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A Warning

Many people get great pleasure out of collecting and eating wild mushrooms. Many of the tastiest species are quite distinctive in shape and color and can be collected and eaten without any risk and with great pleasure. However, some species of edible mushrooms are rather similar to species that are deadly poisonous. When collecting wild mushrooms as food, it is always best to err on the side of certainty of identification and safety. The identification of some types of mushrooms is difficult, and there are no hard-and-fast rules for separating poisonous from edible species. This is the reason why there are numerous stories about experienced mushroom collectors who were poisoned by eating a misidentified fungus. Therefore, if you are not certain about the identity of a particular wild mushroom, do not consume it. Eating a poisonous mushroom can quickly lead to liver failure and death.

See also Fungicide.



Atlas, R.M., and R. Bartha. Microbial Ecology. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin-Cummings Pub. Co., 1987.

Klein, R.M. The Green World. An Introduction to Plants and People. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.

Lincoff, G.H. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. New York: Chanticleer Press, 1981.

McKnight, K.H., and V.B. McKnight. A Field Guide to the Mushrooms of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1987.

Raven, Peter, R. F. Evert, and Susan Eichhorn. Biology of Plants. 6th ed. New York: Worth Publishers Inc., 1998.

Sharma, O.P. Textbook of Fungi. New York: McGraw Hill, 1989.

Bill Freedman


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Hypha (plural, hyphae)

—Cellular unit of a fungus, typically a branched and tubular filament. Many strands (hyphae) together are called mycelium.


—An intimate relationship between two or more organisms that is beneficial to both.


—This refers to thread or matlike aggregations of the fine fungal tissues known as hyphae.


—This refers to an organism that derives its energy by decomposing dead organic matter. Many species of mushroom-producing fungi live off the organic debris that is present in the mineral soil and, especially, the surface litter of leaves and woody debris on the forest floor.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Molecular distillation to My station and its duties:Mushrooms - Biology And Ecology Of Mushroom-producing Fungi, Mushrooms Of North America, Poisonous Mushrooms And Drugs