10 Difference Between Mushroom And Toadstool (With Identification Guide)

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Mushroom

Mushroom can be described as a fungal growth that typically takes the form of a domed cap on a stalk, with gills on the underside of the Cap. Although these typically above-ground structures are the most conspicuous to humans, they make up only a small portion of the entire fungal body. Mushrooms are generally edible and have been eaten and used as medicine for thousands of years. All varieties of mushrooms are low in calories and fat and contain modest amounts of fiber and various nutrients.

Mushroom

While the term mushroom is often associated with fungi that have a stem (stipe or stalk), a cap (pileus) and gills (lamella, the papery ribs under the cap of a mushroom), the term can refer to a wide variety of gilled fungi with or without stems and more generally any fruiting body.

Mushrooms form from a small structure referred to as a primordium which grows on some type of substrate. The primordium enlarges into an egg-shaped structure composed of hyphae referred to as a ‘’button’’. Mycelium, called the universal veil, surrounds the button initially. As the button grows, the veil breaks. Remnants of the veil on mature mushrooms often appear as warts or may be found hanging from the cap.

Mushrooms vary in appearance with more than 500 known types, but generally they are distinguished by a stem, fleshy rounded cap and gills underneath the cap. Many species of mushrooms seemingly appear overnight, growing or expanding rapidly. In actuality, not all mushrooms expand overnight; some grow very slowly and add tissue to their fruiting body by growing from the edges of the colony or by inserting hyphae.

Mushrooms species are distributed throughout the world, some very specific to certain geographical areas, while others are universal and may occur in different seasons in the same region. Temperature plays a critical role in the distribution of mushroom species and so their distribution can be categorized under tropical, subtropical and temperate belts.

Mushroom

Facts About Mushroom

  • Mushroom can be described as a fungal growth that typically takes the form of a domed cap on a stalk, with gills on the underside of the Cap.
  • True mushrooms are usually found growing in open paddocks or lawns and not under trees or shrubs like toadstools.
  • The upper part of a mushroom called the ‘cap’ should be smooth and more or less white with no conspicuous raised scales or warts. Toadstools, for example the dangerous fly agaric (Amanita muscaria), will often have a different coloured cap which has scales and raised lumps on it. The fly agaric is red with white spots.
  • The cap of a true mushroom pulls away from the stem as it grows leaving a ring of tissue around the stem. If you can’t find a ring of tissue around the stem, it’s not a true mushroom.
  • The undersurface of the cap of a true mushroom is covered with narrow flanges called ‘gills’. In a young mushroom these are pink. As the mushroom matures they turn brown to almost black. Toadstools or poisonous mushrooms have gills that remain white throughout their entire life cycle.
  • The gills of a true mushroom are attached to the cap and not to the stalk so when the stalk is removed from its base, the gills stay attached to the cap. If the gills stay attached to the stalk then it is not a true mushroom.
  • The base of the stem of a true mushroom is narrower or at least no thicker than the rest of the stalk while most of the poisonous mushrooms and toadstools have a noticeably swollen base.  
  • Types of mushrooms include: Cremini mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, porcini mushroom, hedgehog mushrooms, button mushrooms, giant puffball mushroom, lion’s mane mushrooms

Toadstool

Toadstool can be describe as a spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically in the form of a round cap on a stalk, especially one that is believed to be inedible or poisonous. Some toadstool species grow above dead tree roots or buried scraps of lumber or other wood. The term ‘’toadstool’’ has often but not exclusively been applied to poisonous or inedible mushrooms, but has also been applied to those mushrooms that are edible and have the classic umbrella-like cap-and-stem form.

Toadstool

The greater part of the toadstool is made up of the cap and the stem. The stem supports the cap and may be long and slender or thick and rounded, according to the species. The surface of the cap may be moist and sticky or covered by a dry skin. The young toadstool has a membrane stretched from the edge of the cap to the stem, covering the gills. As growth proceeds, this is torn and remains as a ring round the stem. Some kinds have a second membrane, the volva, which encloses the whole of the young toadstool; this is also torn when growth is complete.

The reproduction of Toadstool is quite different from that of the flowering plants, in which the ovules are fertilized by pollen grain and seeds are produced. Typically, Toadstools typically release spores from the gills on the bottoms of their caps. They are like fine grains of dust, much smaller than any seeds, and a single toadstool produces millions of them. The winds blow the spores, scattering them everywhere. If they fall on suitable ground the spores germinate. They grow into a filament called the primary mycelium, consisting of a chain of cells set end to end. The filaments send out branches and also join and fuse together and the secondary mycelium is formed. The mycelium forms a network under the ground and later grows up to form a new toadstool.

Toadstool

Facts  About Toadstool

  • Toadstool can be describe as a spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically in the form of a round cap on a stalk, especially one that is believed to be inedible or poisonous.
  • Probably have white gills, a skirt or ring on the stem and a bulbous or sack-like base and their cap or stem can be red or cream-yellow in color.
  • Toadstools are inedible and generally poisonous
  • Example of a toadstool is Amanita muscaria, Lactarius deliciosus, Leccinum aurantiacum, Stropharia aeruginosa and Lactarius torminosus.  
  • Toadstool with a red color on the cap or stem are normally either poisonous or strongly hallucinogenic.

Also Read: Difference Between Taproot And Fibrous Root

Difference Between Mushroom And Toadstool In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON MUSHROOM TOADSTOOL
Description Mushroom can be described as a fungal growth that typically takes the form of a domed cap on a stalk, with gills on the underside of the Cap.   Toadstool can be describe as a spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically in the form of a round cap on a stalk, especially one that is believed to be inedible or poisonous.  
Main Feature The cap of a mushroom can be peeled and normally, they grow on wood.   Probably have white gills, a skirt or ring on the stem and a bulbous or sack-like base and their cap or stem can be red or cream-yellow in color.  
Growth Mushrooms are usually found growing in open paddocks or lawns and not under trees or shrubs like toadstools.   Most toadstool species grow above dead tree roots or buried scraps of lumber or other wood.  
Edibility Mushrooms are mainly edible and are not poisonous.   Toadstools are inedible and generally poisonous.  
Types Cremini mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, porcini mushroom, hedgehog mushrooms, button mushrooms, giant puffball mushroom, lion’s mane mushrooms, Agaricus bisporus. Amanita muscaria, Lactarius deliciosus, Leccinum aurantiacum, Stropharia aeruginosa and Lactarius torminosus.    
Color Their cap or stem can be white, brown or dark-brown. Their cap or stem can be red or cream-yellow, green, blue in color.
Medicinal Use Mushrooms have medicinal value. Toadstool do not have medicinal value, they are generally poisonous.

Also Read: Difference Between Monera, Protista And Fungi

Mushroom Identification Guide

As explained above, there are a number of species of mushroom that are poisonous and although some resemble certain edible species, eating them could be fat. Eating mushrooms gathered in the wild is risky and should not be undertaken by individuals unknowledgeable in mushroom identification, unless the individual limit themselves to a small number of good edible species that are visually distinctive. More generally and particularly with gilled mushrooms, separating edible from poisonous species requires meticulous attention to detail; there is no single trait by which all toxic mushrooms can be identified, nor one by which all mushrooms can be identified. To effectively identify edible, non-toxic mushroom, try to observe the following guide:

  1. Substrate: Where is the mushroom growing? Identify where and on what the mushroom is grows. Check if it grows in grassland, on old logs, wood chips, directly on soil, on animal dung, on tree or under a tree.
  2. Body Shape: The mushroom’s body often determines its species. Note whether the mushroom has a cap at a 90-degree angle to the stalk, looks like a flower or a big round ball.
  3. Cap Size: What is the size, shape, texture and color of the cap? The cap is the part at the top of the stalk which looks like a hat or an umbrella is the cap. Note its width, shape and color.
  4. Cap Color: What is the size, shape, texture and color of the cap? The stem is the pillar-like column on which the cap sits. Check for stripes, striations or other identifying feature such as rings or bulbous protrusions. Is the base bulbous or sack like or narrow and rooting?
  5. Underside Of Cap: The underside of the cap may contain pores, spines, gill-like ridges or tubes. Note distinctive features such as spacing, color and stripe attachment. Also check for a veil that covers the gills beneath the cap.
  6. Flesh Texture: What texture is the flesh?
  7. Smell: Does the mushroom have a distinct smell/
  8. Season: What time of the year is it? Mushrooms grow at different times of the year. Verifying when the mushroom grows can go a long way to determine whether they are edible or not.

How To Identify Poisonous Mushroom

  • Mushrooms with white gills are often poisonous. The gills are the spore-producing part of the mushroom. They are usually present on the underside of the cap and may be ribbed or consist a large number of small holes.
  • The presence of a volva especially one with a ring around it, is often an indication that the species is poisonous. The volva is the bulging section at the base of the stem. Because the volva is often underground, it’s important to dig around the base of a mushroom to look for it.
  • Mushrooms with a red, blue or green color on the cup or stem are also either poisonous or strongly hallucinogenic.