Home   |   About Us   |   GROW: The Book   |   Blog   |   Join Us   |   Shop   |   Forum Rules

from a mushroom hunter — The Grow Network Community
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.


from a mushroom hunter

judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 1,702 admin

Well, I wish I was a mycologist - I have read most every book I can find on identifying, growing, hunting and using mushrooms... but there are no schools that I can find, within at least a few thousand miles of where I live that teach mycology. I may go back to school to study botany, but if I concentrate on mycology within that degree program, I'd still be mostly on my own. I've been hunting for, and eating, wild mushrooms since I was in my teens. My home in the mountains of NC is a temperate rainforest. SO, most everything grows there, except morels (have to go about 1,000 ft lower in elevation to find them). A lot of my favorites are lesser known varieties... but chickens and oysters are an almost daily inclusion in meals. So, to kick this one off, here are my favorite books on mushrooms:

Radical Mycology..... this is a newer book and the author was one of my Permaculture teachers. It is huge, comprehensive, kind of "far out", but also very much on the cutting edge of what we know about mycology.

Paul Stamets books are very good if you want to grow mushrooms in laboratory conditions. The exception is Mycology Running - that is just really excellent, all around - growing indoors and outdoors, medicinal mushrooms and soil remediation... his little book on medicinal mushrooms is a good starting place, BTW (Fungal Pharmacy is better).

Mushrooms Demystified really should be the first book anyone uses if they are going to learn to hunt mushrooms without a mentor (I did, btw, but I was cautious). While that, and All THe Rain Promises are west coast US books, they are very good, because of the "keys" - like plant botany,, you learn to identify mushrooms by common features like cap shape, gills, etc. THe keys are the most important aspect of any mushroom identification book.

100 Edible Mushrooms is good because it seeks to do no more than its title suggests - good photos, and well written

Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms is really excellent - it was my only reference for a very long time. People complaint hat the author made up some of the names for mushrooms... but that is really only an issue if you are comparing it to another guide.

Mushrooms of the Southeast and The COmplete Mushroom Hunter both look very good - on my list, but I haven't bought them yet

Now, the new up and coming guy who may go even further in positive influence than Stamets (maybe, we'll see) is Tradd Cotter. His book, Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation is awesome. He is one of those guys who makes the complex simple. His company, Mushroom Mountain, in SC, has the best quality, widest variety and cheapest mushroom spawn I've seen (if you know of better and cheaper, please let me know). He offers classes there and in the Clemson, SC are and has a very cool trail, through acres of woods, where people can learn about hundreds of different mushrooms, growing in a natural environment.

I have other mushroom books, but these are my favorites, or those I'm most looking forward to reading.


  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 519 ✭✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 Thank you for sharing! Tradd Cotter was at SSAWG (Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group) Conference in Arkansas last year and I was in a workshop that he taught. I purchased Blewitt and King Stropharia spawn from them recently and will be putting out in the near future. I like Tradd, his knowledge, energy, and the work that he is doing in the United States and abroad.

    I also dig the work of Paul Stamets too. I have his "Mycelium Running" book. I have not purchased any of Tradd's books yet.

    I would add "Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States: A Field-to-Kitchen Guide" as another helpful resource.

    I was not a fan of mushrooms growing up and still am not too crazy about them now, but I try to incorprate them into my food on a regular basis because they are nutritious and good for you.

  • herbantherapyherbantherapy Posts: 383 ✭✭✭✭

    I’m sure you have looked for mycological societies in your area, but in case you or anyone else is curious this site has a good list and often there are small mycological clubs that the listed resources know about. My tiny town on the Oregon Coast has 4 groups dedicated to mycology. Some focus on area, some focus on specific fungi. All have a variety of skill and knowledge combined.

    Mushrooms Demystified was a great book/resource!!

  • Mary Linda BittleMary Linda Bittle Posts: 695 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Aside from Morels, I've always been afraid to eat any mushrooms that I find. And I do love them. I'm just chicken to trust my ID skills using only books.

  • teachercarynteachercaryn Cook at Wahlburgers The Frozen Tundra in the Northern MidwestPosts: 220 ✭✭✭

    When walking through the woods near my house, I pick the large white mushrooms and carry (one) home, as it’s very fragile. I gift it to my mother who cooks it and eats it up. I’m novice to identifying edibles however I do know not to eat the brown puffball ones.

  • Meme GrantMeme Grant Posts: 13 ✭✭✭

    Have you any idea which mushrooms would grow outside in the Azores? Island of Santa Maria? No wild edibles here but would love to grow medicinal ones and any edibles that would grow outside. Climate is Temperate oceanic. We grow apples, pears, peaches, plumbs almonds, hazelnuts, cherry guavas, guavas, physalis, bananas, cherimoya, citrus, figs. An an old sailor turned permaculturist. Would love to have guidance. Thanks.


  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 1,702 admin

    I don't know much of anything about the Azores, if it is temperate maritime climate and you can grow hard woods, you should be able to grow most mushrooms. Wine caps, oysters and shitakes are good starting places - wine caps like to grow on leaves, straw, mulch..... oysters will eat anything from paper to coffee grounds to wood or straw.... shitakes on logs are easy, reliable, productive and there is more good info about growing them online than most anything. Check the Koppen CLimate Classification system to see what else might do well where you live https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Köppen_climate_classification

  • csinclair461csinclair461 Posts: 101 ✭✭✭

    Thanks you for the resource links, I have been afraid of foraging mushrooms, because it seems like every couple of years, someone hits the news for having misidentified a mushroom. I know its a matter of learning and caution. There is a club listed in my town has monthly meetings, and a display at the library this month! Now I am encouraged to take a friend and check it out :)

  • burekcrew86burekcrew86 Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    I just looked into joining our local mushroom club. I’d love to be with people with a trained eye so that I can better identify mushrooms myself.

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,597 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 Congrats! For being one of the three winning posts of the two new topics!

  • timtandmetimtandme Posts: 92 ✭✭✭

    I have always loved mushrooms and want to forage not concerned about safety too. We have a mushroom society in the area but it is so expensive to take a class.

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 519 ✭✭✭✭

    Has anyone seen the movie, Fantastic Fungi? It's basically an ode to fungi and somewhat of a tribute to Paul Stamets, I would dare say too. I saw it a local theatre on Monday.

  • norabelehcimnorabelehcim Posts: 47 ✭✭✭

    I went back to one of my favorite stumps for foraging chanterelles (private property, with permission) and discovered someone has removed the entire stump and surrounding earth, leaving a large hole--definitely WITHOUT the owner's knowledge or permission.

    Please only forage where you are welcome, and without endangering the continuity of local flora, fauna, and fungi by over-harvesting or absconding with the entire supply.

  • Homestead HubbyHomestead Hubby Posts: 40 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for sharing. Have you looked at the Mushroom Coffee Guys. They may be able to give you some direction too.


  • maimovermaimover Posts: 292 ✭✭✭

    @Obiora E ditto...I still really don’t care for them but incorporate them into meals when I can for their health benefits for the immune system.

    @Homestead Hubby o had my very first cup of mushroom cocoa yesterday afternoon. My daughter had given me a packet to try in February and yesterday was the day. It was tasty but I think I may have put too much water. The packet called for 3.5 ounces; I did a little more but still very good!

  • tomandcaratomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 592 ✭✭✭

    If you haven't seen the Fantastic Fungi movie yet, it is currently available for streaming at this link. https://filmstreams.org/films/fantastic-fungi I don't know if it is a limited time or a permanent streaming site.

    @herbantherapy posted a link earlier and here it is again https://namyco.org/clubs.php. If there is a club close by, find out when they are doing foray's It is a great way af learning in the field what is safe and what is not.

    I still love the old saying "there are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters". It is a great hobby and find an old mushroom hunter to mentor you if you are able to do so. Oh and remember an old mushroom hunter can actually be much younger than you would think.

  • toreytorey Posts: 1,689 admin

    Speaking of mushroom coffee. Harmonic Arts (a Canadian herb compnay) is making a 5 mushroom-blend Hot Chocolate Mix. Absolutely delicious! It can be made on its own or added to coffee to make a mocha or add to a latte. I add 1/2 tsp cinnamon. I think there are other companies making similar products.

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 385 ✭✭✭

    This is great. I love mushrooms and there are many varieties which grow wild in my area. The only kind I have ever found that I can identify confidently is the bolete. Can't wait to go through the links and see what I can find and learn. I know there are classes offered but they are quite expensive, held about 100 miles from me and usually during the busiest time of year at my work.

    Thank you all for sharing your information, knowledge and access with those of us trying to learn more.

  • toreytorey Posts: 1,689 admin

    @vickeym Following is a link to MatchMaker Mushrooms. It is a downloadable, interactive program to help identify fungi. You don't need to be hooked up to the internet to use it once it is downloaded so it could be on a tablet that you can take out on mushroom excursions. You enter different criteria (color, shape, odour, growing medium, spore print, etc.) into the sections of the program and it comes up with the best possible matches. Really helps narrow down the search. Lots of good pictures. Focuses on mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest from northern California up to Alaska.


  • tomandcaratomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 592 ✭✭✭

    @vickeym The Matchmaker Mushrooms program @torey recommended is an incredible tool that I had not been aware of before yesterday. I downloaded and installed it this morning, Here is a copy of what it says when you click on the "for beginners":

    "(For an overview of all the basic features of MatchMaker, and some fun ideas and examples, please choose the Help menu item "MatchMaker Help" and click on "Quick Guide to MatchMaker Features")

    MatchMaker can be intimidating for beginners. There are over 2000 gilled species to choose from, and the descriptions are very detailed. There are ways of simplifying. 

    First, choose Short Descriptions on the Options menu. This will simplify the description of each species. The NOTES section always starts with a summary of the main features.

    Second, choose Show Common Species Only on the Options menu. This will reduce the many choices to about one tenth as many. It is easy to restore all of the species by choosing Show All Species from the Options menu.

    Some beginners are interested in mushrooms because they would like to eat them. While most mycologists (people who study fungi) enjoy eating mushrooms, the necessary knowledge cannot be taught by a book or a computer program. It has to be learned in the woods from experts. Start by joining a local mushroom club, or going on natural history outings with people who know the local mushrooms. Start with learning the ones that are relatively easy, such as chanterelles and hedgehogs. Make sure you learn the lookalikes, how to choose fresh ones, and how to keep them..

    Other beginners are interested in mushrooms because they are fascinated by the natural world. They may have used identification guides for birds or flowers to learn more about what they see in nature. Mushrooms are equally intriguing, but more difficult for two reasons:

    1) There are a lot of species in any area.

    2) Members of one species do not always resemble each other closely. This is one reason for having multiple illustrations of the same species in MatchMaker.

    The result is that mushroom identification can be frustrating at first. Here are some hints:

    1) Learn a few species and progress from there. Don't expect to identify everything you see. The experts don't either. Start with brightly colored ones, which are easier to identify.

    2) Go out into the woods with knowledgeable people. This is the best way to learn at first. Books and computer programs will make more sense after this.

    There are instructions on how to use MatchMaker for helping you identify a mushroom. These are available on the Help menu; choose Show Instructions. If you find the instructions too complicated at first, start by choosing only one or two characteristics. If for instance you have Amanita muscaria (the white-spotted red mushroom popular in story books), you could click Red and White on Cap color, then look through the pictures that come up of mushrooms with red and white colors in the cap.

    If you need help with the program, or advice about getting starting with mushrooms, email Ian Gibson at [email protected] Alas, he cannot identify mushrooms online: it is difficult enough in the woods."

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 385 ✭✭✭

    torey & tomandcara Thank you. It sounds like a great program. Can't wait to download and get a look at it. Thank you so much for all the help. I love how helpful this group is.

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 519 ✭✭✭✭

    @maimover Completely understandable!

  • Homestead HubbyHomestead Hubby Posts: 40 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the shares. These look like great resources.

  • jmachledtjmachledt Posts: 25 ✭✭✭

    Maybe there can be a training on mushroom identification sometime, Marjorie - that would be great!

Sign In or Register to comment.