4. Gills
5. Stem
6. Spore print
7. Habitat
8. Scent
9. Taste
10. Color (and color changes)
11. Any other notes that you find important

It’s okay if you don’t have all of the information listed above. Just include as much as possible in your post.

For multiple requests in the same post, follow these guidelines.

A. Make sure to post only one species per picture.

B. Label each species with a number.

C. Provide details for each.

Remember that spore prints are one of the most important identification features. Make sure to take the time to create one for each (if you can) and include it in your ID request.

Examples of bad ID requests

If you don’t have some, or all of the components needed for making a request, it’s still okay to request an I.d. as long as you are as DETAILED as possible.

Here’s an example of an I.d. request that won’t get any attention, let alone a suggested i.d.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The request was 4 hours old and the subreddit isn’t that active, but where does one even start in identifying this?

No description whatsoever of any kind and to top it off, it’s an LBM.

To me, I’d say it may be a Panaeolus species by the way it looks, but my confidence level would be at maybe 50% with that ID.

Fungi are some of the trickiest organisms to identify. BE SPECIFIC!

let’s take a look at a better ID request, but one that is still lacking.

Even though the request barely contains detailed information, the pictures are clear and detailed, and displays the full body of the fruit (like gills and stipe)

Clear and detailed photos can sometimes be enough to identify. This doesn’t mean you should only post pictures…

This, coupled with the fact that it was found in lawn in Ohio, it’s safe to say that it’s an Agaricus species. (I think the ID came to A. campestris; a very common edible)

ID requests for confirmation.

This is where it’s okay to be paranoid. In fact, we encourage it.

Everyone’s heard of a phrase that goes something like, “Even expert mycologists make mistakes”. This is very true even to this day.

This is a chance to go through the list of variables and cross reference other searches for the mushroom you think you’ve found.

When you’re ABSOLUTELY positive that you’ve done all of your own necessary homework, can you then ask post your request.

Go ahead and include in the title of your I.d. request, that you are trying/or think you have found “X” species. This will make it easier for people to tell you yes, or no.

If you think you’ve found Laetiporous sulphureus, but you need the confidence of someone else’s confirmation, then feel free to post something like this,

Also, don’t be upset if you don’t get specifics. Someone could tell you that you haven’t found what you’re looking for, and someone else could maybe give you a hint as to what you’ve found.

I.D. requests are a completely crowdsourced and unfunded service. People find joy in identifying so don’t give them lip when you don’t hear what you want.

Congratulations! Your mushroom is on its way to becoming thoroughly identified !

Where should you post?

There are many sites where you can go and post an I.d. request. Some are better than others for many reasons. Regardless, I’ll list the best sites here…


In case you’re an indecisive person, I’d recommend, facebook groups, and for I.D requests.

They’re the most active communities with known Trusted Identifiers amongst them, especially

It contains tags like “Trusted Identifier” , “Journeyman”, or “Stranger” to let you know how knowledgeable a user is.

So you’ve achieved the perfect I.D. request with all of the above details included

(Nice job! Seriously.)

Now just wait a little bit for people to suggest proposed names and nomenclatures.

Though, even with the perfect request, it still doesn’t mean that you will be guaranteed an exact species I.d.

Why not?

A lot of the time, microscopy is necessary for an even more accurate identification. (invest in a microscope). But there are some genera that require thorough phylogenetics to find how they’re truly related to each other.

Most of these genera are awaiting the privilege of modern technology to become indexed into the genome. i.e. Russula sp., Hygrocybe sp., Entoloma sp.

They all need WAY more research to be done before their genera is to be fully understood.

Want to contribute your specimens? I’ll probably write a whole other blog post on just submitting specimens for study.

So stay tuned by subscribing to us in the sidebar of this page!

Anyways, if you’d like an accurate I.d on a red-capped Russula sp., you can be sure that you’d be forwarded to Michael Kuo’s url

Hope you got some value out of this post!

Let’s keep the internet clean and tidy with gorgeous and well formatted ID requests.

Got an idea to make ID requests even better? Submit a comment and let us know!

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