As foragers we will undoubtedly at some point or another dip our toes into the magical kingdom that is fungi , there are some simple edible mushrooms that are easily identifiable and impossible to mistake for others ,
saying that if you can cap your interest at those you are far more controlled than me , you then get into the realms of amateur mycology learning the names of each individual part of a mushroom , learning the layout of gills and the technical terminology associated with them all Taking endless spore prints that are addictive in themselves .
This is not an easy skill to learn the information is vast and complicated and that’s before you even begin to identify a mushroom there is no shortcuts or fast track ways to learn this information time and effort are the only ways to go ,
But I can honestly say even with the huge amount of work needed to become competent in mushroom identification it never seems to be work fungi has a way of grasping at your soul the more you know the more you want to learn and the enthusiasm that I see in first time hunters only seems to grow in all who take up never becoming any less magical than the pixie we all remember perching on top of the fly agaric in our childhood story’s .
Never eat any mushroom that you are not completely certain of its identification.
Never collect young mushrooms the chance of misidentification is greatly increased .
Some mushrooms are listed as edible but contain toxins until cooked , take information from more than one source .
Never collect any mushroom on first identification I use a rule that I identify a mushroom three times before any collection making mental notes of texture , looks and smell .
Just because a mushroom is listed as choice edibility does not mean you will enjoy it , pick sparingly until you have decided .
There are also fungi that are rare as with any living entity these should be treated with the upmost respect here is a list The RED DATA LIST OF THREATENED BRITISH FUNGI
You will also at some point be involved in a age old debate of ‘how to harvest your find ‘ a great read on the subject in a far better post that I could conjure is found here by Mark Williams ( Galloway Wild Foods )
There are a mass of great books on fungi identification I’m not promoting the sale of any but I would like to share ones that I have found to be informative , one note to be aware of is that information on fungi is being updated every year so buying a new book yearly is good practice
Roger Phillips mushrooms
River Cottage no1 mushrooms by John Wright
The encyclopaedia of fungi
By Michael Jordan
Collins fungi guide
Blacks mushroom and fungi guide
My last piece of advice is forays these are the best way to tap into expert knowledge built up over years and a way to put names to mushrooms without question these are offered by nearly all good foraging guides or often held by local groups which are great sources if info
All enthusiasts will endeavour to help you identify your finds but good ones will Not identify as edible or non edible