Welcome to the The Fungi of California, a World Wide Web site created and maintained by and . This site describes the higher fungi (mushrooms) found in the state of California, which is on the Pacific (west) coast of the United States of America.
This site started out as the Common Fungi of the Bay Area, grew with the addition of less-common species to Fungi of the Bay Area, and has now expanded to become The Fungi of California.
If you read through the bibliography of this web site, you'll find several field guides that document California fungi. Our intent is not to duplicate or replace these field guides, but to augment them. Because field guides are published books, they have two main drawbacks not shared by a web site: they have limited color photos due to printing costs, and they can't be updated frequently to reflect changes in mycological taxonomy and nomenclature.
The Fungi of California isn't restricted by traditional publishing limitations. We provide one or more (typically many) color photos for each species description. We accompany the photos with a description of the macroscopic and microscopic features of the species along with comments on habitat, edibility, and other pertinent features. We're constantly updating the web site by writing new species descriptions, adding new photos, and revising existing descriptions. (Read "What's New" for a list of recent additions and changes.) And we aren't forced by a publisher to invent common names for mushrooms where no common names exist, a misleading practice that often leads to more confusion than clarity.
When you read the descriptions here, please remember that mushroom identification requires careful keying and description, and is best followed by confirmation by a local expert. If you're identifying mushrooms for the cooking pot, remember that one mistake can be fatal. Don't rely strictly on the descriptions here for your identification. And when in doubt, throw it out!
The Scope of This Site
This site describes the fungi of California. By "fungi" we mean the macrofungi you're most likely to encounter because they're big enough or growing in numbers large enough to see, because they're colorful enough to catch your attention, or because they're fruiting in a habitat where you're likely to encounter them.
The State of California
We have restricted our list of fungi to the state of California -- not a very limited restriction given the size of the state and the variety of its habitats! Those habitats include coastal rain forests, high mountain forests, scrub oaklands, desert both high and low, grasslands wild and domestic, farmlands, landscaped urban areas, and many more.
Estimates vary, but upwards of 3,000 to 4,000 species of fleshy fungi occur in California. If you consider only the common species--those you can find almost every year--the number drops to between 1,000 and 1,500 California species. These species aren't restricted to California. In our experience, many of these fungi also grow throughout much of North America and in other parts of the world with similar climates.
Our goal is to describe all of the California species of macro fungi and provide the best available photos for each species. Of course this in an impossible goal! Future plans include adding generic descriptions, identification keys, and photomicrographs in species descriptions to show microscopic features.
How to Use This Site
This site has many pages. Most of the pages are species descriptions. Before you dive into them, you may want to check out some of the other pages that describe and augment this site:
- The Notices page gives important information about photo viewing, recommended browsers, mushroom edibility, and copyright information.
- The Acknowledgments page includes our site dedication and the names of the photographers that contributed to this project.
- The Glossary has definitions of the terms used here.
- The Bibliography has a list of useful mushroom books.
- The Species Index page lists California fungi species alphabetically by both scientific name and common name (when a true common name exists). The species index links you to the page of each described mushroom.
Species Description Pages
Each species description page has the same structure. The top of the page has these elements, listed here from top to bottom:
- Scientific name. The top of the page gives the genus and species name of the mushroom.
- Species photo. A color photo shows a typical specimen (or specimens) of the mushroom. If the photo has a border around it, you may click on the photo for a larger, higher resolution version. Keep in mind that the larger photo have file sizes of about 100-270 KB.
- Citation. The scientific name again, this time followed by a citation of the mycologist(s) who first described the species along with the publication where they described it.
- Common Name. The common name (or names) if there are any for the mushroom. We don't list a common name unless it's truly in common use and is not just a made-up name.
- Synonym. Other scientific name given to this same mushroom type. Note that this isn't the same as a missapplied name -- a scientific name previously used to describe this type of mushroom that was later found to be incorrect.
The description of the species' features follows. These features vary depending on the kind of mushroom, but they typically include these:
- Pileus. A description of the mushroom's cap.
- Lamellae. A description of the mushroom's gills.
- Stipe.A description of the mushroom's stem.
- Spores. A microscopic description of the spores produced by the mushroom along with the color of the mushroom's spore print. A spore print is an accumulation of spores that is visible to the naked eye.
- Habitat. Where and when you're most likely to find fruitings of this mushroom: its environment, plant associates, and most fruitful time of year.
- Edibility. Comments on edibility, with icons that identify deadly poisonous and delectable edible species. It's important to realize that commonly edible mushrooms aren't edible by all people--some people have violent allergic reactions to them. Always try a new mushroom in very small portions the first time you eat it. And if you can't positively identify a mushroom, don't eat it!
- Comments. General comments about the mushroom.
- References. References to good, mainly technical, descriptions in the literature of the species. Also included is reference to the protologue and other important information.
- Other Descriptions and Photos. A list of links and references to other photos and descriptions of this species. Each list item starts with the name of the photographer or author and includes a code in parentheses that describes the type of reference: CP for color photo; P for photo; I for illustration; D for description. If a list item is in boldface, it's an internal link to another page in The Fungi of California or MykoWeb. If you see a "High Res Photo" icon (), you can click on the icon to get a larger version of the photograph. Keep in mind that the larger photo have file sizes of about 200-500 KB. There are also many references to photographs and descriptions in popular mushroom books listed in the bibliography.
About the Authors
Mike Wood and Fred Stevens are both past presidents of the Mycological Society of San Francisco. Mike is, by profession, a computer consultant. He designed these pages, scanned and produced most of the photos here, and did the HTML editing for each page. Fred is a botanist whose primary mycological interest is the genus Agaricus. He wrote the majority of the species descriptions in this site.
Both Mike and Fred took many of the photos displayed here.
Enjoy these pages and please send any comments or corrections to .