types of mushrooms

Since prehistoric times, people have consumed different varieties of mushrooms, from shiitake mushrooms to oyster mushrooms to magic mushrooms. But how many types of mushrooms are out there?

Although many people think of mushrooms as vegetables, they aren't. Instead, they are actually fungi that have a few characteristics similar to plants and animals. And while a significant chunk of them are classified as edible mushrooms, a lot of them are used for a variety of functions, including medicine, recreation, and rituals.

To date, there are over 10,000 types of mushrooms known to man. However, mycologists believe that there are more undiscovered wild mushrooms waiting to be recognized and cataloged. Out of all the known mushroom species, 3,000 mushrooms are considered to be edible mushrooms. However, there are just about 200 cultivated mushrooms due to their ease of cultivation. Although some mushrooms are edible, they can be difficult to grow on a mass scale.

4 Main Types of Mushrooms

Despite the large number of mushroom species, you can categorize them into four types.


Mycorrhizal mushrooms have a symbiotic relationship with plants and trees. The mycelia of these mushrooms attach themselves to the roots of their host, facilitating the entry and uptake of more moisture and nutrients. The mushrooms benefit from this relationship by getting sugars from their hosts. In fact, many farmers facilitate this symbiotic relationship because of the benefits.

Practically any plant can benefit from a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizae. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to cultivate these fungi. Most species are found by mushroom hunters out in the wild.

Among the most popular of these mushrooms are porcini mushrooms, truffles, chanterelle mushrooms, matsutake mushrooms, and Caesar's mushrooms.


Saprotrophic mushrooms play a crucial role in the ecosystem. Because they release enzymes and acids that break down dead matter, they are an important part of the decomposition process. These mushrooms feed on dead plants and animals.

Among the most popular saprotrophs are the morel mushrooms, reishi mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, white button mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, turkey tail mushrooms, giant puffball mushrooms, chicken of the woods mushrooms, enokitake mushrooms, shaggy mane mushrooms, black trumpet mushrooms, and yellow houseplant mushrooms.

As you will notice, a sizeable chunk of saprotrophs are also classified as edible mushrooms.

Parasitic mushrooms

Like symbiotic mushrooms, parasitic mushrooms need a host. But unlike mycorrhizal mushrooms, parasites do not provide benefits to their hosts. In fact, these mushrooms can kill the plants they attack.

The honey fungus, caterpillar fungus, lion's mane mushrooms, and Chaga mushrooms are a few of the most popular parasitic mushrooms.


Endophytes, like some of the previously mentioned types of mushrooms, invade plants. However, they do not kill their hosts. In fact, their presence can even benefit their hosts by boosting immunity and making nutrient absorption more efficient.

But unlike other mushrooms like mycorrhizae, this type of mushroom seemingly does not need a host. This means that these mushrooms can be cultivated inside a laboratory.

Popular Edible Mushrooms

Mushrooms figure prominently in a variety of cuisines all around the world. Chefs use these fungi to imbue their dishes with an earthy flavor. Additionally, mushrooms are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

But how exactly are mushrooms classified as edible? For starters, an edible mushroom should be from harmful poisons that can harm or even kill you. Of course, the absence of poisons is just one major consideration. Edible mushrooms should also imbue flavor. In fact, edible mushrooms are a good source of umami.

The nutritional content of mushrooms

Edible mushrooms can transform a bland dish into a superb one. But these mushrooms aren't just flavor enhancers. They are a good source of various nutrients, including fiber, zinc, potassium, protein, niacin, copper, selenium, and L-ergothioneine.

To get the most out of edible mushrooms, you should choose those that are grown organically in non-toxic environments. And that's one of the curious things about these fungi. Mushrooms can absorb toxins like pesticides from their growing environment.

Popular edible mushrooms

Most of the edible mushrooms that you can buy from your local grocery have been cultivated on farms. There are also a few mushroom species that you can grow at home.

Among the most popular mushrooms that you can buy at groceries are white button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, and cremini mushrooms.

Wild mushrooms

Some edible mushroom species are simply difficult to cultivate and grow at a commercial scale. As such, chefs and restaurants rely on mushroom hunters to get their supply. However, there are some experts that have voiced concerns about picking wild mushrooms. According to them, the impact of picking these mushrooms may have an adverse effect on the environment.

Among the most popular edible wild mushrooms are the chanterelle mushrooms, black trumpet mushrooms, Caesar's mushrooms, morel mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, matsutake mushrooms, shaggy mane mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, and giant puffball mushrooms.

Magic Mushroom Types

Currently, there are about 180 species of mushrooms that are classified as magic mushrooms. Most of these can be found growing in the wild in various parts of the world.

Here is a brief look at some of the most popular psychoactive mushrooms.

Psilocybe cubensis

Psilocybe cubensis or cubes have become synonymous with the term magic mushroom. In fact, if you have tried shrooms before, it is highly likely that you ingested Psilocybe cubensis.

Cubes first gained popularity during the seventies, in large part due to the ease of their cultivation. Although some strains can still be found growing in the wild, most psychonauts prefer those grown indoors because of their potency.

Like cannabis, Psilocybe cubensis also has strains, the most popular of these are the Penis Envy and Golden Teachers.

In the wild, Psilocybe cubensis can be found in Mexico, the United States, Cuba, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, and Central America.

If you are foraging magic mushrooms, cubes are one of the mushroom species that are easy to spot. For one, most strains have a golden color and turn blue when touched. Their caps also grow wider as they mature.

Psilocybe semilanceata

Also known as Liberty Caps, Psilocybe semilanceata are the most widespread psychoactive mushrooms, mostly in the northern hemisphere. They can be found in England, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria, Iceland, and Russia.

In North America, Liberty Caps can be found growing in the wild in California, British Columbia, and Canada. These shrooms can also be found in New Zealand and Chile.

In terms of potency, Liberty Caps are not that far off from cubes. These mushrooms get their names from their bell-shaped caps. They can be quite tricky to hunt because of their small size. You can find them hidden among the grass.

Unlike cubes, Liberty Caps can be tricky to cultivate at home. This is why most of these mushrooms are picked outdoors.

Psilocybe azurescens

Nicknamed the flying saucer mushroom, Psilocybe azurescens has earned a reputation for being one of the most potent magic mushrooms. Originally discovered by Boy Scouts in 1979 in an Oregon campsite, the mushroom species was officially recognized in 1996.

Because flying saucer mushrooms prefer sandy soil, they can only be found in a handful of areas, including Oregon, California, and Washington. But despite this fact, you can grow Psilocybe azurescens without too many hassles.

Flying saucers are a true powerhouse when it comes to potency. According to lab analysis, these shrooms can contain as much as 1.78% psilocybin. Take caution when you are ingesting flying saucers because they can induce anxiety, especially among novice psychonauts.

Psilocybe stuntzii

Because Psilocybe stuntzii can only be found on the American West Coast and Canada, it is considered one of the rarer species of magic mushrooms. Also called Stuntz's blue legs, after Daniel Stuntz who was the first to collect this psychedelic mushroom.

The Psilocybe stuntzii is often found on decaying plant matter like grass clippings and wood chips. If you are planning to hunt this mushroom, take note that it looks like a poisonous mushroom called Galerina marginata. The key difference between the two is that the Psilocybe stuntzii is sticky, especially when wet.

Psilocybe mexicana

Also called teonanacatl and pajaritos, the Psilocybe mexicana is a magic mushroom species that has figured prominently in ancient civilizations like the Aztecs.

In fact, Psilocybe mexicana was the mushroom used by Albert Hoffman in isolating the psilocybin compound.

This mushroom species can be found in Mexico, especially during the rainy season, in a variety of environments, from forests and meadows to roadsides.

Despite its diminutive size, the Psilocybe mexicana is quite potent.

Psilocybe zapotecorum

Psilocybe zapotecorum is another magic mushroom species that grows in Mexico. This mushroom got its scientific name after the Zapotec tribe which may have used it for ceremonial purposes. Aside from Mexico, the mushroom can also be found growing in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.

Psilocybe zapotecorum prefers muddy and swampy soil with lots of decaying plant matter.

Copelandia cyanescens

Although some people call the Copelandia cyanescens blue meanies, it is different from the cube strain with the same nickname.

Copelandia cyanescens can be found in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Australia, Mexico, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, and South America.

According to lab analysis, Copelandia cyanescens contains twice the psilocybin of Psilocybin cubensis.

Psilocybe tampanensis

Initially discovered in Tampa, Florida in 1977, Psilocybe tampanensis has become one of the more popular magic mushroom species among home cultivators. This is because the mushroom is easy to grow. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to come by in the wild.

Also known as philosopher's stone, the magic mushroom is openly sold in specialty stores in the Netherlands. The mushroom produces a structure known as sclerotia or truffles where most of the psilocybin is concentrated.

Psilocybe caerulipes

Nicknamed the blue foot mushroom, Psilocybe caerulipes is one of the rarest magic mushrooms. In the wild, it can be found in the American Midwest and the eastern portion of the country as well as Canada.

In the wild, it can be found growing on waterlogged hardwoods. Its nickname is derived from the blue color of the stem's base.

This mushroom has about the same potency as Psilocybe cubensis.

Psilocybe cyanescens

Psilocybe cyanescens, also known as wavy caps, are among the most widespread magic mushrooms. You can find these psychedelic mushrooms in places with plenty of wood and plant debris.

Originally identified in England in 1946, the species is thought to originate from the Pacific Northwest and Europe. Today, you can find them practically anywhere. These potent mushrooms are quite difficult to grow indoors.

Psilocybe caerulescens

Psilocybe caerulescens was first identified in 1923 and can be found in Mexico and the southern states of the United States. The mushroom prefers high-altitude environments with cold temperatures. You can find them in areas devoid of plant life.

This mushroom first gained popularity when Maria Sabina gave Gordon Wasson a few pieces during a local ritual. Eventually, Wasson wrote an article about these shrooms for Life Magazine.

Also known as derrumbes, this mushroom is still used by the Mazatec people of Mexico for their rituals.

Compared to other shrooms, Psilocybe caerulescens has a low to moderate potency. Additionally, the effects of the shroom are comparatively shorter.

Distinguishing Poisonous Mushrooms from Edible and Magic Mushrooms

One important rule all mushroom hunters follow is not to pick unidentified mushroom species. That can be quite tricky if you do not know exactly how to distinguish poisonous mushrooms from psychoactive and edible mushrooms. Aside from that, there are edible and poisonous varieties that look similar. To prevent picking poisonous mushrooms, here are a few tips that you can follow.

Observe the mushrooms

One of the first things that you need to do to identify whether a mushroom is good to consume or poisonous is to observe it closely. Take note of the immediate environment.

Look at the mushroom's color as well as its anatomy. From just looking at the mushroom, does its texture look fibrous or brittle? Does it have a partial veil? From there, check your notes with a field guide.

Pick the mushroom

After checking with the field guide, you will have a good hunch if the mushroom you are looking at is edible or psychoactive. The next step you will need to do is to pick the mushroom from the substrate. Make sure that you pick the mushroom whole. Observe the texture of the cap and look at the gills and stems. If you are hunting for psilocybin mushrooms, you will see some blue bruising.

Make a spore print

The spore print is one of the best ways to identify a mushroom. To make one, you will need to find a piece of paper or a foil. After that, take the cap off the mushroom using a sharp and clean blade. Next, put the cap on the paper with the gills face down. Leave the cap on the piece of paper anywhere between six to 12 hours, covering the mushroom with a bowl or cup. After the recommended time has elapsed, remove the mushroom cap from the paper.

Enlist the help of experts

When it comes to hunting mushrooms, you can never be too cautious. Even if you are pretty sure that the mushroom you are looking at is edible or a shroom, it wouldn't hurt to get help from more experienced mushroom hunters.

Why not consider sharing your notes and pictures of the mushroom spores in a local online group? This will help you validate your assumptions and avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Play it safe

One of the risks associated with hunting for mushrooms is mistaking an edible or magic mushroom for a poisonous species and vice versa. As such, you should practice due caution when dealing with wild mushrooms.

Take note that many mushrooms that are safe for consumption have look-alikes. Unless you are 100% sure that the mushrooms you picked are safe, err on the side of caution and either leave them or ask an expert for confirmation.

Forage with Care

Whether you are hunting edible or magic mushrooms, make sure that you forage with care. Mushrooms play a crucial role in the ecosystem. And even the smallest of actions like picking a handful of mushrooms can affect the ecosystem in the area where you hunt mushrooms.

As much as possible, get only what you need and try to minimize disturbance in the area where you found the mushrooms. Avoid trespassing on private properties and brush up on laws related to mushroom foraging. If you have found mushrooms on private property, ask for permission before picking them. Be aware that even in some public spaces, mushroom foraging may not be permitted.

Respect the area where you found the mushrooms. As much as possible, move with deliberate care, making little to no noise. Do not leave trash behind, and if possible, clean up the area before leaving.

Hunting for wild mushrooms can be sustainable if you practice the aforementioned tips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get addicted to magic mushrooms?

Unlike other substances, magic mushrooms do not create physical dependence. In short, you cannot get addicted to them.

However, the more you use them, the more likely that you will develop a tolerance. And when that happens, you will need to ingest more to get similar effects.

Are psilocybin mushrooms legal?

In the United States, magic mushrooms are still classified as Schedule I substances. That means that it is illegal to possess and sell them. However, there are cities in America that have decriminalized them. These areas include Oakland, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Denver.

What's the likelihood of having a bad mushroom trip?

A bad trip is always a possibility that you should take into account before ingesting magic mushrooms. However, there are certain factors that can increase the chances of having a bad trip. That includes ingesting a large dose, having a poor setting for the trip, and trying to control the effects of shrooms.

How long do shrooms stay in the system?

After a few hours, your body has excreted most of the mushroom compounds from your body through urination. Three hours after ingestion, about 60% of psilocybin should have been eliminated. After 24 hours, your body should have flushed most of the psilocybin.

How long does the high last?

On average, a mushroom high can last between three to six hours after ingestion. The exact timing will vary from one person to another based on factors like mushroom species, metabolism, preparation method, and more.