Know Your Mushroom Names and Which Ones to Grow

Mushroom Egerling Disc Fungus

Did you know mushrooms are some of the most sustainable crops on the planet? 

26 million square feet of growing area can land 891 million pounds of mushroom produce

Staggering, right? 

There are even more reasons why you should consider growing mushrooms:

  • The turnaround time for this fast-producing crop is just 8-10 weeks! This also means you can re-use your growing equipment for each growth cycle. 
  • Innovations in the field allow you to use energy-efficient materials in mushroom growing.
  • Mushrooms lend themselves to various permaculture principles and companion planting too.  

In short, the fact that people find them complex to grow is not the be-all and end-all of this amazing crop. And contrary to popular belief, growing this well-known meat substitute doesn’t have to be that hard.

For example, you can grow yours in mushroom beds in shady parts of your garden.  

But first, you need to get the names right. Things can get confusing when you have 14.000 species and who-knows-how-many types of mushrooms out there. 

With mushrooms, you can only make a mistake once. 

Knowing the names of your mushrooms is key to keeping yourself on the safe side.

Today we at Clean Air Gardening will make sure you do. 

Horn of Plenty

Trumpet of Death

Naming and Etymology 

Horn of Plenty are edible mushrooms that belong to the family of Cantharellales. 

Craterellus cornucopioides are the most prominent species, though Craterellus foetidus is also cultivated.

There’s a long list of ominous names attributed to these wild mushrooms. The black chanterelle, black trumpet, trumpet of death. And things get even more ominous with a bit of French pronunciation: 

Trompette de la mort and trombetta dei morti. 

Sounds ever more spooky, right? 

This mushroom species owes its name to the dark colors of its cap funnel: gray, brown, or black. That’s pretty much all there is to its sinister nature. 

However, the fungi are safe to grow. 

In Greek mythology, “Cornucopia” was one of the horns of Amalthea, the goddess of abundance. Hence the name.

The Mushroom Details:

Although it comes with questionable appearance and naming, this edible fungus has unquestionable taste. It’s a prized gourmet mushroom because of its rich, smoky flavor and fruity aroma.

Horn of plenty has a deep funnel with a smooth underside and no gills. Being tough-skinned, it’s naturally resistant to maggots.     

Luckily, these wild mushrooms have no poisonous look-alikes. So, no sweating this time around. 

There are mushrooms you want to think twice about; cap mushroom being a classic example of those. 

The growing season: June through September. You can harvest them well into the winter months.

White Button Mushrooms

White Button Mushroom

Naming and Etymology 

White button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) is one of the most commonly grown. It also goes under the Latin name Agaricus brunnescens.

It accounts for over 97 percent of the mushrooms produced in the United States. 

It’s often dubbed “mushroom”, short and sweet. But there’s a cute little list of synonyms associated with it.

Cultivated mushrooms, Table mushrooms, Champignon de Paris are just a few of them. 

But it may surprise you when you hear a few other names synonymous with the button mushroom. Cremini and portobello mushrooms, anyone? If you had thought these three separate, you were wrong. 

They’re the same type of mushrooms at different levels of maturity!

The Mushroom Details

This pleasant and mild-tasting fungus makes for the chef’s favorite mushroom. Button mushrooms are typically white but can be brown too, depending on the variety.    

Chunky when raw, they attain a tender, chewy texture and an earthy flavor when cooked.

If you want to grow a more robust type of mushroom, opt for Agaricus bitorquis instead of Agaricus bisporus

The growing season: All year-round. 

King Bolete Mushroom

King Bolete mushroom

Name and Etymology 

King bolete (Boletus edulis) is both a prized AND a pricy mushroom that belongs to the Boletus genus. It’s one of the most sought-after edible fungi. You can find it under various common names such as porcini, penny-bun, cep, and steinpilz.

For what it’s worth, the word boletus stems from the Greek bolos, meaning ‘lump of clay’. While edulis refers to something edible and indeed this mushroom is edible. 

And sometimes you can’t fully trust the etymology.

Namely, esculentus also means ‘edible’ in Latin, but Gyromitra esculenta is as deadly as can be!

The Mushroom Details

King bolete has great nutritional content and an exceptional earthy and nutty taste. It’s large and fleshy and has a sponge-like structure on the underside of the cap instead of gills.

A large, round cap in the shade of brown makes it attractive to the eye. But it’s one of the most difficult mushrooms to grow, and that is what’s keeping its price tag high. 

Boletus edulis is one of the safest fungi to try if you’re new to mushroom growing. But be careful! You don’t want to mistake it for Boletus rubroflammeus, its poisonous counterpart. 

The growing season: May through June; September to November

Oyster Mushrooms

Tree Fungus - Oyster Mushrooms

Name and Etymology

Oyster mushroom is one of the most consumed mushrooms in the world. Tree and pearl oyster mushrooms are other equivalent names used. 

The common name refers to the resemblance of the mushroom with oysters, both in shape and color.  

Its Latin name (Pleurotus ostreatus) gives a true-to-life description of the mushroom. Pleurotus (‘sideways’ in Latin) refers to the position of the stem regarding the cap. While ostreatus refers to the oyster-shaped mushroom cap.   

The Mushroom Details

These mushroom favorites owe their popularity to their meaty texture and delicate taste. The large caps have gills on the undersides and short, almost nonexistent stems.

But here’s the best part! 

Oyster mushrooms are some of the easiest mushrooms to grow. Starting with them is a great way to learn the ropes of mushroom cultivation. Here’s why:

  • You’ll be able to grow them in a variety of conditions. 
  • It will be easy to choose your substrates with these no-fuss mushrooms.  
  • 5-8 weeks is the longest you must wait for the harvest! 

The growing season: Year-round.

Want to go green in your garden? Browse the selection of our high-grade, eco-friendly garden supplies.

Hedgehog or Sweet Tooth Mushroom

Hedgehog Fungus

Name and Etymology 

Hedgehog mushrooms a.k.a. sweet tooth mushrooms have quite a character to them. Scientifically known as Hydnum repandum they’re known for their distinct shape and taste.

The mushrooms have pointy gills and a sweet tinge to them, hence the two names. They’re characterized by smooth spores and their symbiotic relationship with trees.

They can be confused with their relatives, the orange and black chanterelles (Cantharellus and Craterellus spp.) The three have a strikingly similar taste but they look quite different.  

The Mushroom Details

Hedgehog mushroom is a prized edible grown for its distinct sweet and nutty taste. Its cap has irregular lobes, its gills are tooth-like structures, and its stems are thick and short. 

Another feature sets the fungi apart from most other members of the mushroom kingdom. These are insect-resistant mushrooms. What’s the catch? 

Hedgehogs are chemically resistant to insects due to the way they release spores. So while bugs will give you headaches with your other mushrooms, they’ll spare you here.  

The growing season: Mid-summer through late fall. 

Pine Mushrooms

Pine mushroom

Naming and Etymology 

Pine mushrooms a.k.a. matsutake mushrooms are an absolute hit in Japan. The name is used to refer to both the Japanese and the North American mushroom variety. 

The scientific name Tricholoma matsutake is used to denote the Japanese pine mushroom. Whereas Tricholoma magnivelere is used to refer to the American variety.  

To this date, it’s unclear whether the two are members of the same species. 

The common name originates from the symbiotic relationship this mushroom has with pine trees. The two are mycorrhizal partners, meaning they meet each other’s nutritional needs to a degree. 

The Mushroom Details

These brownish mushrooms have an intense earthy taste with traces of a woodsy flavor. They reach up to 8 inches in diameter and 6 inches in height. For comparison, some of the largest mushrooms out there are 10 inches wide and 12 inches high. 

The tall white stems have firm flesh and brown discolorations below the ring. 

The growing season: September through October in cooler climates; November through January in warmer climates.

Chicken of the Woods

Sulphur Mushroom

Naming and Etymology.

Chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) is yellow in color which makes them flat-out conspicuous.

Wondering how the mushrooms got their name? 

They’re said to taste like chicken! 

The Mushroom Details.

Chicken of the Woods may have a chicken-like taste, but people have compared it with lobster and crab. One thing’s for sure, the fungus has a meaty taste. 

This fan-shaped mushroom has tiny pores instead of gills and they come in a range of colors. Bright yellows and oranges are reserved for younger specimens and yellows and whites for the older ones. 

The growing season: Summer and fall, rarely winter.

Your Turn Now

So, there you go, some of the best contenders for your mushroom cultivation project. Once you know which mushrooms are safe and tasty to grow half the work is done. 

The wonderful world of mushrooms reminds us we need to know our beans when dedicating ourselves to a certain field. And gardening is a pursuit that requires full dedication. 

Continue this lifelong learning with Clean Air Gardening. We’re a hub dedicated to organic gardening enthusiasts just like you. We offer both the gardening tips and the gardening tools to all those that champion green gardening.

Featured image:

oyster mushrooms with text overlay growing mushrooms learn your mushroom names and which ones to grow

Leave a Comment