The Difference Between Delicious & Dangerous!!

Chanterelle Mushroom

There is a fine line between delicious and dangerous when trying to determine whether or not a wild mushroom found on the forest floor is safe for the dinner table, or poisonous to consume. The latter being what you want to avoid at all costs because digesting unsafe fungi can cause serious illness, and in some cases, even death!

[WARNING: Never attempt to eat a mushroom unless you are able to positively identify the specimen in question!!]

Warnings, like the one above, can scare you from even considering such a thing as hunting mushrooms for fear of the unthinkable, but this is why it is wise to exercise extreme caution.

Don't Give Up Yet...

There are a few varieties of edible mushrooms that can be recognized by simple characteristics, such as shape, size, and color. A few of which we learned about while bushwhacking through the ASU Woods a few weekends ago. Our main objective during this PACT hosted Edible Mushroom Tour with Dr. John Walker, an ASU Biologist, who specializes in Mycology (The study of fungi), was to seek out the shrooms and learn identification techniques with the help of a professional guide.

Mushroom Picking

I expected that during the duration of these explanations I would hear a ton of words that I hadn't ever heard before--and I did. It was almost like listening to someone speak a foreign language! One quick and basic rule of thumb that I thoroughly understood, though, was to completely avoid all fungi that had gills.

Mushroom Gills

While there may be some that are safe to consume, it is still extremely difficult to identify them. Even a highly trained instructor is hesitant to eat from that category. Not something you want to take a chance with.

Endless Possibilities....

During our trudge through the forest, we encountered many different varieties of mushrooms. While they are all pretty too look at, I now know what to steer clear of, as well as a few tasty treats we could take home should we get lucky enough to come across them again. We did, however, have the very good fortune of accidentally stumbling upon a patch of Black Trumpets when trying to find our way back to the trail.

Black Trumpet

Black Trumpets

After a few hours of foraging, we were invited to go back to Dr. Walker's class room where he had a makeshift cooking station handy so that we could taste test what we found out in the field. We devoured the tender, crispy bits while at the same time trying to savor the flavor of the fleshy fungi. This was the part where a smaller group was favorable since that meant more to go around :)

Gain Knowledge & Build Confidence....

I actually feel a lot more confident about deeming certain delectables safe since attending this foray. I don't want to get into the technical verification 'tests' involved here on WW because I don't feel qualified to provide you with the proper information, but if you're interested in learning more, the info is plentiful. Whether you find a local specialist who might enjoy giving a tour in your hometown, or you dig into a comprehensive guide book to sharpen your skills, be sure that you do your homework before "testing the waters."

Weird Blue Mushies

You can start by doing some research on what you could expect to find based on your geographical location. Look for, not only those that are edible, but others to avoid, as well as possibly poisonous lookalikes. One thing we didn't touch base on too much were spore prints, which is supposed to be another great way for the less experienced to identify edible wild mushrooms.

Deadly Discovery!

Yes, there are risks involved, but you just have to be aware and well informed to remain on the safe side. Even if you only head out with the intention of admiring and/or photographing them, think about going on your own mushroom hunting expedition once armed with new knowledge. I promise that you will make all sorts of interesting discoveries when you are closely paying attention to those often overlooked details!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend :o)


  1. Is it weird that mushrooms in the wild--even as an adult--STILL make me think of fairies? It is...

    Sounds like the kind of learning experience I would enjoy. Great pictures!

  2. I think I would leave all mushrooms for the fairies as it all seems very risky to me, deciding which is safe & which isn't.
    A very unusual and interesting post!

  3. When I first moved to Oregon with the ex- we rented a big house and in the yard were so many mushrooms. I told the people at work about them and one woman said they sounded like Honey Mushrooms. She came over after work and went nuts over the crop, kept on asking if we were sure we didn't want them, then harvested the whole yard-full in complete glee. She and her husband were experts. I still have never eaten one from the forest or the ones growing in our forested lot--wouldn't trust this without the proper instruction. You are so smart to have taken the class and it looks like it was a great day!

  4. I could never just pick up a mushroom and eat it!! Who got to test which were poisonous? I agree with Maggie. Lets the fungus for the fairies

  5. wow, that's an interesting and very educational entry. I had never seen a blue fungi before. Thanks for sharing :-)

  6. Gota say love the new blog lay out. I've been thinking of changing mine up but haven't had the time. The button in your side bar are way cool.

    I like mushrooms but never game to eat them when I find them even if the look good. Thanks for sharing this info it looks like it would have been a real interesting walk with the guide.

  7. interesting post, I've never looked for mushrooms to eat in the wild. I wouldn't know where to start. Here’s my photo story. happy Friday!

  8. what a educational trek that sounds like you experienced..... mind you, not one I would have been chomping to attends, but If you are a lover of the 'sroom, I have no desire to know or eat them..... you go ahead and

  9. Fleshy and mushroom in the same sentence gave me the heebs. lol

    Not a mushroom fan for the tasting. But for the looking, they are pretty. :)

    I especially like that guy's shirt. I like playing with DNA too!!

  10. I love mushrooms...I wouldn't know which to pick even if I read I book I am sure, but I love them, they are so yummy!

  11. that's one thing I would rather leave to the fairies. :) not sure I would ever feel confident in my abilities to determine "to die" vs "not to die".

  12. I went mushroom hunting once with a bunch of crazy russians... they picked just about anything :-o I wonder if they're still all alive, LOL!

    Lovely post, btw - loved the photos!

  13. Although it's appetizing to eat mushrooms, it's dangerous to eat those you see around your house, or in the forest i think. We got a few of them sprouting in the backyard, and frontyard of our neighbor...some of them just disappeared suddenly a day or two after showing up.

  14. Fantastic pictures! Definitely sounds like a cool hunt to go on. There have always been these massive foot sized mushrooms growing on my farm out in Saskatchewan, I've always wondered if they were edible, but chose to steer clear. I figured if the dogs weren't eating them, they musn't be any good. haha. Great post!

  15. Well I'm not sure if I would dare but sounds like you are a lot more wise about these things! Pretty damn cool :)

  16. i love this posting...

    i have been shooting mushrooms
    all week
    following 10 rainy days
    here in florida...


    i only eat the ones i find -->
    camera ♥

  17. there is an elderly couple up at our lake who are msuhroomers. they have offered on several occasions to take us but i am always a little reluctant. last weekend they were telling us about the delicious chanterelles they had eaten. now as a photo subject, another story. they are a delight to shoot.

  18. I love the "I love to play with DNA" shirt! I know this beats the point of the post but yea. The geek in me in screamingggggg! Am going to follow that shirt from now. *grins*