Fall mushrooms growing on the ground

Mushrooms fruiting in fall Mushrooms growing on logs Shelf like fungi Home

This large group of mushrooms is divided on this page into three groups

Mushrooms with gills under the cap

These mushrooms have an obvious stem and cap and under the cap there are blade-like gills which radiate from the stem. Sometimes the gills touch the stem, do not touch the stem, or run down the top part of the stem.

Mushrooms with pores or teeth under the cap

These mushrooms have a stem and an obvious cap and under the cap are sponge-like pores or pointed structures which look tooth-like.

Mushrooms that do not have an obvious cap

These mushrooms have a variety of odd shapes but all of them lack an obvious cap.  They may look like coral, or fingers, or lumpy odd shapes.

 

Mushrooms with gills under the cap

Click a picture to see the species account or scroll down

Chanterelle Scaly Chanterelle Red Russula Fly Amanita Parasol
Agaricus Questionable Stropharia Shaggy Mane Purple Laccaria Clustered Clitocybe

 

Golden Chanterelle  Cantharellus formosus

How to identify it: Yellow in color, cap edge often wavy.  The gills are blunt and widely spaced, often forked, and run down the  top third of the stem length.  The stalk is solid, not hollow. The mushroom has an odor of apricots.

This is the fall prize edible mushroom. The golden color of this fungus shows up nicely against the mossy forest floor.  If you find one look around as it often grows in groups.  The best places to look for this fungus are second growth Douglas fir forests which have little undergrowth underneath.  Because of the commercial picking of this species, it has become harder and harder to find which is a shame because its distinctive shape and color make it an easy edible mushroom for beginners.  This mushroom is rarely inflicted with insect larvae and in large fruiting seasons an afternoons walk can yield several meals worth.  Clean off needles and dirt with a soft pastry brush rather than washing them as they soak up water and fall apart in the sink.

Note: There are two similar yellow mushrooms below which could be mistaken for the Golden chanterelle. 

   

Scaly Chanterelle  Gomphus floccosus

How to identify it: Often yellow to golden in color,  usually strongly vase shaped, the cap is covered with scales, the blunt gills run down the upper part of the stem, often the

stems can be lighter colored than the cap. This is often found in Hemlock forests and its yellow color and blunt gills makes it look somewhat like a Golden chanterelle, but the scaly cap is distinctive.  This mushroom is not edible and contains compounds which make many people ill, and may actually cause liver damage if large amounts are eaten.
   
  False Chanterelle  Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca

How to identify it:  Golden color, thin stem with gills running a short distance down the stalk, stalk weak with hollow in the middle, thin cap, often with inrolled edges when young.

This mushroom can be mistaken for the Golden Chanterelle but it has many fine gills whereas the Golden chanterelle's gills are blunt and large and  run well down the stem. The stem of this mushroom is very thin compared to the stocky stem of the Golden chanterelle.  It is mildly poisonous.

   

Red Russula  Russula sanguinea and others

How to identify them: Bright red cap, white gills and stems.  The stems break cleanly like a piece of chalk.

This is one of a large family of mushrooms called Russulas which are common in most conifer forests.  The Red russulas stand out from the mossy carpet with their bright to dull red caps, some have a pinkish hue.  They are often a favorite food of slugs, and so most of them will have nibbles out of the edge of the cap. One of these is called the Emetic Russula and is very hot peppery, perhaps an adaptation to keep the gnawers at bay.  I once watched a grouse rip apart a large Russula and I was curious what the bird had against the mushroom. Upon examination of several of them I found some large insect larva, no doubt the reason why the bird took apart the mushroom.

 

 

Fly Amanita  Amanita muscaria

How to identify it:  Red cap with distinctive white spots, white stem with a cup at the base.

This is one of the most recognized mushrooms in the world, often found in children's books and used as the standard illustration for a mushroom.  Sometimes the caps are yellow instead of red, but still have the same white spots. This mushroom sometimes pops up as early as June but most often is found once the fall rains begin in October.  This is called the Fly Amanita because it Europe dried pieces are placed in a bowl of milk and flies are attracted to the mixture which they sip and then later die.  This group, the Amanitas, contain some of the most deadly mushroom toxins and should never be eaten.  Almost all the Amanitas can be identified by the cup at the base of the stem, although sometimes this cup is buried a little ways under the soil. 

   

 

Shaggy Parasol  Lepiota rachodes

How to identify it:  Tan-brown mushroom with the cap densely covered with soft brown scales.  When the stem or cap is cut or bruised the flesh of the gills and cap turns orangish.

This mushroom grows in troops under Hemlocks and other conifers, and also in compost piles and in clippings and other mulch.  Fruiting starts in September and often goes through November.  It can reach more than 5 inches across the cap and when fresh this mushroom can be eaten by MOST people.  There are some people who get stomach upset from this mushroom and so it is wise to only eat a little on your first try.   It is best to cook it over high heat in an open pan as this allows the chemical which creates the stomach upset to evaporate.  Note: There is a very similar looking mushroom, the Green-spored Parasol found in California which is poisonous, so although this mushroom does not grow in our region, be careful if you are picking down south. 

   

 

Agaricus  Agaricus species

How to identify them: Tan, buff to white cap with pinkish gills when young, turning dark brown with age.  Obvious gill veil which turns into a noticeable ring on the stalk.

There are many species of this group, some of which are choice edibles, others will make you loose your lunch.  The common edible mushroom found in grocery stores is in this genus.  The various kinds grow in lawns, pastures, and forests, and some form large troops.  One of the best edibles is Agaricus augustus, called the Prince.  Before trying to sort out and eat any mushroom in this group be sure to consult a detailed mushroom guide and seek expert advice, there are many poisonous look a likes which grow in the same habitats as the edible ones. 

   

Questionable Stropharia  Stropharia ambigua

How to identify it: Fuzzy cottony edges to the yellow cap, which fades to brown as it ages, white stalk with soft cottony scales.

The name of this mushroom is puzzling as their is nothing ambiguous about it, the odd fuzzy cap edges are distinctive.  This mushroom begins to appear in mixed forests as early as July and it is very sticky to the touch, so much so that often the cap can be covered with an assortment of needles and debris.  The stem is covered with a fluffy scale and often if you look closely you will find slug tooth marks where they have eaten the scale.  

   

 

Shaggy Mane  Coprinus comatus

How to identify it: Tall, bullet-like shaped cap covered with scales, often black at the bottom, the gills are black.

This genus of mushrooms are known as inky caps because they decompose into an inky black gooey mess.  This mushroom grows easily in compacted soils of lawns, along trail and road edges.  As it ages, it turns inky black from the  bottom up, and if you place a large specimen into a jar it will turn into black goo, which you can use as a weak ink.  They are short-lived fruits, and may only last 2-3 days before turning black.  They are considered a choice edible, even though they tend to turn other food they are cooked with dark to black.  They start fruiting in late August and can be found until the first frosts of late October or November.  I once found a group of these along the edge of a paved trail and to my astonishment the delicate fruits had actually poked through the asphalt of the trail.

   
Inky Cap  Coprinus atramentera

How to identify it:  Often grouped in a cluster, the gills turn black as they age.

This is a common mushroom found in gardens, grassy edges and sides of trails.  They often grow in tight clusters with a bullet-like shape to the cap before it fully opens. The gills decay into black mush, often leaving behind just the stems with a bit of cap structure attached and a black stain on the ground.  This mushroom contains coprine which causes violent illness when consumed with alcoholic beverages.

   

 

Western Purple Laccaria  Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis

How to identify it: Purple gills, cap and stem, the stem has scruffy vertical lines.

This mushroom often grows in small clusters and when fresh, its purple color stands out against the background.  As it ages it turns a dull brown and then often becomes lumped with the rest of the little brown mushrooms.  

   

 

Clustered Clitocybe   Clitocybe dealbata

How to identify it:  Stout white mushroom, growing in tight clusters, the edge of the cap is irregular.

This is a mushroom which is often found along the edges of compacted soils such as along trails and forest roads.  It grows in tight little groups and its bright white shows up from considerable distance. 

   

Mushrooms with pores or teeth under the cap

King Bolete  Boletus edulis

How to identify It:  Cap light brown to tan, smooth; thick stem, often wide at the base, upper part of stem covered with a fine netlike pattern. Pores white then yellow, staining darker yellow when bruised, not staining blue.

This is one of the choicest of edible mushrooms although it gets infested with larvae as it ages.  The buttons are best.  It appears first in August, often a few days after a summer thundershower and continues to fruit through the month of October.  It is typically found in conifer woods, often in association with spruce but can be found in other forest types as well 

The netlike reticulation on the stem which is characteristic of this fungus is very fragile and easily rubbed off.  It is often found on the upper third of the stem, but sometimes limited to just under the cap.
   

 

Zellars Bolete   Boletus zelleri

How to identify it: Cap smooth, reddish brown, pores yellow, sometimes staining blue when cut.  Stem a rhubarb red.

This is a common mushroom in conifer forests, fruiting from September through November.  It grows on the ground and can form small troops of a half dozen or so in an area.  It is very similar to the Admirable Bolete, Boletus mirablis, which has a plush-like texture to its cap and typically grows from buried rotting wood.  Both are edible and both tend to be quickly infested with insect larvae especially in the stem.  Another reddish stemmed Bolete is the Yellow-fleshed bolete, Boletus chrysentreron which has a tan to reddish tinged cap which is has many cracks as it expands. This bolete, while found in the woods,  can also be found in more open habitats such as flower beds, or lawns.  It too is edible. 

   

Spiny Hedgehog  Sarcodon imbricatum

How to identify it:  Scaly brown cap, the underside of the cap has spine-like teeth.

This toothed mushroom is distinctive with its scales and teeth.  It is found in conifer woods, usually 3-4 clustered together but sometimes single.  Although some people eat this mushroom, it can cause upset in others although it does make a lovely blue and bluish-green dye. 

   

Spreading Hedgehog  Hydnum repandum

How to Identify it:  Yellowish-orange-tan cap, thick stem, spines under cap.

This is one of the latest fruiting mushrooms and can be found well after the freezes of December.  It is a choice edible, and like Chanterelles, rarely seems to be infested with insect larvae.  It is most often found in conifer forests, sometimes fruiting in great abundance.

 

 

Mushrooms without an obvious cap

 

Puffballs

How to identify them:  Puffballs are often round, or egg shaped, white to tan when fresh, turning brown as they mature.

This is a favorite of many children who learn that the ripe fruit releases a satisfying puff of brown smoke when prodded.  The smoke of course is thousands of spores.   Puffballs often grow in tight clusters,  in woods, along packed soils or even in grass.   There are several kinds and edibility varies so be sure to check a mushroom reference before trying them. 

   

 

Earthstar  Geastrum saccatum

How to identify it:  Star like appendages, often curled under with a puffball-like spore producing body in the center.

These odd mushrooms resemble cookies, laying scattered on the dark forest floor.  Like the puffball, when ripe, the center sac gives off a puff of spores when poked.  

   

 

Coral mushrooms

How to identify them:  Unique branching coral-like structure

These odd fungi, which look like ocean coral sprouting from the forest floor come in a variety of colors, white, yellow, and reds.  They are found in all kinds of forests although most are under conifers. Several species grow in abundant troops and they can be found starting in the  Summer and lasting well past the winter freezes.  A few of them are edible but there are many similar species, some of which are not edible,  so if you are collecting for the table be sure to check with a detailed reference. 

   

 

Cauliflower mushroom  Sparassis crispa

How to identify it: A creamy to beige white mass of undulating noodle-like structures.  Large specimens can be the size of half a basketball.

This unique mushroom looks like a mass of egg noodles dumped on the forest floor. It has a pleasant smell and comes off a solid stalk.  It is edible although it requires considerable cooking to soften and can be a pain to clean if it is full of dirt.  If you harvest it, use a knife to cut off the base, as a cut Cauliflower will continue to sprout more fruitings.  It can be a very regular appearing mushroom, showing up in the same location, year after year. 

   

  

Club fungi

How to identify them:  Finger-like or Club-like fruiting bodies.

These earth fingers are often small and delicate but many have bright yellow or even purple colors.   Some species can be abundant in a given area, covering the  forest floor with their hair-like fruit.