A short post on mushrooms and toadstools

Mushrooms 1

WordPress, which is the platform I use to host my blog, offers a new word each day as a basis for a blog post. I guess it’s ideal for people who can’t think what to write about since the word always triggers some kind of thought process. Just as I have no trouble thinking of what to talk about,  I generally have no trouble in deciding on a writing subject. However, one of the recently suggested words was fungus and this prompted thoughts of some photographs I’ve taken recently. I’ve never had any particular interest in fungi (apart from eating it) so it was quite a coincidence that I sacame across three examples in a very short space of time.

A question for you: what’s the difference between a toadstool and a mushroom? I asked myself this but couldn’t come up with an answer. I did a little research and discovered that whilst ‘toadstool’ is generally used to describe poisonous or inedible fungi, there is actually no scientific difference and that the terms are interchangeable. Dictionary definitions don’t help a lot.

  • Mushroom: a type of fungus, usually shaped like an umbrella, many of which are edible.
  • Toadstool: any of several mushroom-like fungus, some of which are poisonous.

The picture at the top of this post is of Hairy Stereum and was taken a few weeks ago in my neighbour’s garden. These are just two of a number of clusters. He got rid of them once and was very annoyed by their return (and bemused by the fact that I described them as ‘fascinating’ and asked if I could photograph them). This particular variety grows on dead wood. They are right on the site of an old tree stump.  Some years ago I remember a fairy-ring appearing. I wish I’d photographed it but who knew back then that I would one day write a blog post on the subject?

This tiny specimen was found in Devon right outside the door or the holiday lodge we stayed in. I am unable to identify it from pictures, though it might possibly be a Porcellain Fungus. 


And these, my favourite,  were found in a wooded area to the side of the car park at the Berry Head hotel in Brixham. A trawl through Collins Complete British Wildlife identifies them as Shaggy Ink Cap.

Mushrooms 3

Personally I would be too cautious to eat mushrooms (or toadstools) which I found in a field or a wood so mine tend to come from Tesco which I’ve found to stock the widest selection of  ‘interesting’ varieties.

One of my favourite snacks is mixed mushrooms with Stilton and walnuts on toasted sourdough/ciabatta/nice crusty bread. It is very simple: Fry the mushrooms, place on top of toasted bread, sprinkle with Stilton and walnuts and grill. I’ve even served this as a starter at dinner for friends and it’s gone down very well.


  1. You shared some fascinating pictures of this species. I too only eat commercially grown mushrooms. I would be scared to do otherwise. But, I enjoy looking at them because they’re so unique. My best to you, Pat


    • Thank you for your interest, Pat. I think we all in agreement about not trusting ourselves to choose the right wild mushrooms!


  2. I also receive the WordPress prompt for the day and I think I have used one, once. Always useful to know they’re available as a backup! I love mushrooms but I’m not brave enough to forage for them. Mushroom picking is very popular in France and if you want verification about the safety of your mushrooms, you can just pop in to the local pharmacie and the pharmacist will tell you!


  3. We went on a fungi-foray a few years back- led by an expert. First thing he told us was about another expert who had died from a mistake in identification – kind of put me off!


    • How awful. I was thinking that the only way I would ever eat wild ones was if guided by an expert. I am now put off too! I think I will be sticking to commercially grown ones.


  4. I’m not all that fond of mushrooms, Eloise, apart from the occasional mushroom soup, and I think some of them look quite sinister, but a very interesting post, and i’d not even considered the difference between mushrooms and toadstools before!
    Margaret P


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