Edible mushrooms

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One of life’s greatest pleasures is the picking, cooking and eating of mushrooms. Nothing can taste better than freshly picked and cooked mushrooms. But therein lies the problem – because the shape, colour and overall look of a mushroom can change drastically during its fruiting lifecycle, an edible mushroom can often be quite difficult to differentiate from an inedible or even toxic mushroom.

There is really only one solution to ensuring that your collection is edible and that is to ask an expert to check it plus follow our mushrooming guidelines.

Common edible mushrooms

Following is a list of some of the most common edible mushrooms around. Recommended reading is Roger Phillips’ book, Mushrooms, published by Macmillan.

Bay bolete Boletus badius

Bay bolete Boletus badius © Wildfood UK

Very common in all types of woodland from deciduous to coniferous in Autumn.

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Cep Boletus edulis

Cep/Penny bun Boletus edulis © Wildfood UK

One of the most important edible mushrooms because of its size and excellent flavour – it is very common in all types of woodland from deciduous to coniferous in late Autumn.

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Chanterelle Cantharellus cibarius

Chanterelle Cantharellus cibarius
 © Wildfood UK

Very common in all types of woodland from deciduous to coniferous from Summer to late Autumn.

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Chicken-of-the-woods Laetiporus sulphurous

Chicken-of-the-woods Laetiporus sulphurous © PJeganathan

Found on deciduous trees, more frequently oak, from late Spring to Autumn. Edible when young and fresh.

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Fairy-ring mushroom Marasmius oreades

Fairy-ring mushroom Marasmius oreades © Wildfood UK

Commonly found forming rings on short grass in Autumn – DO NOT CONFUSE WITH THE DEADLY Fool’s funnel Clitocybe rivulosa, which also forms rings in grass during the same period of time.

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Field blewit Lepista saeva

Field blewit Lepista saeva © Paffka

With their purplish stalks you can find them from Autumn to early Winter often found growing in rings in pastureland. Don’t confuse with the lilac- gilled Wood blewit Lepista nuda – poisonous raw.

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Field mushroom Agaricus campestris

Field mushroom Agaricus campestris
 © Jennifer Hope-Morley

One of the most common of all mushrooms it is found in fields from late Summer to Autumn.

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Giant puffball Langermannia gigantean

Giant puffball Langermannia gigantean © Wildfood UK

Common in gardens, fields and woods from Summer to Autumn. Edible when white and firm.

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Morel Morchella esculenta/vulgaris

Morel Morchella esculenta/vulgaris © Gzirk

Not very common but found on waste ground or in woodland, especially in areas of chalky soil in late Spring.

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Oyster mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus

Oyster mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus © Wildfood UK

Found all year round in clumps on beech tree stumps and other fallen deciduous trees.

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Parasol mushroom Lepiota procera

Parasol mushroom Lepiota/Macrolepiota procera © Ita McCobb

Found in open woods and pastureland in Summer and Autumn.

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Saint George’s mushroom Calocybe gambosa

Saint George’s mushroom Calocybe gambosa © Wildfood UK

Traditionally found on St George’s Day (23 April), although they may not be ready to pick for a week or two.

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Shaggy inkcap Coprinus comatus

Shaggy inkcap Coprinus comatus © Ita McCobb

Very common mushroom found on lawns, recently disturbed ground, roadsides and rubbish heaps from late Summer to Autumn. Good to eat when the gills are white.

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Truffle species Tuber

Périgord black truffle Tuber melanosporum © Jennifer Hope-Morley 

Considered a great delicacy because of their rarity and excellent taste, they can be found buried (generally in chalky soils) under or near beech or oak trees from Summer to Autumn.

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Wood blewit Lepista nuda

Wood blewit Lepista nuda
 © Jörg Hempel

Very common in woodland, hedgerows and gardens from Autumn to Winter.

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Wood cauliflower Sparassis crispa

Wood cauliflower Sparassis crispa © Mushroom Observer

Common among conifer trees in Autumn. Edible when young but clean them thoroughly.

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Wood hedgehog Hydnum repandum

Wood hedgehog Hydnum repandum
 © Wildfood UK

Found in all types of woodland from deciduous to coniferous from late Summer to late Autumn.

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References: Mushrooms, Roger Phillips, MacMillan; Wildfood UK; Mushroom Observer.