21 Types Of Mushrooms From A to Z (With Photos)

Fungi, toadstools, mushies, shrooms – the mushroom kingdom is known by many names, and that’s before you’ve delved deeper into the names of individual mushroom species.

With more than 15,000 different fungi and slime moulds in the UK, we have the pleasure of digging into a rich collection of fascinating, descriptive and, quite frankly, hilarious common and scientific names. From balls, cakes and stinkhorns to discos and piggybacks, let’s take a look at some of the more eyebrow-raising.

The common stinkhorn’s scientific name literally means ‘shameless phallus’.

Credit: John Bridges / WTML

Some Victorians were so affronted by stinkhorns that they’d attack them with cudgels to protect impressionable young ladies.

Mushrooms make a great addition to your cooking, but which supermarket varieties work best in which dishes? Our guide explains how to pick the best mushrooms for home-cooking.

Edible mushrooms range widely in terms of flavour and texture, so they’re suited to a variety of dishes, from stir-fries and stews to salads. While some have a sweeter taste, others lend a more nutty flavour. Some varieties also provide a meaty texture, great for bulking out hearty stews and casseroles.

As well as being low in calories and fat, mushrooms are also a great plant-based source of vitamin D, fibre and prebiotics to support gut health. Find out more in our health benefits of mushrooms guide.

Button Mushrooms

white button mushrooms

The most common type of mushroom in the U.S., button mushrooms are related to cremini and portabellos; the difference is their age. Think of buttons as the youngsters, cremini as a teenager, and portabellos as an adult. For a delicious side dish, sauté button mushrooms in butter and thyme with a splash of white wine.

Crimini Mushrooms

crimini s on marble cutting board with a knife

Another form of agaricus bisporus—cremini mushrooms (also known as baby bellas) are just an older version of the button mushroom. Because of their age, they are a bit browner and firmer, which means they’re great for soups and stews as they maintain some texture when cooked.

Portabello Mushrooms

raw portabello mushrooms on a wood surface

A type of agaricus bisporus, the portobello is the oldest variety of the three featured here. While they were once only imported from Italy, they now grow all over the United States. Thanks to their large size and meaty flavor, they can be swapped in for meat on pretty much anything—sandwiches, pizza, pasta sauces, omelettes, and more!

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Maitake Mushroom

maitake mushroom on wooden board

The grifola frondosa species is also known as “hen-of-the-woods,” “ram’s head,” and “sheep’s head.” Popular for centuries in Japanese and Chinese cuisine, the maitake generally grows at the base of oak trees. Add them to pizza or ramen for a hearty meat alternative.

Hedgehog Mushroom

hedgehog mushroom in nature with moss and rocks

The hydnum repandum is also known as the “sweet tooth,” and it’s easily identifiable thanks to its yellow or orange cap, toothy underside, and fruity odor. After washing, sauté them in butter with a little sage for a delicious treat.

Morel Mushroom

wild morel mushrooms in a bowl

Amy Stocklein Images

The honeycomb-textured wild morchella is especially popular in French cuisine. Hard to find and, therefore, rather expensive, these mushrooms have a firm texture and a nutty flavor—so even people who think they don’t like mushrooms generally like this kind. Sauté with asparagus for a real spring treat.

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Shiitake Mushrooms

shiitake mushroom on a pink wooden background

The lentinula edodes species of mushrooms is often used in Asian
cuisine. The long stems–topped by a dark brown, umbrella-like cap—are removed during prep because they can be quite tough. Try in a mushroom and chicken fried rice or in ramen.

Porcini Mushrooms

porcini mushroom

Boletus edulis, sometimes called “porcino” or “fungo porcino”—Italian for “hog mushrooms.” They generally have a reddish-brown cap that sits atop a white stem. Try porcini in risottos or with fettuccine and a light cream sauce.

Lobster Mushrooms

lobster mushrooms on a white background

Hypomyces lactifluorum is pretty easy to pick out of a lineup thanks to its bright red color and seafood-like smell and taste when cooked. But guess what? It’s not actually a mushroom. It’s a mold that attacks mushrooms. Try them in place on lobster in a roll with loads of butter and chives.

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Enoki Mushrooms

enoki mushrooms in a bamboo colander placed against a wooden background viewed from above

The flammulina velutipes is another favorite in Japanese cuisine. These long, thin, white mushrooms have a mild flavor and crunchy texture. When cooking trim away the base of the bundle and separate the individual mushrooms. Quickly sauté and serve over seasoned rice or add to a brothy soup.

Chanterelle Mushrooms

close up of chanterelle mushrooms on napkin

Cantharellus cibarius are known for their fan-like shape and come in a variety of colors ranging from orange to yellow to white. While they have a fruity odor, their taste is more earthy, which makes them perfect for stews and soups, or sauté them in butter, white wine, and a splash of heavy cream and eat them with crusty bread to sop up all the goodness.

Beech Mushrooms

beech murhsoom on a creased offwhite fabric

This variety of mushrooms (also called clamshell or shimeji) grows in clumps and boasts quarter-size caps and a crunchy texture. They boast an umami flavor and must be cooked to be enjoyed – when they are raw they are tough and bitter. To cook trim away the bottom and break into individual stems. Sauté and try in an omelette or as a pizza topping.

15 Types of Mushrooms and How to Cook With Them

Explore the vast world of mushrooms, including dependable criminis, meaty morels, and more.

Prized for their versatility and meat-like heft and texture, mushrooms are popular worldwide—and they come in many forms. Different types of mushrooms for cooking include basic buttons, meaty king oysters, and elusive honeycomb-like morels. Below, we’re diving into the various edible mushroom varieties, from the most common mushrooms (i.e., the ones you’ll find on a slice from the local pizza shop) to the wild fungi you might spot at the farmers market.

Once you’ve learned about all the different types of mushrooms, it’s time to get cooking. Fold pulled oyster mushrooms into tacos or buttons into quesadillas, toss crispy shiitake mushrooms with creamy pasta carbonara, or sauté a mix of mushrooms to make vegan cheesesteaks. Mushrooms also add juiciness to burger patties and a boost of umami to stir-fries and noodle dishes. Still hungry? We’ve got lots more mushroom recipes.


The legality of the cultivation, possession, and sale of psilocybin mushrooms and psilocybin and psilocin varies from country to country.

Grisette (Amanita vaginata)

You’d be forgiven for giggling at this one – do scientists only have one thing on their mind? Vaginata is indeed a form of the Latin word ‘vagina’, but its more literal meaning is ‘sheath’, applied to the grisette because it emerges from a fleshy, sheath-like sack. This sack breaks as the mushroom grows and expands, leaving a cup-like remnant – known as a volva – at the base of the stem.

The beautiful wood blewit is a forager’s favourite, appearing late in the season between November and February.

Credit: Ionescu Bogdan Cristian / Alamy Stock Photo

The wood blewit is known by two scientific names: Clitocybe nuda and Lepista nuda.

Wolf’s milk slime mould (Lycogala terrestre)

When you first set eyes on these pink pustules, wolves probably aren’t the first thing that springs to mind. Yet this is where they get their name, based on the pinky-orange, milky gloop that oozes out when you pop one. Perhaps wolves were once said to drink it? Or maybe somebody crept close enough to a nursing wolf to scrutinise the state of its milk?

Silky piggyback is a tiny mushroom that grows from the remains of larger fungi.

Credit: Krystyna Szulecka / Alamy Stock Photo

Hairy curtain crust (Stereum hirsutum)

A name that would make your grandmother blush! Thankfully, whoever christened this fungus didn’t have their mind in the gutter. Break down the scientific name and you’ll find that Stereum means ‘tough’ – very apt for crust fungi – and hirsutum means ‘hairy’, which refers to the upper surface of this fungus when it’s young and fresh. The ‘curtain’ part is thought to reflect the rippled edges of the fruiting body, which look like partly drawn curtains.

From its scientific name to its dodgy appearance, the grisette is a particularly suggestive mushroom.

Credit: Aleksandar Milutinovic / Alamy Stock Photo

Silky piggyback (Asterophora parasitica)

We don’t know what a silky piggyback involves, and we aren’t sure we want to find out. What we do know is that it makes for a very descriptive mushroom name. The phor in Asterophora is a form of ‘phero’, meaning ‘to bear’ or ‘carry’ – hence piggyback. The ‘silky’ part comes from the fine hairs on the mushroom’s cap, which give it a silken appearance.

You could also say the name ‘piggyback’ comes from where the mushroom grows – on top of other mushrooms, particularly the charred-looking remains of blackening brittlegill.

Hairy curtain crust gets its name from its likeness to ruffled curtains.

Credit: Nick Upton / naturepl.com

This fungus has a parasite with its own funny fungi name: leafy brain fungus. The jelloid mass grows on dead wood that has been attacked by the hairy curtain crust, and feeds on its fungal cousin.

Yellow stainer (Agaricus xanthodermus)

Funny fungi names can come in handy for mushroom identification, especially where poisonous mushrooms are concerned. The yellow stainer gets its name from the fact that it very quickly turns a vivid chrome yellow when handled, though it could just as easily have been named after the ill effects of eating one. Symptoms of yellow stainer poisoning include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • stomach cramps
  • sweating
  • nausea.

Yellow stainer is often mistaken for the edible field mushroom or horse mushroom, but the speed at which it turns yellow, and the brightness of the yellow stain set it apart.

Wolf’s milk slime mould bleeds a coral-coloured ‘milk’ full of spores.

Credit: Naturepix / Alamy Stock Photo

Slime moulds are classified in a completely different kingdom to fungi, growing on their substrate rather than from it.


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See alsoEdit


A bag of 1.5 grams of dried psilocybe cubensis mushrooms

Clinical researchEdit


Pre-Columbian mushroom stones

What are the different types of mushrooms?

1) White button

The prefix ‘button’ is used to describe small-sized mushrooms. It’s applied to a few varieties, but mostly to white. Button mushrooms are best left whole or halved, and are the variety you should add to a warming stew, chicken casserole or a seasonal braise. See our ultimate mushroom collection for recipe ideas.

2) Closed cup

These medium-sized white mushrooms are the most common type. They’re a good all-rounder, and can be eaten raw in salads or fried for sauces or stuffings. Try using them in our chicken & mushroom puff pie.

3) Open cup/flat

Large and white, their size and shape makes them ideal for roasting whole – meaning they’re great mushrooms to use as a veggie alternative to a meat burger. Trying using open cup mushrooms in this caramelised red onion, prosciutto & mushroom tart.

4) Chestnut

These brown mushrooms are interchangeable with closed cup, but have a slightly deeper, nutty flavour. They’re great on pizzas and in our top-rated mushroom risotto.

5) Portobello

6) Shiitake

Japanese in origin, these mushrooms are slightly oaky. Best for oriental broths and soupy noodle dishes, like these gingery shiitake noodles.

7) Oyster

With an oyster shell shape, these are easier to tear than slice, and their subtly sweet flavour works well in pasta dishes and stir-fries. Bake them in our Russian chicken & mushroom pies with soured cream & dill.

8) King oyster

New to shops, this mushroom has a thick, meaty stem that can be sliced and griddled or fried like meat.

9) Porcini mushrooms

The king of the wild mushroom come under several names. ‘Porcini’ is their Italian name, cep is the French and the lesser used Penny Bun is the English. Because they are wild and seasonal, fresh porcini are hard to find and command high prices, but can be sliced and fried like any other mushroom. Dried porcini make a good, cheaper, replacement but need rehydrating in hot water before cooking, which gives you the added bonus of a flavour-packed mushroom stock, like in this highly-rated creamy mushroom soup.

10) Enoki mushrooms

These very thin, white mushrooms are used predominantly in Japanese and East Asian cooking. They are grown in clumps that they are sometimes still attached to when buying. They work particularly well in broths and stir-fries.

Enjoyed this guide? Learn more about mushrooms…

Wild mushroom recipes
How to microwave mushrooms
Mushroom soup recipes
3 quick dinner ideas with mushrooms
how to freeze mushrooms

Discover more facts about fungi


Despite risks, mushrooms do much less damage in the UK than other recreational drugs.

External linksEdit

  •   The dictionary definition of magic mushroom at Wiktionary

More from A-Z Animals

The Featured Image

The most common culinary mushroom has to be the button mushroom.

About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I’m not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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  1. Aerodynamics of puffball mushroom spore dispersal, Available here: https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2012APS..DFDE17004A/abstract
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Wood blewit (Clitocybe nuda)

At first glance, it looks like the person who gave this mushroom its scientific name knew exactly what they were doing. It still sounds a little suspect even when you dig into the translation: Clitocybe means ‘sloping head’, while nuda means ‘bare’ or ‘naked’.

The wood blewit does look a little like naked skin. When mature, the mushrooms are a beautiful pinky-lilac colour, while younger specimens are a more blue-tinged violet.

Level up your mushroom identification skills

Our fungi swatch book is full of weird, wacky and wonderfully named fungi. Take a look and see how many you can learn to identify.

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Hotlips disco (Octospora humosa)

Of all the origin stories, this must be one of the best. Hotlips disco was named by 12-year-old Rachael Blackman in a 2011 competition run by Natural England and the Guardian newspaper.

“They looked a bit like lips and I thought the name suited it really well because of the bright orange colour,” Rachael told the Guardian.

You can find hotlips disco puckered up amongst clumps of haircap moss.

King Alfred’s cakes are named after the king’s poor baking skills.

Credit: John Bridges / WTML

Cramp balls make useful fire lighters. Some were discovered alongside other ‘tinder fungi’ during an excavation of a 7,000-year-old Spanish settlement.


Common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

Everything about this mushroom looks and sounds like someone invented it as a practical joke. It’s scientific name literally means ‘shameless phallus’ – Phallus relating to its phallic appearance and impudicus translating to ‘immodest’ or ‘shameless’. It even emerges from a bulbous sack.

If that wasn’t enough, the common stinkhorn smells unmistakably like rotting flesh. This attracts flies, which land on the fungus’s dark tip. This is covered in an olive-green slime called gleba, which sticks to the flies and contains spores which the flies then spread as they go about their day.

Hotlips disco is named for its resemblance to puckered lips.

Credit: Gus Jones / BSCG


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mushroom, the conspicuous umbrella-shaped fruiting body (sporophore) of certain fungi, typically of the order Agaricales in the phylum Basidiomycota but also of some other groups. Popularly, the term mushroom is used to identify the edible sporophores; the term toadstool is often reserved for inedible or poisonous sporophores. There is, however, no scientific distinction between the two names, and either can be properly applied to any fleshy fungus fruiting structure.

Edible mushrooms

Commercially important, edible mushrooms include portobellos (Agaricus bisporus), whose forms include button mushrooms, cremini, and baby bellas, and shiitake (Lentinula edodes). The morels (Morchella, Verpa) and false morels or lorchels (Gyromitra, Helvella) are popularly included with the true mushrooms because of their shape and fleshy structure; they resemble a deeply folded or pitted conelike sponge at the top of a hollow stem. Some are among the most highly prized edible fungi (e.g., Morchella esculenta). Edible truffles (various Tuber species), which hardly resemble mushrooms, are also popularly labeled as such. These and other edible mushrooms and fungi are free of cholesterol and contain small amounts of essential amino acids and B vitamins. However, their chief worth is as a specialty food of delicate, subtle flavour and agreeable texture. By fresh weight, the common commercially grown mushroom is more than 90 percent water, less than 3 percent protein, less than 5 percent carbohydrate, less than 1 percent fat, and about 1 percent mineral salts and vitamins.

Mushrooms growing in forest. (vegetable; fungus; mushroom; macrofungi; epigeous)

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Poisoning by wild mushrooms is common and may be fatal or produce merely mild gastrointestinal disturbance or slight allergic reaction. It is important that every mushroom intended for eating be accurately identified (see also mushroom poisoning and death cap mushroom).

Form and major groups

Umbrella-shaped sporophores are found chiefly in the agaric family (Agaricaceae), members of which bear thin, bladelike gills on the undersurface of the cap from which the spores are shed. A few mushrooms belong to the order Boletales, which bear pores in an easily detachable layer on the underside of the cap. The sporophore of an agaric consists of a cap (pileus) and a stalk (stipe). The sporophore emerges from an extensive underground network of threadlike strands (mycelium). An example of an agaric is the honey mushroom (Armillaria mellea). Mushroom mycelia may live hundreds of years or die in a few months, depending on the available food supply. As long as nourishment is available and temperature and moisture are suitable, a mycelium will produce a new crop of sporophores each year during its fruiting season.

Fruiting bodies of some mushrooms occur in arcs or rings called fairy rings. The mycelium starts from a spore falling in a favourable spot and producing strands (hyphae) that grow out in all directions, eventually forming a circular mat of underground hyphal threads. Fruiting bodies, produced near the edge of this mat, may widen the ring for hundreds of years.

Other “mushrooms”

While the agarics and boletes include most of the forms known as mushrooms, other groups of fungi, however, are considered to be mushrooms, at least by laymen. Among these are the hydnums or hedgehog mushrooms, which have teeth, spines, or warts on the undersurface of the cap (e.g., Dentinum repandum, Hydnum imbricatum) or at the ends of branches (e.g., H. coralloides, Hericium caput-ursi). The polypores, shelf fungi, or bracket fungi (order Polyporales) have tubes under the cap as in the boletes, but they are not in an easily separable layer. Polypores usually grow on living or dead trees, sometimes as destructive pests. Many of them renew growth each year and thus produce annual growth layers by which their age can be estimated. Examples include the dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus), the beefsteak fungus (Fistulina hepatica), the sulfur fungus (P. sulphureus), the artist’s fungus (Ganoderma applanatum, or Fomes applanatus), and species of the genus Trametes. The clavarias, or club fungi (e.g., Clavaria, Ramaria), are shrublike, clublike, or coral-like in growth habit. One club fungus, the cauliflower fungus (Sparassis crispa), has flattened clustered branches that lie close together, giving the appearance of the vegetable cauliflower.

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The cantharelloid fungi (Cantharellus and its relatives) are club-, cone-, or trumpet-shaped mushroomlike forms with an expanded top bearing coarsely folded ridges along the underside and descending along the stalk. Examples include the highly prized edible chanterelle (C. cibarius) and the horn-of-plenty mushroom (Craterellus cornucopioides). Puffballs (family Lycoperdaceae), stinkhorns, earthstars (a kind of puffball), and bird’s nest fungi are usually treated with the mushrooms. Another group of ascomycetes includes the cup fungi, with a cuplike or dishlike fruiting structure, sometimes highly coloured.

Other unusual forms, not closely related to the true mushrooms but often included with them, are the jelly fungi (Tremella species) and the ear fungus (Auricularia auriculara-judae).

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Melissa Petruzzello.

General and cited referencesEdit

  • Allen, J.W. (1997). Magic Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle: Raver Books and John W. Allen. ISBN 978-1-58214-026-1.
  • Estrada, A. (1981). Maria Sabina: Her Life and Chants. Ross Erikson. ISBN 978-0-915520-32-9.
  • Haze, Virginia & Dr. K. Mandrake, PhD. The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms. Green Candy Press: Toronto, Canada, 2016. ISBN 978-1-937866-28-0. www.greencandypress.com.
  • Högberg, O. (2003). Flugsvampen och människan (in Swedish). ISBN 978-91-7203-555-3.
  • Kuhn, C.; Swartzwelder, S; Wilson, W. (2003). Buzzed: The Straight Facts about the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-32493-8.
  • Letcher, A. (2006). Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-22770-9.
  • McKenna, T. (1993). Food of the Gods. Bantam. ISBN 978-0-553-37130-7.
  • Nicholas, L.G.; Ogame, K. (2006). Psilocybin Mushroom Handbook: Easy Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation. Quick American Archives. ISBN 978-0-932551-71-9.
  • Stamets, P. (1993). Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 978-1-58008-175-7.
  • Stamets, P.; Chilton, J.S. (1983). The Mushroom Cultivator. Olympia: Agarikon Press. ISBN 978-0-9610798-0-2.
  • Stamets, P. (1996). Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 978-0-9610798-0-2.
  • Wasson, G.R. (1980). The Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-068443-0.

Cramp balls (Daldinia concentrica)

Despite the images the name of this fungus might conjure, the cramp that it references isn’t specific to the nether regions. People once believed that carrying cramp balls would protect you from attacks of bodily cramp.

This fungus is also known as King Alfred’s cakes – another name with more innocent origins than it implies. It’s said that King Alfred, on the run from Vikings, took refuge in the home of a peasant woman who asked him to watch over the cakes she was baking. Alas, he let them burn, and scattered the evidence in the woods to allay his embarrassment.

The yellow stainer instantly bruises bright yellow when bruised or cut.

Credit: iStock.com / Michel VIARD

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