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General Mushroom Rules

 
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I know what a puffball looks like and a morrell but are there any hard and fast rules of identifying dangerous (or safe mushrooms)? Not rules like the "I before E except after C" fiasco.

Thanks.
 
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Location: Otago, New Zealand
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rule 1. don't eat any shroom you can't absolutely positively identify yourself.

rule 2. don't trust any other rule

There are no hard and fast rules to prevent poisoning (or death) other than learning the species. All rules I've seen fail in some situations for beginners. This is especially important in an international context like the internet. What might work locally for someone might not apply anywhere else.

 
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There is a very good beginner's book called "Mushrooming Without Fear" that teaches you to gather just five safe species and identify those five beyond question. It's a good place to start.
 
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Location: CT zone 5b
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Heather Ward wrote:There is a very good beginner's book called "Mushrooming Without Fear" that teaches you to gather just five safe species and identify those five beyond question. It's a good place to start.



Interested in that book. The only mushroom I know how to identify is dryad's saddle, which I don't find very often and aren't great anyway. But I know I can ID it every time.
 
Heather Ward
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Will, I think it's the best book for beginners to start with but, unfortunately, not very useful in the Southwest because most of the five ultra safe mushrooms don't occur there. Everywhere else it's fine.
 
pollinator
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I'm not as knowledgeable about mushrooms as I am about wild greens. When I go hunting for mushrooms I like to bring my friend Cameron for support.
Here are two videos I made about morels and chanterelles:

and
 
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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I agree with the above. I studied mushrooms for ten years before I put one in my mouth. If I had a mentor that might have been quicker, but all I had were books. As a beginner, never rely on just one book, and I agree with the process of identifying a few reliable, distinctive edible species and make these the backbone of your foraging. Twenty years on, I now have about a dozen that I can put in the "keeper" basket with impunity. It's also good to bone up on all the deadly ones, and commit these to memory as they turn up.
Until they get a lot better than they are now, beware of "apps" and such like for wild mushrooms! A brief perusal of a couple of these led me to believe it would be far too easy to make a deadly mistake!
 
Heather Ward
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Alder, I'm suspicious of the apps too, especially when it comes to any brown gilled mushroom! Too many look-alikes to be remotely safe. If you want to forage mushrooms, accept that this is a very long-term study. I have always liked the saying "There are old mushroom hunters, and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old bold mushroom hunters..."
 
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