Mushroom Safety Guide

Mushrooms Safety

Firstly, toss out the myths about mushrooms as there isn’t one that is true.

  • some suggest that a poisonous one will either stain a silver spoon or turn garlic to black.
  • simply harvesting mushrooms eaten by animals.

Here are some basic rules to follow if you want to ensure that whatever you forage in the Northwest forests are indeed safe to ingest.

  • Never guess – Consequences of eating the poisonous mushrooms are as serious as liver damage and even death.
  • Be very keen – Toxic species tend to resemble edible types so you must be cautious even if you are familiar with mushrooms.

In North America, most cases of mushroom poisoning involve Death Cap, Deadly Cort, Deadly Lepiota, Deadly Galerina, and False Morel mushrooms. It is easy to confuse toxic false morels with the edible species while edible Chanterelle is easily mixed up with Jack O'Lantern Mushroom.

  • Consult the experts – If unsure, take the mushrooms collected to relevant activities for proper identification. Use a few field guides and practice to cross-reference.
  • You should also collect mushrooms in separate baskets with one for those that you are sure about and the other for those which seem confusing.
  • Watch out for your pets – Dogs often fall victim to poisonous mushrooms so be very watchful when you take your furry friend out wild edible mushrooms hunting in Northwest.


The only guarantee to safety is learning how to differentiate between toxic and wild edible mushroom. Learning how to tell mushrooms apart might take time but you can speed up the process by:

  • Joining a mushroom club in your area and attending workshops where you can familiarize with identifying features.
  • Field guides are an excellent resource for mushroom hunters in Oregon. They contain everything from picture to location and seasons that play a great role in helping both beginners and novices tell the difference between edible and poisonous species.
  • Consult experts in your locality to give you lessons on different types of wild edible mushroom.

Mushrooms Safety Tips

  • Never eat wild mushrooms raw
  • Eat only those mushrooms you are absolutely sure to be edible
  • The first time you sample species, eat a small quantity to observe your reaction
  • Keep unknown for you species in a different container to avoid contamination
  • Avoid collecting too large mushrooms
  • Collect only fresh mushrooms unaffected by larvae or worms

Tools and Equipment

  • Dress for the weather, the sturdy walking or hiking shoes is the best for sometimes the slippery, muddy, or rocky terrains.
  • A sharp knife or trowel to cut or dig up mushrooms.
  • A stick to examine the leaves covering the ground.
  • A basket or container to collect delicate fungi (avoid plastic bags).
  • A field guide with color pictures and descriptions for mushrooms identification.

If you are not familiar with fungi species yet, start from dense-fleshed and non-gilled mushrooms. The gilled mushrooms are the most difficult to identify.

Non-Gilled Mushrooms

These include fungi with pores, spines, ridges, and domed caps.


Mushroom Safety

This is a brick-red, brown, or black capped species with a variable colored bulbous stem. Boletes can be found in late summer and early in fall and have a smooth meaty texture with rich earthy flavor.


Mushroom Safety

Hedgehog is easy to identify by light-brown tooth-like spines and do not have any poisonous counterparts. These mushrooms are similar to chanterelle by its color and texture and can be sauteed or preserved.


Mushroom Safety

Chanterelle is recognizable by a distinct inverted umbrella shape and ridges as opposed to gills. The best-known Pacific Golden chanterelle has a rich fruity aroma that makes them excellent when sautéed.

Slippery Jack & Other Suillus

Slippery Jack - Suillus Luteus

The term "Slippery" applied to the mushroom's cap that is is slimy and sticky when moist. The slimy skin should be peeled off the cap before cooking to avoid gastric upset. Slippery Jack is good for pickling, preserving, or sautéing.

Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America: A Field-to-kitchen Guide

This field guide presents more than 100 species of the most delicious mushrooms, along with detailed information on how to find, gather, store, and cook. Over 70 recipes, ranging from soups and salads to casseroles, canapes, quiches, and even a dessert.

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The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms: Helpful Tips for Mushrooming in the Field.

This tiny companion is the perfect book to bring along when foraging for delectable fungi. Beautiful photographs adorn the pages with mushrooms in the wild as well as picked, showing them from a multitude of angles.

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National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms

More than 700 mushrooms detailed with color photographs and descriptive text.

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Disclaimer: This is not an official guide to wild mushroom foraging. Please do your own research before you pick up and consume any wild mushrooms. 

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