Burke's Backyard

Mushrooms and toadstools

In the Garden > Gardening Tips, Books, Techniques and Tools

Mushrooms and toadstools

As a mycologist (a botanist with an expertise in fungi), Peter Valder is often asked how to tell the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool.

All can be broadly described as the fruiting body of a fungus.

As there are thousands of different sorts of mushrooms and toadstools, it is hard to easily distinguish one from the other. There are however several pointers that can be used to decide if a fungus is a mushroom and is edible.

The widely accepted methods of being able to easily peel the cap and noticing the colour turn to silver black are not reliable indicators that a mushroom is safe to eat.

As many mushrooms are highly poisonous Peter strongly recommends not eating a mushroom that you find in a field unless you can have it positively identified.

Characteristics of true mushrooms

Further reading

For a more detailed look at the difference between mushrooms and toadstools consult Common Australian Fungi - A Naturalist's Guide by Tony Young (UNSW Press, 1994, rrp $19.95). ISBN 0 86840 384 9.

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