Layman's guide to fungus orders/families

Ok, I did my best at posting. I had a hard time. I cant seem to mange the questions and kept loosing my pictures. The location is very difficult to control…Id move the red ring and kept falling in the pacific!

I know this is not right. I will have to make a bunch of mistakes or give up!

I have a small library of field guides and I use them a lot. My LOCAL mushroom guide is usually what I start with because of the illustrations and photos combined with taxonomic characteristics, habitat, edibility (or toxicity), and notes on similar species, all on just one or two pages. And a local guide keeps the possibilities from becoming overwhelming.
Really, I value all my print field guides for these same reasons. As an old-school boomer who received my first Peterson’s Field Guide to Birds when I was a kid and now living and often traveling in places where broadband is limited or nonexistent, they’re invaluable for first- or even 2nd-order identification.
And no, I don’t travel with all those books, especially in the backcountry! But digital cameras and cell phones let me take a variety of photos that I can later compare with the field guides.


Adding to my comment on the value of field guides: here in the U.S., national and state parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands are great sources of field guides and natural history books! Many visitor centers, large and small, have shops that are run by not-for-profit natural history associations, which plow a portion of their proceeds back into educational programs and products. Many of these places also offer hikes and presentations on local flora and fauna. A great way to get started in a new area.

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Thank you for describing them. That isn’t very many of the Russulas being observed, but it’s nice to be able to say something besides just Brittlegills.

I was helping with IDs last night and came to some Russulas that I think were Virescentinae. A previous commentator had said,

This is part of the push described here to fix the Computer Vision Machine Learning that only suggest things that look like species that are named on here. If we eliminate the species named from geographically segregate species we might get more local suggestions on here at least.

…which sounds nice, but then that same commentator would not venture to suggest a more geographically appropriate species. How can we – as they said – “get more local suggestions on here” unless we first suggest some?

Anyway, I went ahead and put Virescentinae for the observation in question.

I think with fungi observations, outside of a few VERY well known species that have very well known ranges, geographic ranges are a bit rough anyway. There’s too many where the species lines are very blurry, and a lot where its hard to tell if its, say, a circumboreal species or one that’s only in Europe and the American species is distinct.

I need to get better at Russula sections, its probably the next thing I’m going to tackle after getting more comfy with the Amanita (outside of, you know, species I see constantly.) If I see something all the time its really easy for it to stick in my brain, but stuff I don’t see as often is rougher because there’s only so much info you can glean from looking at pictures - you’re missing out on different angles, odor, taste, texture, etc.

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So I actually ran across a paper today that shed a little bit of light on to why the state of Russula in the eastern US is such a mess. Here’s the link to it -

But basically, the only experts on Russula in the eastern US all either died or retired between 1994-2003; mind this paper was published in 2007 but as far as I’m aware, no one has really taken their place (I’m sure there’s someone I’m certainly not aware of everyone. Or even an expert. Just doing my best)

Basically, there’s a huge void.

Anyway, thought I’d share that chunk of insight. Also, the link to Buyck’s website, because it seems to be a good Russula resource


The frustrating part is that they stayed around just long enough to tell us that everything in our North American field guides is actually strictly European, but not long enough to tell us what names to use instead. It seems like a job only half-done.

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I mean… everyone is doing their best with what the have. Hopefully we’ll see larger papers on Russulaceae come out soon


If you’re still having trouble, please DM me. I would be happy to help you out. I love iNat, but I didn’t find it newbie-intuitive either.

Well, I haven’t found any such key for Russula yet, but I wanted to share with everyone that I did find one for North American boletaceae: The Bolete Filter. I should warn you that the links under “An Overview of the Filters” will return 404 errors; but you can use the filters by choosing from the “Region” tab at the top of the page.