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Coming to Terms

You may hear mushroom hunters use different terminolgy for identifying mushrooms, and you may not know the meanings.
This page is designed to help you with learning mushroom terms to help in identifying mushrooms.  While not all inclusive, it does cover the bulk of terms most often used.

Special thanks to Mike and others for their efforts in putting these together for us.  Thanks guys.

Just click on the letter the term begins with.

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Aborted:  A mushroom deformed or mutated by the growth of and or contact of a different mycelium.
Agarics:  A family of large edible and poisonous mushrooms that need close macro and micro observations, (macro-full description of the up rooted mushroom, the stems, the gills, pores, caps, color etc. Micro-being a spore print).
Amanita:  A very toxic mushroom, that is best to learn to recognize and then to avoid in the future.
Armillariella mella: The Latin name for the Honey mushroom or Stumpy.
Attached gills: where the gills of the mushroom (the underside of the cap) is attached or slightly descending the stalk.
Azzholus woodlandi:  Slang term for those who do not respect the woods or other hunters.


Badgering:  The digging or removal of leaves, forest debris to find small underdeveloped mushrooms, not recommended as this destroy mycelium growth, or the tearing of mushroom from the ground, not cutting or pinching them off.
Boletus or Oblate:  A fleshy mushroom, that looks as if it was run under a sewing machine, pores instead of gills, like the pores on your face when you look in the mirror.
Bruising:  The color transformation, when the mushroom is cut loose from it's growth.  Like the knife scar that turns from the yellow you cut it, to a deep blue.
Buff:  A moderate to darker shade color of yellow, that may have an orange like hue.
Button:  The immature newly emerging mushroom from the ground or from a tree growth. Can be right at ground level or on a stem 2 to 3 inches off the ground.


Cap:  The fleshy head of the mushroom, the top of the mushroom. Much needed in the first identification by sight.
 Terminology to describe the stem growing from a cuplike structure, at the base of the mushroom, usually associated with the Amanita family.  A key identification factor.
Chanterelle:  The Cantharellus family. A highly sought after mushroom, better left alone until you have more knowledge of mushrooms, which are the next level up from the first safe ones you learn.
Chicken of the woods:  Sulfur shelf, wood orange, (Laetiporus sulphureus), a true beginners mushroom.
Clitocybe:  A large complex family of mushrooms, best left to advanced hunters.
Clump:  Equals a small grouping of mushrooms usually not exceeding 3 to 8 mushrooms, but spaced apart or a few joined at the base.
Cluster:  A large grouping of mushrooms, that grow from a centralized root or stem, like all of them come from one original growth, a main root.
Color variation:  The range of colors that the cap can show.
Concentric:  Having a centralized meeting place, usually of equal length from the centering point.
Crowded gills:  A gilled mushroom, that has very tightly packed and numerous gill folds, sometimes wavy in appearance, until the cap, is fully extended.


Death cap:  No need to explain, name says it all, the Amanita family's deadliest member.
Descending gills:  A mushroom where the gills run down the stem from the underside of the mushroom's cap.
Destroying angel:  The death cap's evil sister, just as deadly.  Leave them alone unless to make a spore print, for future reference.


Earthstar:  An odd looking mushroom, when opened or "fruited", appears to be a star patterned with a centralized ball in the middle usually.
Easy pickings:  No such thing to a veteran mushroom hunter, that wishes to stay healthy.
Egg (of the fungus fruiting body):  Button stages enclosed by a universal veil, as in a stinkhorn or Amanita.
Elevated (of the margin of a cap):  Raised slightly to extend above the disc of the cap.
Emergent mycelium:  When the root likes structure of the mushroom growth breaks the plane of the earth or the preferred growing medium.  Visible to the naked eye.
Endemic:  Specifically grows only around certain terrain locations or other life's form (trees, etc.).
Enotake:  A commercially grown version of the Velvet Foot (Flammulina velutipes), forced raised in darkness to give an appealing (to some) appearance.  Looks nothing likes the wild form.


Fairy ring:  A growth of mushrooms that forms a concentric circle, or an arc, that can be of very short distance to many yards apart.
False:  A mushroom term that means a close look alike mushroom that can be poisonous.
Fanned:  A term given to mushrooms that have foldable hand fan appearance, when opened, like the turkey tails some parchments etc., usually referring to members of the polypore family.
Flush:  A term used to describe when mushrooms are at the picking stage.
Free gills:  A term used to describe that the gills (underside of the cap) are not attached to the stem.
Fresh:  A debatable term used by mushroom hunters, to describe the new growth of mushrooms.
Fruiting:  A term used to say when mushrooms are beginning to develop in the immature stage. Above the growing medium, such as earth, mulch, tree, etc.
Flush:  A new crop of mushrooms.
Fungi:   Describe the complex mushroom world, from the lowly molds to the choicest edibles.



Galerina autumnalis:  A different way to spell death in Latin. A deadly poisonous, semi small brown mushroom, that grows on rotted wood.  Can be mistaken for the Honey or Stumper mushroom.
Gill:  The underside of some mushroom caps, which look like the bottom of a portabella's cap, thin, long ribs.
Gym:  A species of hallucinogenic mushrooms that grow on rotted wood that also has some very poisonous look a likes.


Half free:  An edible morel, (morchella semilibra), but can be confused with the poisonous Verpa, a close look-a-like.
Helvella:  A true false morel.  A species of mushroom confused with the morel.
Hen of the woods:  A popular mushroom due to its safe and easy identification characteristics and it's good flavor. Latin name is Grifola frondosa.
Honey mushroom (Armillariella mellea):  Also know as the stumper or stumpy.  Better left to be identified by someone that knows them.  Not for the beginner.  (See Galerina, above.)


Inky caps:  A mushroom best described as the shaggy mane or alcohol inky (Coprinus comatus and Coprinus atramentatius).  The shaggy is considered a safe edible mushroom, as it's identifying characteristics are almost unique.
In rolled margin:  Describe, the underside of the cap, as the cap expands outward, the actual lip of the caps rim, rolls under at the edge of the gills.


Jack-o'-lantern (Omphalotus olearius):  A very poisonous mushroom that grows on wood.  It is sometimes confused with the chanterelle.
Jacks:   A term used to describe certain species of boletus, see the letter "S", under slippery.
Jills:  See above comments on Jacks.
Jugged mushroom:  Pickled mushrooms.


Kinfinanuthin:  What you say when you leave the forest empty handed.
KOH ( Caustic Potash solution):  Used to help identify some mushrooms spores in a laboratory setting.


Larvae growth:  When you are too late, and the mushroom is infected with the little white maggots.
Latent smell:  The smell after you cut the mushroom loose, used to identify Amanita's, which have a rank smell after being cut loose from the base. Oyster mushroom smell like anise. Etc.
Layered growth:  Describes the growth of shelf like mushrooms, that grow on wood like oysters, chickens and other polypores.
Latex:  The milky white ooze that comes from slicing the gills of the lactaria or related species of mushrooms.
Lepiota's:  A complex form of mushrooms, best left for secondary hunting, after mastering the easy ones.
Leveled cap:  When the mushroom at is at its maximum extension, before curving upwards.
Low growths:  Term used to describe, mosses, small grasses, ground ivies and some small ferns.
Lucky strike:  Says it all.  When you stumble into, not by your hunting skills, one of those areas where you say, "I have never found them around this stuff before".



Margin:  The edge of the cap or outer portion of cap.
Marginate:  To have a well-defined border.
Matrix:  The substance upon which a fungus grows.
Mealy:  A granular appearance.
Medium:  A term used by commercial growers, to describe the material in which the mushrooms grows.
Membranous:  Skin like tissue making of the partial veil of some mushrooms.
Milky:  A term use to describe a specie of mushroom, that when cut from the base or scored across the gills with a knife, will ooze out a milky latex like substance.
Mushroom:  The fruiting body of a fleshy nature characteristic of some fungi.
Mycelium:  The collective name for the filaments (cell) of the vegative fungus plant.
Mycology:  The study of fungi, the professional study of mushrooms.
Mycophagist:  A hunter and eater of wild mushrooms.
Mycorrhiza:  A mushroom that follows the root system of a plant or tree, and flushes at or near the end of the roots.


Naked:  Devoid of any type of covering. Pertaining to the cap or stalk.
Narrow:  Pertaining to the gills, the opposite of broad, indicates the width of the gills.
Nestled Mushroom:  Any mushroom that grows at the base of a tree.
Nodular growth:  A term used to describe the "umbra" .


Offset cap:  Where the stem does not grow in the center of the cap. Off centered.
Organic material:  Anything rotting, wood, leaves, mulch, plant life etc.
Oysters:  A tree-loving mushroom that grows only on wood, highly sought by mushroom hunters.


Parasitic morps:  The offspring of one mushroom's growth attacking another growth of mushroom.
Partial veil:  A covering that extend from the stem to the bottom edge of the cap. The part that remains will be called a ring or annulus.
Pattern growth:  Used to describe the caps features.(Cracks, hair like, scales or warts on the cap)
Pileus:  Mushroom cap.
Pliant:  Pliable without breaking (not brittle).
Pore:  The non-gill like structure of the Bolete, polypores etc. Often called tubes.
Potassium hydroxide:  KOH.
Powdercap:  A term used to describe some mushrooms that get dusty on the tops of the caps.
Pruinose:  Covered with a fine powder.
Psilocybe:  Hallucinogenic species of mushrooms.
Pubescent:  Having minute hairs.
Pyriform:  Pear shaped.


Quick walk in the woods, honey:  A little white lie told to spouses by an avid mushroom hunter.


Ragtop:  Term used to describe the appearance of the cap, scales, remnant veil hanging from the edge of the cap, or some rough looking appearance.
Recessed growth:  The mushrooms that grows under the bark, in knotholes, or in the hollow part of a tree.
Reticulate:  Ridges on the stem of some Boletes.
Rhizome:  A name for the root like structure of certain mushrooms.
Rimose:  Describes cracks in the caps.
Ring:  The remains of a partial veil clinging to the stem of a mushroom.
Rot:  That nasty, slimy, looking substance you see growing on tree limbs and trunks.
Root like base:  A tapering extension of the stalk, extends into the ground or growing media.
Rubbery:  Describes the texture of feel of the mushroom.
Rugose:  Coarsely wrinkled.
Rugulose:  Another term for wrinkled .


Scabers:  Small brown hairs on the a top of Boletus.
Scales:  A piece of tissue that forms on the caps or stem of a mushroom, these curled up and look like shingles.
Scattered growth:  Just what it states.  You will have to put in some time to find enough for a meal.
Serrate:  Part of the gills edge may be saw tooth or ragged in appearance.
Sessile:  A mushroom that grows directly from it's base.  Does not have a stem.
Senuate:  A gill pattern, which is 'notched' at the stalk (different than serrated).
Shelf mushroom:  Any polypore that grows on wood and some non-polypores such as oysters are classified in this group as well.
Sits:  A polite way of saying what you get, when you pick and eat the wrong mushroom.
Slippery Jack and Slippery Jill:  Two species of Boletes that are usually some of the first and last to appear during the hunting season.
Snag:  A standing damage or dead tree.
Spore:  Reproductive part of a fungus.
Spore print:  A test used to gather the spores of the mushroom for advanced identification.
Stalk, Stem, Stripe or Stipe:  All the same. The part of the mushroom that supports the cap.
Striate: Longitudinal (up and down) furrows or lines on the stem.
              (Twisted striate - lines which circle the stem.)
Suillus:  A sub-specie of Boletes.
Superior:  Pertaining to near the top of the stem. (Above another feature.)
Sybionic:  A growth of two life forms that shares a mutual need, of certain nutrients, food source and or water, and live in close proximity to each other.



Terrestrial:  Growing on the ground.
Tomentose:  Densely hairy, or woolly in appearance.
Trauma:  Flesh inside the cap or gills.
Tuberculate:  Being covered with warts.
Terrain growth shroom:  A species that grows under certain ground coditions only.
                                      (See the word Endemic.)
Tork:  A name given to a species of Agaricus that has a very low profile to the earth and erupts from the ground or underground development.
Torn veil:  The stage of growth where the cap is seperating from the stem.
Tree Identification:  A must learn, for serious shrooming.
Tubes:  The underside of of the caps of boletes and polypores.
Turned around:  A mushroomers term for Completely and Utterly Lost.  Bring a compass next time.


Umbilecate:  Refers to a cap that is shaped like a navel.
Umbra:  A knob in the center of the cap.
Umbonate:  Cap with an umbo.
Universal veil:  A tissue that surrounds the developing mushroom button.


Veins:  Ridges between the gills.
Viscid:  Mushrooms that are sticky of slippery, but not slimy.
Volva:  Remains of a universal veil at the base of the stalk or bulb.


Warts:  Bumps on the top or caps of mushrooms.
Woody:  Wood like texture of a mushroom or particular part of a mushroom.


Xcuse:  What you'll have to give to explain for being 3 hours late, from a "Quick walk in the woods Hon". (See the letter Q.)
Xylophagus:  Term used to describe shrooms that feed or live on or in wood.


Zonate:  Where the cap of a mushroom has concentric bands or zones of color circles.

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