Tips and tricks

What false mushrooms look like

Going into the forest, the mushroom picker should stock up not only with a knife and a basket, but also with knowledge of the characteristic signs by which false mushrooms differ from real ones. If the latter, properly collected and cooked, are edible and tasty, then eating some varieties of their "counterparts" can cause severe poisoning. The ability to distinguish forest mushrooms from false ones can preserve the “mushroom hunting” lover and his loved ones health, and sometimes even life.

General description of false agarics

The first thing that will help you figure out how to distinguish false mushrooms is a photo and a description of their various types.

It is difficult to classify these mushrooms. Their species diversity is widely represented within several families at once (strophariaceous, dung beetles, according to another taxonomy - psatirella).

They are united with edible "brothers" by the season in which they grow, and their habitat - hemp, fallen trees, dead wood, tree roots and trunks.

Due to the similarity of external signs - growth in large groups, convex lamellar caps, thin and long legs, hollow inside - it is at first glance difficult for a non-specialist to determine which mushrooms are in front of him. False mushrooms and "normal", it happens, even grow in the neighborhood on the same stump.

Attention! The first rule of experienced mushroom pickers: "I'm not sure - you can't take it."

If there is even the slightest doubt whether it was possible to correctly recognize: the mushrooms are false or not, it is not worth taking the risk of cutting these mushrooms into your basket. You should not take everything in order to figure it out at home or ask experts. If at least one poisonous mushroom got into the basket, the rest will have to be thrown in - you can no longer eat them.

Are false mushrooms dangerous?

Many varieties of these mushrooms are considered inedible and poisonous - they should not be eaten under any circumstances.

Some species are conditionally edible. After proper processing (soaking, boiling), it is allowed to cook dishes from them.

Important! Even if the mushroom is considered conditionally edible and all the rules of preparation are observed, we must not forget that its safety for the human body has not been proven! The likelihood that false mushrooms can be poisoned still remains!

What edible and false mushrooms look like (photo)

Edible mushrooms and false mushrooms look almost the same.

However, there are a number of differences that make it possible to separate one from the other. Pay attention to the following:

  • the color and shape of the cap;
  • the color of the plates on its wrong side;
  • the presence of scales on the surface;
  • the presence of an annular growth ("skirt") around the stem of the mushroom;
  • smell.

The photo will help you imagine how to distinguish between false mushrooms and edible mushrooms:

False mushrooms, similar to edible

It is necessary to dwell in more detail on the characteristics of the most common types of mushrooms, known as false mushrooms, to give their photos and descriptions.

How to distinguish a gallery bordered from honey agarics

One of the most dangerous types of false mushrooms is the bordered gallery.

Warning! The toxins of the toadstool and the gallerina bordered are identical - eating these mushrooms is life-threatening!

Characteristic features of a bordered gallery:

Edible or not



Small (1–4 cm), bell-shaped, later becomes flat. The color is ocher, brown


Medium, yellowish (turns brown with age)


Thin, dirty yellow, with a faint smell and flour aftertaste


2–5 cm, fibrous, hollow, slightly thickened bottom. There is a yellowish ring


June - October


Rotten pine and spruce wood

How it grows

In groups of 2-3 pcs.

The difference between this type of false honey agarics and real ones will help to present a photo:

Summer honey agaric:

  • larger (cap - up to 6 cm in diameter);
  • grows in large "families";
  • the pulp has a pleasant smell and taste;
  • the leg is covered with scales below.

Autumn honeydew:

  • grows in large bunches;
  • the pulp is thicker;
  • the surface of the stem and cap is covered with scales.

Candol's honeydew

The photo below shows what Candoll's false mushrooms look like:

Edible or not

Conditionally edible


Small (3–7 cm), reminiscent of a bell, in mature it is umbrella-shaped with a ledge in the center. The color varies (from white to yellowish brown). Along the edge of the white "fringe"


Gray, brown over time


Milky brown with a pleasant mushroom scent


About 10 cm. Hollow, white, slightly pubescent underneath.


May - September


Deciduous tree roots, tree stumps

How it grows

Large groups

Psatirella hygrophilous

In this photo, false honey agarics are psatirella, or hygrophilous fragile (hydrophilic, spherical), otherwise known as watery false foam. This species is very common on the territory of Russia.

Edible or not

Conditionally edible (according to other sources - inedible)


Convex, 2–6 cm in diameter. Later it becomes flat. Color - from cream to chocolate


Light (darkens with age), frequent


White-cream color, relatively dense, has no pronounced odor and taste


Hollow, but dense, smooth, 3–8 cm. Light, covered with a mealy bloom. There is a false ring


June - October


On tree remains and stumps

How it grows

In large groups, uniting in bundles

Attention! The color of the spore powder of this fungus is purple, which makes it possible to distinguish it from other similar species.

Poppy honey

An idea of ​​how false mushrooms look can be obtained using the example of poppy, or seroplate.

Important! Although this species is designated as "false", it is classified as an edible mushroom.

Edible or not



Medium (3–7 cm), it can be either hemispheric or extended, with a bulge. Color - from dull yellow to brown


Adherent, light yellow, often located


Pale, thin, smells slightly damp


5-10 cm, sometimes curved, top - yellow, bottom - reddish-brown


Spring - autumn (sometimes even mild winter)


Coniferous forests, stumps and roots covered with earth

How it grows

In bundles

Sulfur-yellow honey mushroom

It is very important for a mushroom picker to keep in mind the description and differences of the false sulfur-yellow mushroom, since this species is not just inedible, but poisonous.

Attention! Even a single specimen of this mushroom, getting into a pot with edible varieties, can ruin the dish and cause severe poisoning!

Edible or not



Small (2–7 cm), bell-shaped, then becomes similar to an umbrella. Color - yellowish with a dirty brown or gray tint, the center is darkened


Adherent. In young mushrooms - sulfur-yellow, then change color to olive or greenish


White or yellow-white. Bitter taste, with an unpleasant odor


10 cm, light yellow, fibrous, straight


June - October


Rotten branches and trunks, the surface of stumps and the area around them

How it grows

Big "families"

Brick red honey mushroom

The photo below of hemp false agarics shows the species known as brick red.

In Europe, this mushroom is not considered edible, but dishes made from it are quite popular in Japan and the United States.

Important! The pulp of this mushroom contains strong toxins. Even knowing how to cook it properly, eating it is risky.

Edible or not

Conditionally edible (but requires long boiling)


Large (from 4 to 12 cm), convex, but becomes flatter with age. Red-brown color (darker in the center)


Yellow, over time - brown, adherent to the leg


Pale yellow, bitter taste


Above is pale yellow, below - brown


August - October


Dead wood

How it grows

By groups

How to distinguish false mushrooms from real ones

A photo and analysis of a certain set of signs will help to learn to distinguish false mushrooms from real ones:

To learn how to distinguish false mushrooms from real ones, the video will help

The appearance of mushrooms

The mushrooms are false and edible, shown in the photo, can be determined correctly if you look closely:

  • the caps of false species are colored more strikingly (in a bright yellow, terracotta-red color), while in edible ones they are relatively modest, mainly of pale brown tones;
  • young edible specimens often have scales on the surface of the cap and stem, while scaly false mushrooms are not found;
  • the plates on the back of the cap in edible species are usually white-yellow or creamy, in false varieties their color is greenish or olive-black;
  • edible mushrooms are characterized by a noticeable leathery ring ("skirt") around the stem, in false ones it is hardly noticeable, or even completely absent.

Here is another photo showing the difference between false agarics and real ones:

How false mushrooms differ from edible mushrooms by smell

To distinguish true mushrooms from false ones, their smell will help:

  • thanks to the essential oils in edible specimens, they smell pleasantly of mushrooms (and the aroma intensifies during the cooking process);
  • the odor of the false species is unpleasant - they smell like mold, damp earth or rotten grass.


False mushrooms taste unpleasant, bitter - however, it is quite natural that they are tasted not raw, but already cooked.

Attention! In the event that bitterness suddenly appears in a finished dish of supposedly edible mushrooms, you should immediately throw it away without regrets and take measures to help avoid poisoning.

Signs of poisoning with false mushrooms

Knowing the signs of poisoning with false mushrooms will help to quickly and competently provide the victim with first aid. Then you should, without wasting time, consult a doctor.

Symptoms of poisoning with false mushrooms

Typical symptoms of poisoning with false mushrooms:

  • the occurrence of heartburn, nausea, discomfort in the stomach;
  • the appearance of dizziness;
  • after a few hours there is lethargy, apathy, weakness increases, the limbs begin to tremble;
  • nausea intensifies, vomiting and diarrhea occur, accompanied by spasms, sharp pains in the abdomen;
  • cold sweat appears, including on the palms and feet;
  • loss of consciousness is possible.

First aid for poisoning with false mushrooms

Symptoms of poisoning with false mushrooms appear after a short period of time (according to various sources, from 1 to 6 hours) after eating mushrooms. During this period, it is important to take emergency measures as soon as possible:

  • rinse the stomach (induce vomiting, after drinking a large amount of clean cold water);
  • ensure the intake of enterosorbents (activated carbon, polysorb, atoxil);
  • organize an abundant drink;
  • seek qualified medical attention.

Important! The main actions in case of poisoning with false agarics are the timely identification of symptoms and treatment, including correctly provided first aid. The sooner the victim gets to the doctor, the more chances he will have for recovery, and the less - the risk of negative consequences for the body.

The consequences of poisoning with false mushrooms

The toxins contained in the juice of these mushrooms enter the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract, and with its current are carried throughout the body.

If the patient does not receive help, this may manifest itself:

  • severe headache and dizziness;
  • a slowdown in the pulse and a drop in blood pressure (sometimes even to critically low values);
  • blue skin;
  • hallucinations, delirium (as a result of prolonged dehydration);
  • alternating periods of inhibition and excitement.

With proper treatment given on time, the victim usually recovers within a few days. The risk of death is small, but it exists - primarily for a child or a weakened body.

Is it possible to eat false mushrooms

It is possible to eat only those species that are conditionally edible. This is considered undesirable, but acceptable, subject to all the subtleties of cooking. First, they are soaked in water for a long time, then boiled thoroughly.

These mushrooms cannot be eaten raw. Moreover, if you eat false mushrooms, which are considered conditionally edible, but cooked incorrectly, it will be dangerous for your health.

How to check false mushrooms when cooking

There is an opinion among mushroom pickers that it is possible to distinguish mushrooms from false ones when cooking. To do this, it is advised to lower the peeled, cut onion or chives into the pan where the mushrooms are boiled. If the roots acquire a blue or brown hue, it means that there are poisonous specimens there.

How else can you check if honey mushrooms are poisonous or not?

In addition to the "folk" method given above, there are some more common tips on how to determine whether a false mushroom is poisonous or not. You can often hear sentences:

  • cut a raw mushroom and rub it on a silver cutlery; if it darkens, there are poisonous substances in the product;
  • dip the dubious mushroom into raw cow's milk - the poison will help it quickly turn sour.

Important! All of these tips are myths and rumors. Trying to determine how mushrooms differ from false mushrooms, one should rely solely on scientific data. Do not trust dubious and untested methods, risking your own health.

There are even more "curious" ideas, which in fact are dangerous delusions:

  1. “If the fungus is eaten by insect larvae, it speaks in favor of the fact that it is not poisonous” is not true. Anything that is not poisonous to insects may well pose a danger to humans.
  2. "If you cook mushrooms for a long time with the addition of vinegar and salt, you can" boil "the poison out of them" - not true. This method is conditionally suitable only for some species, in the fruit bodies of which there are few toxins, in the overwhelming majority of cases it will give nothing.
  3. "Alcohol can help neutralize mushroom poison" is not true. On the contrary, drinking alcohol will help toxins spread much faster!


False mushrooms are mostly inedible, or even poisonous "twins" of ordinary species, found in abundance during the mushroom season. On close examination, false and "normal" mushrooms have a number of differences in the color and structure of the surface of the cap, leg, the presence or absence of a "skirt", the color of the plates and the smell. The mushroom picker should study these features well and be guided by them, and not dubious clues heard "among the people." Just in case, you need to remember how to recognize mushroom poisoning and be able to provide first aid.