Merck Manual

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Physical Characteristics of Common Poisonous Mushrooms

Physical Characteristics of Common Poisonous Mushrooms

Genus and Species

Color of Cap/Spores




Amanita muscaria

Red-tan to yellow/orange/ white

Ground-pine, spruce, birch, poplar, and oak trees

Autumn/winter: June–Nov

Widespread, common in East and California

A pantherina

White with whitish patches; dark to yellow-brown/white at margin

Ground under conifers (Douglas fir)

Autumn/winter: June, Sept–Oct, Nov–Feb (California)

Rocky Mountains/West coast; rare in East

A phalloides

Yellow/green or green/white

Ground under conifers, hardwoods; junipers and oaks

Autumn: late Sept–Nov, Nov–Jan

Massachusetts to Virginia west to Ohio; Pacific northwest to California

A virosa


Ground; mixed woods; grass, near trees

Autumn: late June–early Nov

North America

Chlorophyllum molybdites

White/green or grayish white

Lawn, pastures, meadows, fairy rings

Summer: Aug–Sept

Florida to California, common in Denver, reported in New York and New Jersey

Clitocybe spp




Widespread in North America

Cortinarius orellanus


Ground under conifers

July–Aug; Sept–Oct (Rocky Mountains)

Widespread in North America

Galerina spp


Ground-wood, well-decayed conifers and logs

Autumn/spring: Oct–Nov, May–June

Throughout North America

Gyromitra esculenta

Brown-rust/yellow to buff

Ground under conifers

Spring: April–early June

Throughout North America

Inocybe spp

Brown/bright rust/orange-brown or dull gray-brown


Autumn: May–Nov

Widespread in North America

Lepiota spp

White with brownish scales/white

Ground conifers, grass, leaf litter, oak and mixed woods

July–Oct (Michigan, Ohio); July–Nov (Florida); Nov–Feb (California)

Throughout North America

Paxillus involutus

Brown/sienna (clay-brown)

Ground: single/numerous on wood in mixed woods


Widespread in North America

Psilocybe cubensis

Brown/lilac brown to dark purple brown

Ground/wood/dung (cattle, horses)

Year round

Gulf Coast

Russula emetica

Reddish/white to yellowish white/whitish

Single/group; on sphagnum moss, rarely on very rotten wood, conifers, or mixed woods


Widespread in North America