Let’s discuss poisonous lawn mushroom types, and which lawn mushrooms are poisonous, deadly, or toxic! Because there is a lot of concern about finding poisonous mushroom types in our backyard. Many homesteaders avoid foraging for lawn mushrooms because they are overwrought with the worry that the mushrooms will be toxic.
We can’t blame them! We think foraging for mushrooms should only occur if you’re an expert at fungi identification.
However, we still advise learning about the four broad mushroom categories:
Some mushrooms can fall into more than one category, but all mushrooms belong to at least one category. For example, a psychedelic mushroom may also be edible for you to digest, but these mushrooms are also considered toxic and dangerous.
Some mushrooms are overly woody and cannot get consumed by humans. And not because of toxicity levels! But because they are not digestible whatsoever. Most mushrooms can get eaten. And some will leave you with toxins that make you feel ill.
Few mushrooms can be fatal. But if you forage a poisonous mushroom, the results can be deadly. So, you must be careful when foraging mushrooms. One basket of mushrooms you source for free in your backyard forest sounds excellent until you discover these can kill your entire family!
Cooking poisonous mushrooms does not reduce the effect, either. In some instances, heat may intensify the toxicity levels.
In the following section, we’ll discuss edible and non-edible mushroom varieties in further detail.
Plus – how to identify a few of the key players.
Then let’s continue!
- How to Identify Poisonous Lawn Mushroom Types
- Tips for Identifying Poisonous and Non-Poisonous Mushrooms
- Edible Lawn Mushrooms
- List of Edible Lawn Mushrooms
- 1. Morel Mushrooms (Morchella)
- 2. Shaggy Mane or Inky Caps (Coprinus comatus)
- 3. Chicken of the Woods Mushroom or Sulphur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus)
- 4. Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea)
- 5. Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)
- 6. Portobello Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)
- 7. Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinula edodes)
- What are Button, Cremini, and Portobello Mushrooms?
- List of Toxic and Poisonous Lawn Mushroom Types
- Why Should I Forage for Edible Lawn Mushrooms
- How to Keep Pets and Family Safe From Poisonous Lawn Mushrooms
How to Identify Poisonous Lawn Mushroom Types
One of the easiest ways to determine if a lawn mushroom is toxic is by looking at its name. Mushrooms like Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), Destroying Angel (Amanita bisporigera), and False Parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites) are easy to consider poisonous – just by the sound of the name.
Button mushrooms and Chaga mushrooms aren’t as terrifying in nomenclature. But – knowing popular mushroom names isn’t enough to determine if they’re poisonous. Or not!
When looking at mushrooms in the wild, there are also ways to identify what a poisonous mushroom is just by sight.
Avoid Red Caps and White Gills
According to Wild Food UK, if a mushroom has a red cap or white gills, avoid these due to toxicity concerns. The identifying factors of poisonous mushrooms are bright or milky colorations that would attract would-be predators.
A great example of a milky-colored mushroom is, not surprisingly, called a Milkcap or Lactarius quietus. This type of poisonous mushroom lactates a milky substance from the gills.
Otherwise, the field is pretty wide open regarding what constitutes a poisonous versus non-poisonous mushroom.
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Tips for Identifying Poisonous and Non-Poisonous Mushrooms
Here are some of our favorite ways to identify a mushroom based on its toxicity using a few tricks by professional mycologists, which are mushroom experts.
1. Pick the Mushroom.
First things first! You will not die from touching mushrooms even if you pick poisonous lawn mushroom types. (Mind you, there is one variety you should never contact with your skin. This toxic mushroom comes from Asia. More on this deadly fungus below.)
The toxins are generally in the cap, gills, or stem if it is a poisonous mushroom. You have to eat mushrooms or drink mushroom tea to ingest these toxins. Safely store the mushroom in a plastic or glass container with a removable lid until you get to a place where you can research and investigate the fungus.
(If you want to be doubly safe, you can wear gloves when harvesting the mushrooms. No worries!)
2. Take a Spore Print.
- Dissect the stem away from the cap. Don’t harm the gills that contain spores. These are important for conducting a spore print.
- Turn the mushroom cap over so the gills face a sheet of paper. Press the cap gently to make firm contact with the entire mushroom cap on the paper sheet.
- Adding a tiny drop of water onto the mushroom cap can help expedite the spore release.
- Allow the mushroom cap to sit on the paper without moving for two to 24 hours.
- Cover with a clear glass jar and monitor the cap during this time. The lid is a perfect viewing screen and a protective barrier from light, air, and heat.
- Covering the mushroom cap allows the spores to be released from the gills and deposited onto the paper.
A spore print is a way to help identify a mushroom based on the color of the mushroom print.
One of the most popular poisonous mushrooms, poison parasol, has a famously-green spore print. But your mushroom spore print might be anything from purple, red, gray, or brown.
Spore prints aren’t fool-proof to tell if a mushroom is toxic. However, it’s one more feature to help positively identify a mushroom.
(The mushroom spore print results added to the mushroom’s appearance can give you a decent indication of the mushroom variety.)
Edible Lawn Mushrooms
There are many lawn mushrooms that you can eat safely and regularly. One tremendously common type of lawn mushroom worldwide is the Fairy Ring Mushroom. Fairy ring champignons or Marasmius oreades look like tiny brown caps on long stems.
The Fairy Ring Mushroom (Marasmius oreades)
While you can eat Fairy Ring Mushrooms, since they are tremendously common, they also appear like several other lawn mushrooms.
Unfortunately, many Fairy Ring Mushroom lookalikes, including Clitocybe dealbata (or Sweating Mushroom) and the Deadly Dapperling (Lepiota brunneoincarnata), are poisonous to humans but look a lot like Fairy Ring Mushrooms.
Therefore, it is vital to identify Fairy Ring Mushrooms before eating them. (Along with all mushrooms!)
The Fairy Ring type of small lawn mushroom is edible and grows in rings or circles, which are fittingly called fairy rings.
Another edible mushroom in our backyards is the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus). Articles by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center report that Chaga mushrooms, also called Birch Conk, may offer potential medical benefits.
Chaga mushrooms are popular in integrative medicine for helping to reduce inflammation and increase immunity. Chaga mushrooms are also technically tree parasites. Teas made from Chaga mushrooms are famous for preventative healthcare and holistic treatments.
To identify this mushroom, look on tree bark for a large clump of dark fungus. Chaga mushrooms are cut down from the side of trees and can get boiled to make tea. Otherwise, Chaga mushrooms are too bitter to eat on their own.
List of Edible Lawn Mushrooms
Several types of lawn mushrooms are safe to eat. Edible mushrooms you forage for around your property can become yummy food sources. Start by looking for the most popular, edible lawn mushrooms, such as the following.
1. Morel Mushrooms (Morchella)
Here’s a delicious culinary woodland mushroom that’s safe to eat. Morel mushrooms – or Morchella esculentoides. These spring mushrooms appear after adequate rainfall. Be wary if you develop a taste for Morel mushrooms. They have an evil twin named False Morel, which is poisonous.
2. Shaggy Mane or Inky Caps (Coprinus comatus)
Here’s Shaggy Mane, aka Shaggy Ink Cap, Lawyer’s Wig, Inky Caps, or Coprinus comatus. You might find Shaggy Mane growing where you least expect them – along roadsides, in your backyard, or on badly beaten paths. Most reliable sources we find say that Shaggy Mane mushrooms are edible.
3. Chicken of the Woods Mushroom or Sulphur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Here you see Chicken of the Woods mushrooms or Sulphur Shelf. (Also called Laetiporus sulphureus.) These are one of the best-tasting mushrooms you’ll find. We also read from the University of Florida Extension that Chicken of the Woods mushrooms can get used as a dye to color wool or food.
4. Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea)
Another lovely backyard mushroom! The Giant Puffball or Calvatia gigantea. We’ve never tasted them, but we’ve read from many reliable sources that immature Giant Puffballs are edible.
If you harvest a Giant Puffball mushroom, ensure the center has a white texture. An article on the Utah State University Intermountain Herbarium website says to avoid eating Giant Puffballs with black, yellow, purple, or brown interiors.
5. Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)
There are a handful of yummy and delicious button mushrooms worth discussing. We’ll also detail one of our favorites in further detail.
- Button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)
- Creminis (Agaricus bisporus)
- Portobellos (Agaricus bisporus)
6. Portobello Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)
Check out our favorite edible mushroom for pizza toppings and spaghetti sauce. Portobello mushrooms – also known as Agaricus bisporus. Do you have fresh portobello mushrooms for eating? Then here’s a fun portobello mushroom pizza recipe from Rush University Medical Center. It looks delicious. And easy to make!
7. Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinula edodes)
Here’s one of our favorite meadow mushrooms that you may find growing alongside an oak tree. The Shiitake mushroom! They’re one of the tastiest edible varieties in this mushroom guide. Shiitake mushrooms are usually light to dark brown.
Unfortunately, North Americans won’t find them in their lawns as they grow natively in Asia. However, they’re one of the most popular culinary mushrooms in the US and get cultivated stateside. (Here’s a guide on how to grow Shiitake mushrooms.)
Homesteaders in Asia may find them growing near woody material, tree stumps, or tree roots. Some homesteaders and mushroom foragers may refer to Shiitake mushrooms as Japanese forest mushrooms.
What are Button, Cremini, and Portobello Mushrooms?
By the way, three of the most common edible mushrooms on this list are surprisingly easy to find at your local supermarket. These include button mushrooms, creminis, and portobellos. But did you know these three types of mushrooms sold in packages are also the same mushroom?
- The button mushroom is the tiniest of the group.
- Cremini mushrooms are button mushrooms with aging and maturity.
- A portobello mushroom is a fully grown cremini and a button mushroom all at the same time.
You can harvest these in your backyard for free! Or pick these three mushrooms up at any local grocery store or farmer’s market. If you are new to eating mushrooms, consider trying button, cremini, and portobello, both raw and cooked. Trying a flavorful variety will help you get a better taste for the most common mushrooms, and it will help you identify this mushroom species by smell, touch, sight, and taste.
List of Toxic and Poisonous Lawn Mushroom Types
Here are the mushrooms you should never eat!
Even more concerning are the types of lawn mushrooms that are poisonous. After all, if you are eating lawn mushrooms, the last thing you want is to die from a dinner of wild mushroom stroganoff. Even for grizzled foragers, mushrooms all look relatively the same, and there is no standard for saying if mushrooms are poisonous or not.
The best chance you have at foraging safe lawn mushrooms is to know what the toxic lawn mushroom types are for easier identification. That way, you can rule out these poisonous mushrooms as soon as you see them.
Here is a list of poisonous lawn mushroom types unfit for human consumption.
- Angel wing (Pleurocybella porrigens)
- Elfin saddle (Gyromitra infula)
- False parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites)
- Fly agaric (Amanita mascaria)
- Jack O’lantern (Omphalotus illudens)
- Lilac bonnet (Mycena pura)
- Satan’s bolete (Rubroboletus eastwoodiae, Rubroboletus satanas)
- Sulfur tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare)
- Yellow stainer (Agaricus xanthodermus)
As you can see by the names, these mushrooms sound scary. However, these names don’t sound deadly. Eating mushrooms like fly agaric and lilac bonnet will make you sick but not fatally ill.
On the other hand, the following poisonous lawn mushrooms are sure to cause organ failure or death due to fatal toxicity.
- Deadly galerina or autumn skullcap (Galerina marginata)
- Brain mushroom or false morel (Gyromitra esculenta)
- Conocybe filaris (Conocybe filaris)
- Deadly dapperling (Lepiota brunneoincarnata)
- Deadly webcap and fool’s webcap (C. Orellanus, Cortinarius rubellus)
- Death cap (Amanita phalloides)
- Destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera)
- Ivory funnel (Clitocybe dealbata)
Again, take a look at these mushroom names. At least four of these mushrooms contain the words deadly or death. That alone will tell you to avoid these poisonous lawn mushroom types like the plague! Or else you face death. Regarding scientific names, most foraging experts consider the Amanita mushrooms poisonous.
Why Should I Forage for Edible Lawn Mushrooms
The majority of lawn mushrooms are non-poisonous and considered safe to eat. Edible lawn mushrooms will not cause any digestive complaints. They are safe, either raw or cooked. Mushrooms naturally contain high levels of vitamin D and are one of the only foods to do so. They absorb sunlight and convert it into vitamin D.
Mushrooms are highly prized among vegetarians and vegans during winter as a natural way to increase this depleted nutrient. Mushrooms are also high in protein and offer a meaty replacement for ground or minced meats.
As a result, adding edible lawn mushrooms to your home-cooked foods is a borderline-genius way to bulk up both flavor and nutrients in your family’s diet.
How to Keep Pets and Family Safe From Poisonous Lawn Mushrooms
When it comes to wildly growing mushrooms in your backyard, there are concerns about keeping pets and kids safe.
If you have small children, dogs, or cats roaming around your garden area, they may try to eat mushrooms in the grass or on trees.
Keep children and pets away from areas that are prone to grow mushrooms. While touching mushrooms may not kill your kids or pets, eating poisonous mushrooms may.
However, we know of at least one mushroom found in Asia that is dangerous to touch. Therefore, while it is advised not to touch mushrooms randomly due to skin irritation, chances are you will not have any problems – in most cases.
Mainly, the only way a poisonous mushroom is toxic to humans is through ingesting the fungus. Digestive issues are the most common problem associated with eating toxic backyard mushrooms, followed by organ failure of the kidneys or liver.
How to Eradicate Poisonous Mushroom Types In Your Lawn and Yard
To protect your household from poisonous lawn mushroom types, start by identifying the mushroom type. Mushroom identification will help you best remove the fungus from the area as you can note where new mushrooms are growing.
The first course of treatment is using a fungicide which will kill any fungus in the target zone. You can also dig up any spores and roots surrounding a mushroom patch.
To remove all poisonous mushroom spores, dig out any soil and organic material from the area. Use an aeration tool to turn over dirt and provide oxygen to the garden or yard soil.
Aeration can help kill off any spores trying to take hold.
Mushroom Identification Help
If you see signs that your child or pet has eaten poisonous mushrooms, call 911 immediately. There may be little you can do, and time is the only hope of saving their life. If you have potentially poisonous mushrooms growing wild in your garden or landscape, call the poison control center in your state.
For example, the California Poison Control Center is 1-800-222-1222. The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms is an excellent visual resource for identifying poisonous lawn mushroom types you could see in your garden. Mycological societies, such as the Cascade Mycological Society, are also handy for helping you identify those potentially poisonous mushrooms in your backyard.
We’re wrapping up our poisonous lawn mushroom guide with one more final word of warning.
We love mushroom foraging, spending time outdoors, and picking wild fungi.
But – we don’t want to give our homesteading friends false confidence when identifying mushrooms. Mushroom identification is tricky!
Always double-check with a local fungi foraging expert if you’re not 100% sure when identifying mushrooms.
One mistake could potentially cost you your life or make you violently ill. It’s not worth the risk!
(There are stories all over the web of mushroom foraging going wrong. So we urge caution. Always.)
However, we hope our mushroom identification tricks and guide to poisonous lawn mushroom types serve you well.
If you have tips for mushroom identification that we missed, or if you have any fun mushroom foraging experiences, please share them with us!
Thanks again for reading.
And happy mushroom foraging!