Mushroom Identification 101

29 Sep

While walking through Hawk’s Bluff, which is part of the Savannas State Preserve, I noticed a white mushroom. Normally, I’m looking for plants to photograph or grasses to identify, but the white mushroom set against the pine needles presented a nice photo op.

When I got home and downloaded the picture, I started wondering about the name of the mushroom. Now I knew that mushrooms, like all other flora and fauna would be divided into Families, then Genera, then Species. But since I’ve never really spent any time trying to ID a mushroom, I didn’t even know where to start. I began by searching Google for images of white mushrooms of Florida. After spending some time and not finding a match, I came on a site entitled “WELCOME TO FLORIDA FUNGI”. And what was better, it had a section entitled “Ask Bill!” Bill said, “Send in your photos and I will help you ID them.”

Never one to turn down a offer of free help, I wasted no time in attaching my photo to a email and sending it off, hoping to get some info in a few days. Imagine my surprise when a few hours later I got an email from Bill giving me the Genus of the mushroom. Bill was positive that it was a Leucocoprinus but it had the possibility of being one of a couple of species. As I later learned, Leucocoprinus is a genus of fungi in the family Agaricaceae whose best known member is the yellow pot-plant mushroom (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii). The genus has a widespread distribution and contains about 40 species.

The ID of Leucocoprinus was just fine for a title for my picture and I was happy. But, apparently Bill wasn’t and he sent the picture off to his contacts for their opinion. As Bill forwarded me their comments and opinions, I began to realize that the positive ID of some mushroom species is not something that one learns overnight.

While I think that I’ll stay in my comfort zone of plant and grass ID, it is interesting to learn something about the world of fungi. And it’s also nice to know that there are people like Bill out there that are willing to take the time and lend their expertise to helping someone asking for help. Here is a link to Bill’s site for anyone wanting to know more about the fungi of Florida:

Thanks Bill.

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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Mushroom


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