Mushroom Identification, What to Know Before Collecting Them

The ISU Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic provides mushroom identification* as part of our diagnostic service.  However, most of the specimens we receive are not diagnosable because the specimens arrived without a submission form, or the enclosed form may be missing useful pieces of information relevant to the identification, or the specimen was missing parts, or it suffered in transit.
We have a new submission form (PIDC 45) at the ISU Extension & Outreach Store exclusively for submitting mushrooms for identification.  Detailed instructions for collection and packaging of mushrooms are on the back. See more information on our page Mushroom Identification
Check out our video on how to collect and submit a mushroom sample for identification at
 *The Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic does not make recommendations about the edibility of wild fungi. When consuming wild mushrooms, there are multiple factors that may contribute to a potential poisoning, most of which are beyond the control of the experts who identify a specimen brought into the Clinic. Some edible and deadly poisonous mushroom species are not only similar in appearance but may be found growing together. The toxin content in individual mushrooms may vary, and the effect produced by toxins may vary from person to person. There are toxins in most “edible” species that must be cooked off in order to be safe, and some “edible” species are very toxic when consumed with alcohol (even within a few days). Fungi that are considered edible may cause serious allergic reactions when consumed by some individuals. Additionally, wild fungi often are contaminated with pesticides, pollutants, bacteria, or other decay organisms, which we cannot reliably assess in the Clinic. For these reasons, it is our policy to not recommend edibility of wild fungi.

Mushroom samples in plastic baggies
Mushroom samples submitted for identification. The specimen on the right liquefied in transit, a common problem for several groups of fungi. Take pictures before collecting and shipping to provide key information.


Lina Rodriguez Salamanca Extension Plant Pathologist and Diagnostician

Dr. Lina Rodriguez-Salamanca is an extension plant pathologist and diagnostician with the Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic  (, a member of the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN,&nbsp...

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