Mushroom Morphology

Morphology refers to the form and structure of a fungal fruiting body. Understanding the various characteristics and anatomy of a mushroom will aid in accurate identification.

Anatomy of a Typical Mushroom

Mushroom Anatomy

Mushroom Cap (Pileus)

The pileus exhibits numerous attributes that aid in identification. Here of some of the unique features to observe:

  • Color / Pattern
  • Height / Width
  • Maturity / Age
  • Viscosity
  • Flesh / Tissue Color
  • Odor
  • Taste (not for novices)

Taste can be an identifying feature. However, there are techniques for tasting a mushroom without ingesting it. Do not taste any mushroom without proper instruction. You could become very ill or worse.

Gills (Lamellae)

Spores develop on the tissue of the lamellae known as the hymenium. The lamellae reveal many identifying characteristics, such as:

  • Width & Thickness
  • Edges (bottom)
  • Color
  • Spore Print (color)
  • Unique Formation

Stem (Stipe)

The stipe supports the pileus and increases the mushroom's height so spores can disperse in a wider radius. Below are some of the characteristics to consider when documenting the stipe:

  • Shape
  • Surface Texture
  • Color
  • Durability
  • Interior
  • Orientation
  • Volva
  • Bulb

Veils (Universal and Partial)

A membrane protects many species of mushrooms during development. The universal veil surrounds the fungi during the primordium stage, and the partial veil protects the hymenium before spore dispersal. Sometimes the partial veil will leave a ring on the stipe called an annulus. The appearance of the veils can help with identification.

Veils and Annulus


Even the mycelium has identifying traits such as color and texture.