skip to Main Content

A Brief Guide to Common Edible Mushrooms

Common Edible Mushrooms -- A Brief Guide

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links.  Please see our disclosure to learn more.

We write about many types of mushrooms here at This page is a brief guide to the common edible mushrooms we write about.  We will add to this post as we cover new mushrooms so that you have a convenient place to check mushroom definitions.

If you would like some tips on cooking mushrooms, check out our article The Essential Guide to Cooking Mushrooms.

And for further information on finding the mushrooms we talk about below, read our article called Mushroom Foraging — The Ultimate Guide.

Beech Mushrooms

Beech mushrooms, also known as Hypsizygus tessulatus, are a type of edible mushroom that grow on hardwood trees, especially beech trees. They are native to East Asia. These mushrooms are highly sought after by foragers and gourmet cooks alike for their unique nutty flavor and firm, slightly crunchy texture.

In the wild, beech mushrooms tend to be wide and flat. They are native to Asia and are rarely seen in North America.

Wild beech mushrooms
Hypsizygus tessulatus(2022, September 26). In Wikipedia.

Beech mushrooms are commonly cultivated. Farm-grown ones are quite thin and long, with little round caps. They come in both white and brown, but brown beech mushrooms taste the same as white beech mushrooms.

Beech mushrooms are a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes, from soups and stews to stir-fries, risottos, and omelets. They can be a pleasant change from the usual button mushrooms.

These mushrooms actually quite good on their own: toss a handful of beech mushrooms into some butter or olive oil, spiced with salt and pepper over medium-low heat. You can add some parsley if you feel extra fancy before drizzling them over a pan-fried steak or flame-grilled fish.

Learn more about beech mushrooms in our article Beech Mushrooms — Everything You Need to Know.

Black Trumpets

The Craterellus Cornucopioides, or black trumpet mushroom as it is popularly called, is a black-, gray-, or sometimes brown-colored funnel-shaped fungus. It looks a lot like a trumpet with wavy edges rolled outwards.

Other common names it goes by are the “Horn of Plenty,” “Trumpet of Death,” and even “Black Chanterelle” – as the Black Trumpet is closely related to the chanterelle mushroom.

Black Trumpets

Black trumpets are saprotrophic mushrooms that feed on decaying organic matter like dead trees.  They also appear to have mycorrhizal relationships with the roots of trees and other plants. However, their exact ecological role in nature is yet to be fully established.

If you’d like to learn more about black trumpet mushrooms, check out our article Everything You Need to Know About the Black Trumpet Mushroom.


Chaga is an ugly parasitic fungus that grows on the bark of birch trees in colder Northern climates.  They are one of the uglier mushrooms out there, looking like a clump of burnt wood. But they are packed with health benefits and have been used as a traditional medicine in Russia and Scandinavia for centuries.

Medicinal Chaga Mushroom

Chaga is bitter and not good for cooking.  Traditionally Chagas were ground into a powder that was made into tea, but nowadays, it is also sold in capsules as a supplement.



Many chefs consider chanterelles to be one of the most delicious of all wild mushrooms.  They grow in forested regions of North America and Europe, especially in mossy areas of pine forests.

Chanterelle Mushroom Identification

Knowing how to identify chanterelle mushrooms is critical if you’re interested in harvesting them. At first, it may be confusing, but chanterelle identification will be easier with practice, and in no time, you’ll be able to differentiate chanterelles from their look-alikes.  Read all about them in our guide to foraging for chanterelles.

And once you have some chanterelles, see our article on cooking chanterelles for some recipe ideas.


Cordyceps is another ugly parasitic fungus that grows on the backs of insects.  Sounds pretty unappetizing, right?

Parasitic Cordyceps Mushrooms -- Parasitic

As unappetizing as they sound, they are thought to have significant health benefits in Asia, where dried cordyceps have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat many ailments, including fatigue, kidney disease, and low sex drive.


Cremini mushrooms are the same as the common white button mushrooms you find in the store, but they have aged longer. They turn brown as they get older.  They have a similar flavor, but their texture is slightly firmer.

Cremini Mushrooms

Creminis are delicious in soups, stews, casseroles, and other highly liquid dishes.

Giant Puffballs

Round, white and spongy, Giant Puffball Mushrooms are easy to spot out in the woods.  They can grow even bigger than a basketball, large enough to easily feed a group of hungry mushroom foragers.

Ripe puffball

When you are out mushroom foraging, or even if you are going for a short hike, you may find some puffballs. Puffball mushrooms prefer grassy areas; you can typically find them in fields, meadows, and open areas. Sometimes you will find them on decaying wood, but you will never find them growing on live trees.

You can also find puffballs in well-lit areas of deciduous forests, where there are breaks in the forest canopy.  But you will see puffballs more often in grasslands and meadows than in dense forest areas.

They stand out from the crowd because of their massive size, and the perfect giant puffball mushroom ready for harvesting will be solid white throughout – both on the outside and inside.


Hedgehog mushrooms are an edible mushroom type native to Europe and North America. They are also called sweet tooth mushrooms and wood hedgehog mushrooms. They have a distinctive lumpy shape, with caps whose undersides are covered with soft spikes or teeth reminiscent of a hedgehog’s spiky fur.  These soft spikes make hedgehogs very easy to identify.

Creamy hedgehogs
By Holger Krisp. Own work, CC BY 3.0Link

Surprisingly, hedgehog mushrooms aren’t all that well known, at least in the United States.  But knowledgeable mushroom hunters consider these wild mushrooms to be a great find.

They are often compared to the chanterelle mushroom. Chanterelles grow in the same areas as hedgehogs, and they are often mixed in with each other. They also have a similar aroma and taste. Chanterelle mushrooms die off earlier in the Fall than hedgehogs, which means that hedgehogs will become even easier to see.

To learn more about foraging for hedgehog mushrooms, check out our article Hedgehog Mushrooms — Easy to Find and Delicious.

Hedgehog mushrooms offer versatility in the kitchen and a delightful flavor (the name sweet tooth is fitting) that is perfect with many dishes.  Click here for some hedgehog recipes.

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s Mane mushrooms have many possible benefits. Research suggests they help with digestion, ward off depression, fight cancer, improve your immune system, and even protect your brain.

Lion's Mane Mushroom on a Tree

Lion’s Mane mushrooms can taste bitter when thoroughly baked or sauteed.  You can also add them to drinks in powder form (we like to add them to our coffee).  You can even take them as supplements.


Lobster mushrooms are arguably one of the most highly sought-after culinary ingredients in the world of gourmet cooking. Perhaps it’s because of their bizarre appearance or the fact that you won’t find them growing just anywhere. They are also a hit among home cooks who want to add some pizzazz to their meals.

Lobster mushrooms complement seafood dishes perfectly and are a great meat substitute in vegetarian recipes. They readily absorb the flavors of the other ingredients you cook them in.

lobster mushroom

The milk cap and russula mushrooms that the lobster mushroom mold thrives on grow mostly in temperate forests, in areas with hemlock trees. These types of forests exist in the northern regions of the United States and southern Canada.  They are also common in northern Europe and western Russia.  You’ll find them sprouting between early summer and mid-fall.

Read our article Complete Guide to the Lobster Mushroom to learn all about foraging for lobster mushrooms.

If forest foraging isn’t your cup of tea, you can check if your local specialty grocery store or farmer’s market has them in stock.


Mushroom hunters love to forage for maitake mushrooms. Also known as hen of the woods, or grifola fondosa, these are very popular mushrooms.  They are fairly easy to find growing at the base of hardwood trees and are highly sought after for their delectable flavor and the medicinal properties they offer.

hen of the woods mushrooms

Used in many popular culinary dishes, maitakes have tons of calcium, potassium, magnesium, amino acids, vitamin B2 and D2, and niacin.

They have also been shown in studies to help balance blood sugar levels.  It is no wonder that maitakes are such popular mushrooms to forage. Learn more about maitake mushrooms in our guide to hunting and cooking maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms.


Morels grow in wooded areas. They especially like growing near dying hardwood trees like oaks and elms. They are a fun species to hunt for and delicious food.

A Serving of Morels

Morels are expensive, so many people prefer to find their own.   We must advise you to be careful, as there are poisonous mushrooms called False morels that are similar in appearance to the morel. Be sure to hunt for them with an experienced mushroom forager. Read our article to learn how to differentiate between true and false morels.

Morels are great to cook with as they have a wonderful earthy flavor. They are also rich in nutrients.  Try sauteing them in olive oil with some heavy cream or a bit of white wine.


Oyster mushrooms are one of the most common types of cultivated mushrooms worldwide.

Oyster Mushroom Kits: How to Grow Mushrooms at Home

Also known as pearl oyster mushrooms or tree oyster mushrooms, these mushrooms grow on and near trees in warm climate forests.

Oyster mushrooms are especially popular in Asian cooking. You can find them in Asian markets and even in some specialty gourmet markets.  They can be dried, and people usually cook them before eating.

They are easy to grow at home and are a popular grow-your-own-mushroom choice.

Pheasant Back

Pheasant back mushrooms (Cerioporus squamosus) are known as dryad’s saddle or hawks wing mushrooms.  They grow across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Growing either in clumps or on their own, pheasant back mushrooms earn their name from the color and patterned markings found on their caps, which closely resemble the color and patterns a pheasant has on its back.

pheasant back mushrooms on tree
This image is Image Number 41498 at Mushroom Observer, a source for mycological images.  The owner is Dan Molter (shroomydan)

Their flesh is white, and they have a wonderful fruity aroma reminiscent of melon rind and cucumber.  Their flavor is pleasant and mild, neither too mushroom-like nor too earthy.

Pheasant backs are quite easy to identify, so they are a good mushroom for beginners to learn about. Read more in our article on pheasant back mushrooms.


Portabellos are more mature versions of the regular White Buttons and Cremini mushrooms.

portabella mushrooms

Portabellos have a meaty texture and are great as a meat substitute;  grilled, they make an excellent veggie burger.  You can also saute them, stuff them, add them to a stir fry, or toss them into a pasta sauce.

Portabellos are rich in Vitamins B and D.


The Reishi mushroom (known in China as Lingzhi) has a long list of healthful benefits. Found mainly in Asia and in Asian markets outside of Asia, Reishi mushrooms can be eaten cooked, taken as a supplement, or ground into a powder and added to a smoothie or some other drink.  Many people like to steep them in hot water to make tea.

Reishi Lingzhi Mushrooms Growing on a Tree

Reishi mushrooms are highly esteemed in Chinese herbology and are said to aid with sleep, fight cancer, enhance your immune system, help regulate your blood sugar, and combat allergies.

Shaggy Mane

Shaggy mane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus) are an edible mushroom species common in North America.  Also known as Lawyer’s Wig mushrooms, they have tall and rounded caps and are covered with lacy scales that curve up from the sides.

Shaggy Manes in the Grass

Shaggy Mane mushrooms are part of the ink cap species of mushrooms.  They are delicious when harvested properly and considered quite safe to forage, with only a few troublesome look-alikes.

Read our article, Shaggy Mane Mushrooms: What They Are and Where to Find Them, to learn all about shaggy manes.


High in vital nutrients and antioxidants, shiitake mushrooms are delicious, especially in soups and stir-fried dishes.

Edible Shitake Mushrooms

Shiitakes can be purchased, dried or fresh. You can add dried ones directly to a dish or soak them first until they are soft before adding them. If you are cooking fresh shiitakes, be sure to remove the hard stems.  You can then saute the mushrooms and add them to your meal.

White Button

White button mushrooms are probably the most common cooking mushrooms in the United States. Some people criticize white button mushrooms in grocery stores and takeout meals as soft and bland.

Edible Mushrooms -- White Mushrooms

When prepared correctly, however, these high-protein mushrooms are crisp and flavorful. The secret to crisp white button mushrooms? Don’t wash them before cooking.  Just wipe them off with a damp paper towel. Saute them briefly with butter or oil, then add them to a dish, or eat them alone.

Wood Blewit Mushrooms

Out of all the varieties of wild mushrooms, wood blewit is near the top of the list regarding popularity and preference.

Foraging for Wood Blewit

Their exotic purple color, when young, adds an elegant touch to any dish.

Also, their strong flavor with a distinct warm orange or wine-gum aroma can be a real winter treat for all mushroom lovers.

Most common in the United Kingdom and Europe, wood blewits can also be found in temperate parts of North America.

Learn how to forage for them in our guide to foraging for wood blewits.

Common Edible Mushrooms — Conclusion

We hope this list has introduced you to mushrooms you haven’t tried before.

For further information on finding the mushrooms we wrote about above, read our article called Mushroom Foraging — The Ultimate Guide.

If you would like some tips on cooking mushrooms, check out our article The Essential Guide to Cooking Mushrooms.

If you want to learn new mushroom cooking methods, these cookbooks are a great place to start.

Mushrooms: Deeply Delicious Recipes, From Soups and Salads to Pasta and Pies — This cookbook has many mushroom recipes and vegetarian options.

The Mushroom Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Wild and Cultivated Mushrooms — This cookbook will show you how to cook all kinds of mushrooms, both wild and store-bought.

Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health —  If you’re interested in mushrooms’ medicinal and healing properties, this cookbook is useful.

Like This Article? Pin It on Pinterest

Edible Mushrooms

Back To Top