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In autumn, the mild weather and colorful forests invite you to pick mushrooms. This is fun for the whole family and enriches the menu with a fresh, delicious component. But be careful: many a mushroom in fields and forests has one or more poisonous doubles. In this guide you will find useful information about the most popular mushrooms with information on where they were found, their characteristics and the risk of confusion. How to recognize local, edible mushrooms.

Edible mushrooms

Edible mushrooms from local forests

Many of the more than 2,500 native mushroom species are edible - but by no means all. The following overview presents the 30 most popular mushrooms in alphabetical order with their characteristic properties, classic locations and harvest time. If available, the list draws attention to distinguishing features from toxic counterparts.

Mushrooms from B to E

Birch fungus (Leccinum scabrum)

  • Growth habit: 5 to 15 cm tall, hemispherical, later flattened cap, 5 to 15 cm tall
  • Hat color: light grey-brown with a reddish tinge or yellowish nuances
  • Stem Color: White, often with black web or black scales, similar to a birch trunk
  • Tubes (sponge): white on young mushrooms, later ocher yellow
  • Occurrence: under birches in symbiosis
  • Collection time: June to November
  • Taste: mild to sour
  • Risk of confusion: unmistakable thanks to the characteristic handle
Birch fungus (Leccinum scabrum)

Meatball (Lactarius volemus)

  • Growth habit: 10 to 12 cm high, 5 to 15 cm wide, flat cap with a dent in the middle
  • Cap color: orange-red-brown to cinnamon-colored, rarely yellow as a bun
  • Stem color: orange-brown
  • Lamellae: yellow with red discolouration at bruises
  • Occurrence: at the edges of deciduous and coniferous forests
  • Collection time: July to October
  • Taste: mild
  • Risk of confusion: unmistakable thanks to the penetrating fishy smell of herring
  • Special feature: even minor injuries cause strong milk flow and turn the fingers brown
Meatball (Lactarius volemus)

Bronze boletus, black-capped porcini (Boletus aereus)

  • Growth form: 15 cm high, 3 to 5 cm thick stem, hemispherical cap up to 25 cm in size, velvety skin
  • Hat color: black to ocher brown
  • Stem color: creamy yellow to creamy white
  • Tubes (sponge): white
  • Occurrence: under chestnuts and oaks
  • Collection time: July to October
  • Taste: nutty and mild
  • Likelihood of confusion: none, similar to other porcini mushrooms, all of which are edible
  • Special feature: mushroom of the year 2008, one of the most impressive edible mushrooms on local soil
Bronze boletus, black-capped porcini (Boletus aereus)

Thin-fleshed aniseed mushroom (Agaricus silvicola)

  • Growth form: 8 to 10 cm high, thin cap with a diameter of 5 to 10 cm, initially bell-shaped, later flattened
  • Cap color: sulfur yellow to cream with yellow spots
  • Stem: white, hollow inside, slender, 1 to 1.5 cm thick, tuberous foot
  • Lamellae: pink, brown with age
  • Occurrence: Deciduous and coniferous forests
  • Collection time: June to October
  • Risk of confusion: poisonous death cap mushroom with white lamellae
  • Special feature: intense scent of aniseed or almonds
Thin-fleshed aniseed mushroom (Agaricus silvicola)

Noble stimulant, blood stimulant (Lactarius deliciosus)

  • Growth habit: 3 to 7 cm high, 5 to 10 cm wide, with a hollow foot when old
  • Cap: first flat, later funnel-shaped to involuted, brick-orange with shading, silvery striped
  • Stem color: orange
  • Lamellae: ocher yellow to light orange
  • Occurrence: pine forests
  • Collection time: August to October
  • Taste: mild, fruity
  • Risk of confusion: Salmon stimulant, which is not poisonous but has an extremely bitter taste
  • Special feature: orange-colored milk stains the urine red after consumption, but this is harmless
Noble stimulant, blood stimulant (Lactarius deliciosus)

Mushrooms from F to H

Bottle Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)

  • Growth form: prickly, white shape, 3 to 10 cm tall, no distinctive cap
  • Stem color: white on young mushrooms, brown on older specimens
  • Occurrence: Coniferous forests, more rarely in deciduous forests
  • Collection time: June to October
  • Likelihood of confusion: Poisonous potato puffs with yellow-brown warts and black flesh inside
  • Special feature: brown flesh of older mushrooms is inedible
Bottle Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)

Damsel russula (Russula cyanoxantha)

  • Growth habit: 5 to 15 cm wide, flat cap
  • Cap color: violet-green, less often ocher-yellow
  • Stem: 4 to 10 cm high, 1 to 4 cm thick, whitish with purple tinges
  • Lamellae: white
  • Occurrence: Beech forests and in mixed forests
  • Collection time: July to October
  • Taste: pleasantly mild
  • Risk of confusion: with other russula, whose bitter taste can numb the tongue
  • Special feature: mushroom of the year 1997
Damsel russula (Russula cyanoxantha)

Gold boletus (Suillus grevillei)

  • Growth habit: first hemispherical, later flat cap, 5 to 15 cm wide
  • Hat color: golden-yellow to orange-brown
  • Stem: yellowish, 4 to 10 cm high and 0.5 to 2 cm wide, white skin ring
  • Tubes (sponge): yellowish, brown with age
  • Occurrence: under larches in a symbiotic community
  • Collection time: July to October
  • Taste: spicy-mild, with tender meat
  • Likelihood of confusion: none
Gold boletus (Suillus grevillei)

Goshawk mushroom, roe deer mushroom (Sarcodon imbricatus)

  • Growth habit: 5 to 8 cm high with a cap up to 15 cm wide, prickly underneath
  • Hat: Scaly and light brown like the plumage of hawks and sparrowhawks, with a sunken center
  • Stem: 2 to 5 cm across, white at first, later turning brown from the base
  • Lamellae: light grey, spiny
  • Occurrence: in beech and spruce forests, often in closed witch rings
  • Collection time: June to November
  • Taste: mild to nutty-spicy
  • Risk of confusion: due to the prickly underside of the hat, it can also be easily identified by laypersons
  • Special feature: mushroom of the year 1996
Goshawk mushroom, roe deer mushroom (Sarcodon imbricatus)

Hornbeam boletus (Leccinum carpini)

  • Growth form: wrinkled cap up to 12 cm in diameter
  • Hat color: light brown to dark brown
  • Stem Color: Grayish with dark scales
  • tubes: cushion-like bulging around the stem grey-white, later grey-green
  • Occurrence: under hornbeams and hornbeam hedges
  • Collection time: July to October
  • Taste: pleasantly mild
  • Likelihood of confusion: none, similar to the birch mushroom, which is also edible
  • Special feature: after cutting, the meat turns purple to black, which does not affect the taste
Hornbeam boletus (Leccinum carpini)

Autumn trumpet (Craterellus cornucopioides)

  • Growth form: funnel-shaped, hollow fruit body, 2 to 6 cm wide, 3 to 12 cm tall
  • Hat color: black inside, brown-black outside with folded edge
  • Stem color: grey
  • Occurrence: primarily under beech trees, otherwise in beech and fir forests
  • Collection time: August to November
  • Taste: mild
  • Risk of confusion: Gray Leistling with a 1-6 cm wide, grey-brown funnel cap
Autumn trumpet (Craterellus cornucopioides)

Mushrooms from J to M

Judas ear (Auricularia)

  • Growth form: 4 to 10 cm wide, elastic fruit body reminiscent of an ear
  • Fruit body colour: reddish brown, olive brown to greyish violet
  • Flesh color: reddish-brown
  • Occurrence: primarily on the wood of black elder and other deciduous trees
  • Collection time: all year round
  • Taste: very mild
  • Risk of confusion: unmistakable due to the bizarre shape
  • Special feature: Mushroom of the year 2022, contracts when it is dry and swells when it is wet
Judas ear (Auricularia)

Curled mother hen, curly hen (Sparassis crispa)

  • Growth form: curly fruit bodies, 10 to 40 cm in diameter, resembles a bath sponge
  • Color of fruit bodies: yellowish to light brown
  • Flesh color: white-yellow
  • Stem: thick fleshy base, reminiscent of a cauliflower stalk
  • Occurrence: pines
  • Collection time: July to November
  • Taste: very tasty, mildly nutty, the lighter the flesh, the more delicate
  • Likelihood of confusion: none, the similar looking oak mother hen is also edible
Curled mother hen, curly hen (Sparassis crispa)

May mushroom (Calocybe gambosa)

  • Growth habit: 5 to 8 cm high, 3 to 10 cm wide, initially closed, later spreading cap, rolled-up edge
  • Hat color: creamy white
  • Stem color: creamy white
  • Lamellae: creamy white
  • Occurrence: at forest edges
  • Collection time: May and June
  • Taste: mild
  • Risk of confusion: highly poisonous brick red crack fungus, optical double, whose fruity scent serves as the most important distinguishing feature
  • Special feature: more intense floury smell that is perceived as intrusive, which disappears when cooking
May mushroom (Calocybe gambosa)

Chestnut boletus (Xerocomus badius)

  • Growth form: 12 cm high, 3 cm wide, semicircular
  • Hat color: brownish, dull, greasy when wet
  • Stem color: tawny
  • Tubes (sponge): creamy yellow, turning bluish on light pressure
  • Occurrence: Spruce and pine forests
  • Collection time: June to November
  • Taste: nutty, mildly aromatic
  • Risk of confusion with toadstools: none
Chestnut boletus (Xerocomus badius)

Black-headed Milkcap (Lactarius lignyotus)

  • Growth form: Cap with a rolled-up edge, 2 to 6 cm wide, ridged stem
  • Hat color: black-brown to soot-colored
  • Stem color: black-brown
  • Flesh color: white
  • Lamellae: white
  • Occurrence: spruce forests
  • Collection time: August to October
  • Taste: mild, but the milk can taste bitter
  • Likelihood of confusion: Pitch-black milkling, unridged, darker stem, pointedly humped, causes stomach problems
Black-headed Milkcap (Lactarius lignyotus)

Monk's Head (Clitocybe geotropa)

  • Growth form: 8 to 15 cm tall, with a wide, spreading hat that is up to 25 cm wide and a wart-like hump
  • Hat color: cream to beige, browning with age
  • Stem Color: Cream to beige
  • Lamellae: white to cream-colored, descending on the stem
  • Occurrence: Deciduous and coniferous forests
  • Collection time: September to November
  • Risk of confusion: highly toxic white lead varnish funnel, only half the size and without a hump on the cap
  • Special feature: gathers in witch rings up to 800 m in size
Monk's Head (Clitocybe geotropa)

Mushrooms from P to S

Pearl Mushroom (Amanita rubescens)

  • Growth form: spherical, later flared cap, up to 15 cm tall
  • Hat color: light brown, set with pink-grey pearl flakes
  • Stem color: white with reddish tinge, ridged ring
  • Lamellae: white, mottled with pink-red when old
  • Occurrence: Deciduous and coniferous forests
  • Collection time: June to October
  • Taste: Mild, sweetish, raw poisonous
  • Likelihood of confusion: panther mushroom, very poisonous, white stem without red tinge, cap with smaller pearl flakes
  • Special feature: the pearl-like flakes disappear from the hat when it rains
Pearl Mushroom (Amanita rubescens)

Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

  • Growth form: hemispherical, short-stalked, 3 to 8 cm tall
  • Cap: bright yellow, 3 to 12 cm in size, varying in shape from flat, indented to convex to funnel-shaped
  • Stem: thin, grooved and yellow
  • Lamellae: yellowish and forked
  • Occurrence: Coniferous forests, mainly in nests under pine trees
  • Collection time: June to October
  • Taste: spicy to slightly peppery
  • Likelihood of confusion: none, resembles the false chanterelle, which tastes bland
  • Special feature: is under nature protection and may only be collected for personal use
Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

Giant Parakeet (Macrolepiota procera)

  • Growth habit: 15 to 40 cm high, young cap round, up to 40 cm tall, with a slight hump in the middle
  • Hat Color: Cream with dark scales
  • Stem: slender, hollow, with a sliding ring, grey-brown
  • Lamellae: creamy white, later brownish
  • Occurrence: in clearings and on the edges of deciduous forests, in parks and in cemeteries
  • Collection time: June to November
  • Taste: nutty to mild, especially the ring
  • Risk of confusion: poisonous saffron parasol, 5 to 30 cm in size, light-colored hat with dark spots, causes stomach problems
  • Special feature: edible mushroom of the year in 2022, but poisonous when raw
Giant Parakeet (Macrolepiota procera)

Sheep mushroom (Agaricus arvensis)

  • Growth form: 5 to 15 cm high, hemispherical to slightly convex, very fleshy cap, up to 15 cm in diameter
  • Hat color: off-white, smooth surface
  • Stem Color: Cream to dirty yellow
  • Lamellae: grey-white to pink and brownish
  • Occurrence: Meadows, parks, pastures
  • Collection time: May to October
  • Taste: tasty, mild-pleasant
  • Risk of confusion: highly toxic carbolic mushroom, visually very similar, carbolic, unpleasant odor is the most important distinguishing feature; deadly poisonous spring death cap which is recognizable by pure white gills, so please exercise extreme caution with young mushrooms that still thrive with white gills
Sheep mushroom (Agaricus arvensis)

Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus)

  • Growth form: 10 to 25 cm high with a cylindrical cap
  • Cap: 5 to 10 cm high, 3 to 6 cm wide, white with brown scales
  • Stem color: white
  • Lamellae: white
  • Occurrence: rubbish dumps, field and roadsides, fertile meadows, more rarely in forests
  • Collection time: May to November
  • Flavor: mild, delicate, but only in young mushrooms
  • Likelihood of confusion: distinctive
  • Special feature: old copies melt like dark ink
Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus)

Pig's Ear, Purple Leastling (Gomphus clavatus)

  • Growth form: 2 to 8 cm high, 4 to 8 cm wide, often fused, funnel-shaped fruit bodies, wavy edges
  • Fruit body color: flesh-colored to purple
  • External ridges: flesh-colored, longitudinally veined, forked
  • Occurrence: Beech and spruce forests
  • Collection time: August to October
  • Risk of confusion: Unmistakable even for laypeople due to the unusual shape
  • Special feature: Mushroom of the year 1998, is a nature reserve, collecting for personal use is permitted
Pig's Ear, Purple Leastling (Gomphus clavatus)

Morel (Morchella esculenta)

  • Growth form: 10 to 30 cm tall, oval to ovoid with round, honeycombed ribs
  • Hat color: light beige to brownish
  • Stem color: white, lighter than the cap
  • Occurrence: deciduous forests, parks
  • Collection time: April to May
  • Likelihood of confusion: none, resembles the less tasty pointed morels with a pointed, net-like hat
  • Special feature: is under nature protection, collecting for personal use is allowed
Morel (Morchella esculenta)

Porcini, spruce boletus, king's mushroom (Boletus edulis)

  • Growth form: thick tubular, rounded, convex cap
  • Hat color: brown
  • Stem: pale brown, pot-bellied, barrel-shaped to cylindrical, with light network markings
  • Tubes (sponge): from white to yellowish to green with increasing age
  • Occurrence: Coniferous and deciduous forests
  • Collection time: June to October
  • Taste: nutty
  • Likelihood of confusion: none, resembles non-toxic, bitter, light brown bile boletus with pink underside
  • Special feature: is under nature protection, picking for personal use is allowed
Porcini, spruce boletus, king's mushroom (Boletus edulis)

Mutabilis (Kuehneromyces mutabilis)

  • Growth form: 5 cm high, 4 cm wide,
  • Hat color: brown, shiny when wet
  • Stem: a ring separates the smooth, upper, cream-colored half from the scaly, dark, lower half of the stem
  • Lamellae: creamy white
  • Occurrence: deciduous forests
  • Collection time: April to November
  • Taste: spicy
  • Likelihood of confusion: Poisonous haunch with a smooth, cream-colored to brown stalk as the only distinguishing feature

Mushrooms from V to W

Purple Laccaria amethystina (Laccaria amethystina)

  • Growth habit: 4 to 10 cm high, 2 to 6 cm tall, flat to convex cap
  • Hat color: when wet: intense violet, the drier the paler
  • Stem color: purple, fibrous
  • Lamellae: violet, conspicuously widely spaced
  • Occurrence: deciduous and fir forests as well as in parks
  • Collection time: June to November
  • Taste: rather inconspicuous, but gives mushroom dishes a colorful pizzazz
  • Likelihood of confusion: none, resembles the following edible purple saffron knight
Purple Laccaria amethystina (Laccaria amethystina)

Violet Knightling (Lepista nuda)

  • Growth habit: 5 to 15 cm high, smooth, shiny, convex to funnel-shaped cap, flattened, rolled edge when old
  • Hat color: bright violet, browning with age
  • Stem: violet and bulbous with silvery-white longitudinal fibers
  • Lamellae: violet
  • Occurrence: Beech and spruce forests, sometimes on meadows or on compost heaps
  • Collection time: September to November
  • Likelihood of confusion: none
Violet Knightling (Lepista nuda)

Meadow mushroom (Agaricus campestris)

  • Growth form: 10 cm tall, initially spherical, later flattened cap, similar to the mushrooms in the shop
  • Hat color: gray-brown to white
  • Stem color: white
  • Lamellae: grey-pink, later dark gray to black
  • Occurrence: Meadows, parks, paddocks, nutrient-poor grassland
  • Collection time: May to November
  • Likelihood of confusion: poisonous carbolic mushroom, unpleasant smell, chrome-yellow flesh at the base of the stem; poisonous death cap mushroom with white lamellae
Meadow mushroom (Agaricus campestris)

Winter Beetroot, Velvet Foot Beetroot (Flammulina velutipes)

  • Growth form: Cap 2 to 10 cm wide, thin-fleshed, with a greasy surface
  • Cap color: honey yellow to reddish brown with a dark center
  • Stem: ringless, velvety to felt-like, 3 to 8 cm long, yellow-brown above, dark brown below
  • Lamellae: white to pale yellow
  • Occurrence: on trunks and stumps of living or dead trees
  • Collection time: September to April
  • Taste: delicious edible mushroom
  • Likelihood of confusion: Poisonous haunch with a smooth handle as the most important distinguishing feature
  • Special feature: even grows through a layer of snow
Winter Beetroot, Velvet Foot Beetroot (Flammulina velutipes)

mushroom guide

Mushroom guides minimize the risk of confusion

In addition to the 30 most popular mushrooms presented here, there are numerous other edible and poisonous species of mushrooms in our forests. Hence our recommendation: Equip yourself with further literature in order to clearly identify edible mushrooms. Mushroom guides are available in book form, as an e-book or as a PDF. The following list contains important standard works:

  • Hans Ernst Laux: The great cosmos mushroom guide, published by Franckh Kosmos Verlag, ISBN 978-3-440-12408-6

Probably the most comprehensive identification book for mushrooms describes more than 1,200 species with photos and an uncomplicated identification key. The work is available as a book, e-book and PDF, so mushroom fans can take it with them when collecting.

  • Ewald Gerhard: The big BLV mushroom guide for on the go, published by BLV-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-8354-1663-5

This mushroom guide contains more than 1,200 color pictures and illustrations. All mushrooms were photographed in their natural habitat and are described in detail. The 8th edition was published in February 2022 and is therefore brand new. For beginners there is also the small BLV mushroom guide, ISBN 978-3-8354-1647-5, with 220 illustrations to get to know.

  • Hans W. Kothe: Lexicon of mushrooms, published by KOMET-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-86941-598-7

A compact overview of local mushroom species with 230 edible mushrooms and toadstools. Pin-sharp photos of the natural location facilitate identification with tips on confusion.

  • Jean-Louis Lamaison, Jean-Marie Polese: The Great Mushroom Atlas, published by Ullman Medien, ISBN 978-3842704831

On 240 pages, beginners and advanced users can find out more about 500 local mushrooms using 1,000 photographs. Detailed identification keys facilitate identification in fields and forests.

collected mushrooms for mushroom identification
  • Mushrooms: The big guide, published by Dorling Kindersley, ISBN 978-3831025398

The comprehensive compendium presents more than 450 forest mushrooms in detail with a profile, occurrence, characteristics and much more information. Each mushroom is shown in longitudinal and cross section, as well as in its natural environment. In addition, a graphic identification key helps to quickly and reliably identify the mushrooms that have been collected.

The experts from the German Society for Mycology took a close look at apps for identifying edible mushrooms with information on how to differentiate them from toadstools. The 7 tested apps did not meet the expectations in any way. If you, as an inexperienced mushroom picker, only use this help, you are grossly negligently putting your health at risk.

Mushroom Advisor

Play it safe with a personal mushroom consultant

Don't you want to rely on a written and visual mushroom guide? Then entrust yourself to a knowledgeable, certified expert who will examine the mushrooms you have collected. The German Society for Mycology e.V. offers a search function by postal code on its homepage so that you can find a mushroom expert in your area. The experts take a close look at each mushroom. Therefore, bring your entire mushroom harvest with you to the analysis so that a poisonous specimen does not hide in another basket.

Gather mushrooms in the forest and meadows

Gathering tips

Tips for knowledgeable collecting

Improper transport, storage and preparation are more common causes of mushroom poisoning than the consumption of toadstools. In addition to the specialist literature recommended here and an appointment with a mushroom expert, we would like to recommend the following tips on how to skilfully pick mushrooms.

mushrooms collected in baskets
  • always pick clearly identified mushrooms
  • boil, dry or freeze collected mushrooms immediately
  • Do not eat mushrooms that are too small, maggots or old
  • transport in a basket or a similar airy container - never in airtight foil

Almost all mushrooms are harmful to health if eaten raw. An edible mushroom only keeps what its name promises when it is boiled or steamed.

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