Mushroom hunting

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Mushroom picking by Franciszek Kostrzewski
A basket of edible mushrooms from Ukraine

Mushroom hunting, mushrooming, mushroom picking, mushroom foraging, and similar terms describe the activity of gathering mushrooms in the wild. This is typically done for culinary use, although medicinal and psychotropic uses are also known. This practice is popular throughout most of Europe, Australia, Asia, as well as in the temperate regions of Canada and the United States.[1][2][3][4]

Identifying mushrooms[edit]

Morphological characteristics of the caps of mushroom, such as those illustrated in the above chart, are essential for correct mushroom identification.

Morphological characteristics of the caps of mushrooms are essential for correct visual mushroom identification. Numerous field guides on mushrooms are available and recommended to help distinguish between safe and edible mushrooms, and the many poisonous or inedible species.

A common mushroom identification technique is the spore print, in which a mushroom is placed on a surface and spores are allowed to fall underneath. This technique is often used by mycologists and mushroom hunters distinguish identify the genus of a specimen and differentiate between similar-looking species.

Knowing where and when to search for mushrooms is an important identification skill that takes practice. Most mushroom species require specific conditions. For example, some species only grow at the base of a certain type of tree. Finding a desired species known to grow in a certain particular region can be challenging.[5][6]

Regional importance[edit]

Locals selling mushrooms and berries collected in the Dainava Forest, Lithuania
Forest-picked mushrooms at a Ukrainian market in Kolomyia, Ukraine
  • British enthusiasts enjoy an extended average picking season of 75 days compared to just 33 in the 1950s.[7]
  • In Japan, particular mushroom types are hunted, with particular importance given to delicacies such as the Matsutake mushroom.
  • In Slavic countries and Baltic countries, mushroom picking is a common family activity.[8] “The Russians go absolutely bananas for fungus. Mushrooming is a commonplace tradition there, not the hallowed turf of the academic or connoisseur.”[9] After a heavy rain during the mushroom season whole families often venture into the nearest forest, picking bucketfuls of mushrooms, which are cooked and eaten for dinner upon return (most often in omelettes with eggs or fried in butter) or alternatively dried or marinated for later consumption. In Southern Lithuania mushroom hunting is considered a "national sport". They even host a Mushroom Festival ("Grybų šventė") in Varėna including a mushroom hunting championship.
  • In the United States, mushroom picking is popular in the Appalachian area and on the west coast from San Francisco Bay northward, in northern California, Oregon and Washington, and in many other regions.[citation needed]


Nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl disaster is an important issue concerning mushroom picking in Europe. Due to the wide spread of their mycelium, mushrooms tend to accumulate more radioactive caesium-137 than surrounding soil and other organisms. State agencies (e.g. Bellesrad in Belarus) monitor and analyze the degree of radionuclide accumulation in various wild species of plants and animals. In particular, Bellesrad claims that Svinushka (Paxillus ssp.), Maslenok (Suillus ssp.), Mokhovik (Xerocomus ssp.), and Horkushka (Lactarius rufus) are the worst ones in this respect. The safest one is Opyonok Osyenniy (Armillaria mellea). This is an issue not only in Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia: the fallout also reached western Europe, and until recently the German government discouraged people gathering certain mushrooms.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mushroom Hunting Gains Popularity in US". VOA. 2018-11-19. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  2. ^ "Love mushrooms? California is having an epic 'supershroom' season". Environment. 2023-02-15. Archived from the original on February 15, 2023. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  3. ^ "Colorado mushroom hunting: What you need to know before you start foraging". The Denver Post. 2020-05-18. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  4. ^ Malone, Trey; Swinton, Scott M.; Pudasainee, Aastha; Bonito, Gregory (2022-03-01). "Economic Assessment of Morel (Morchella spp.) Foraging in Michigan, USA". Economic Botany. 76 (1): 1–15. doi:10.1007/s12231-022-09548-5. ISSN 1874-9364. PMC 9012437. PMID 35465299.
  5. ^ "Here's What You'll Need to Start Foraging Mushrooms". Wirecutter: Reviews for the Real World. 2020-07-13. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  6. ^ Oliver (2022-07-15). "Beginner's Guide to Mushroom Foraging & Hunting 101". Curative Mushrooms. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  7. ^ Gange, A. C.; Gange, E. G.; Sparks, T. H.; Boddy, L. (2007). "Rapid and recent changes in fungal fruiting patterns". Science. 317 (5821): 71. Bibcode:2007Sci...316...71G. doi:10.1126/science.1137489. PMID 17412949. S2CID 11405866.
  8. ^ Seifner, Patricia (4 September 2019). "Brace yourselves! It's Mushroom Hunting Season in Russia!". Liden & Denz.
  9. ^ Arora, David (1986). Mushrooms demystified : a comprehensive guide to the fleshy fungi (2nd ed.). Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-170-8. OCLC 13702933.

Further reading[edit]