Types of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are generally very versatile and can usually be grown in all kinds of different environments. However, each type of mushroom has different growth requirements. Some mushroom types grow best outdoors in prepared ground or logs, than in controlled environments indoors. For other mushroom types, one thing to ponder is the planting and harvesting season. Different mushrooms fruit in different seasons and under different environments. For this reason, it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the different types of mushrooms when planning to grow them. Below is a narrowed down list of common types of edible mushrooms.

Oyster Mushrooms

Alternative Names: Pleurotus, Tree oyster, Angel’s Wings, Abalone Mushroom

Oyster mushrooms, like their name-sake are shaped like oysters. They have smooth shell-like caps with wavy or ruffled edges. These type of mushrooms appear rounded when young but will flatten out and turn up as the mushroom grows. Their caps of usually 5 to 25cm are attached to a short and stubby stem on the sides of trees. Oyster mushrooms are the easiest and most forgiving of all types of mushrooms therefore are highly recommended to the beginner growers. They grow vigorously and can withstand a wide range of temperatures. Oyster mushrooms can be grown on freshly cut hardwood or shredded straw.

Chanterelle Mushrooms

Alternative names: Golden, Yellow, Chanterelle, Egg Mushroom, Girolle, Pfifferling

Chanterelle Mushrooms are funnel-shaped with blunt edged gill-like ridges underneath. Their caps are turned in to resemble the shape of a vase. Chanterelles are usually yellow to yellow-orange in colour but can be red or tan though it is less common, for example the black trumpet which is brownish-black. They’re easily identifiable by their smooth stems which pan out in a trumpet-like manner to form caps. Chanterelle stems are of the same colour as the caps and are a single unit. These type of mushroom grow well in hot to humid weather. They grow singly or in loose groups on the ground.

Maitake Mushrooms

Alternative Names: Hen of the Woods, sheepshead mushroom, ram’s head, kumotake, dancing mushroom

This mushroom type closely resembles a large, ruffled chicken hence the name ‘Hen of the Woods.’ It grows as a bouquet of greyish-brown, fan-shaped, overlapping caps, with short off-centre stems branching from a single thick base. Caps are smooth with a velvety texture and are usually greyish on top and white-cream underneath. These are the types of mushrooms that grow as a single large circular cluster at or near the base of trees. In an ideal temperature and environment, a single clump of Maitake mushrooms can grow to an enormous size.


Morel Mushrooms

Alternative Names: Morchella

Morels are easily identified by their honey-comb or sponge-like appearance. They have a conical elongated cap with brownish-black ridges and yellowish brown pits. Morel stems are hollow and usually enlarged at the bottom. They are often found scattered separately. This mushroom type is commonly found around trees that have recently died, ash trees, and apple trees. They can also be found in moist woodlands and in river bottoms. Morels favour spring to early summer season.

The Puffballs

Alternative Names: Lycoperdon and Calvatia

These pear-shaped or spherical types of mushrooms are almost always whitish in colour and may not have a stalk-like base. Depending on their size, Puffballs can be mistaken at a distance for golf balls. When mature, the skin is bronzed and cracked and the interior changes to a mass of dark, powdery spores. They can grow individually or groups in open grassy fields and decaying wood.

Sulfur Shelf Mushrooms

Alternative Names: Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus

These are one of the easiest types of mushrooms to spot. They have large bright orange caps that range from wavy to flat and shelf-like. The Sulfur Shelf always grow on wood, usually in large masses of overlapping caps which are directly attached to the wood. As they mature, they fade to a peachy colour. This mushroom type is found on dead or dying hardwood trees, stumps, buried roots, or living trees. It thrives during summer and fall.

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Alternative Names: Bearded Tooth, Hericium Erinaceus, Hedgehog Mushroom

This type of mushroom can be described as a clumps of hanging white ‘fur’ growing from a central base. It is pure white when fresh and young, but yellows with age. The Lion’s Mane may grow as large as a foot across. Its size and whiteness make it easy to spot against the dark logs on which it grows. It is found growing on trunks of living hardwood trees and on fallen trees and logs during late summer and fall.

Enoki Mushrooms

Alternative Names: Enokitake, enokidake, futu, winter mushrooms, winter fungus

These are spaghetti-like type of mushrooms. They have long, thin stems and small, shiny white caps. Enoki mushrooms can be grown in jars as they are very compact thus require limited space.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Alternative Names: Shitake, black forest, black winter, brown oak, Chinese black, black mushroom, oriental black, forest mushroom, golden oak, Donko.

Shiitake mushrooms are umbrella-shaped with brown caps which curl slightly under.  Shiitake begin their lives with dark brown to black caps, which become lighter brown and more convex with age. The stem of the mushroom is smooth, fibrous, and light brown.

Button, Cremini and Portobello Mushrooms

These type of mushroom fall under the same species. They are umbrella-shaped and are differentiated by the amount of time they are allowed to grow before the harvesting period.

Button Mushrooms

Alternate names:  Able Mushroom, Cultivated Mushroom, White, Table Mushroom, And Champignon Mushroom.


Button Mushrooms are immature type of this mushroom variety. They are not given ample time to grow hence their small stature. Their colour ranges between creamy white to light brown.

Cremini Mushrooms

Alternate names: Baby bellas, golden Italian mushrooms, Roman, classic brown, Italian brown, brown mushrooms, Swiss brown mushroom


As Button Mushrooms get bigger, they develop a light shade of brown and are classified as Cremini Mushrooms. They are given a little more growing period before being harvested. Cremini are similar to the Button mushroom type, but are slightly bigger in size and darker in colour.

Portobello Mushrooms

Alternate Names: Portobella, field mushroom, open cap mushroom


These are fully grown. They are given a longer growing period hence are bigger than the other two types of mushrooms.  Mushrooms of this type can be as wide as the palm of a human hand.


It is important to note that there are over a thousand mushrooms, some of which are poisonous.  Some dangerous types of mushrooms resemble edible ones therefore prior to hunting or growing mushrooms, learn more about them.