Fungi of California


Welcome to the The Fungi of California, a World Wide Web site created and maintained by and . This site describes the higher fungi (mushrooms) found in the state of California, which is on the Pacific (west) coast of the United States of America.

This site started out as the Common Fungi of the Bay Area, grew with the addition of less-common species to Fungi of the Bay Area, and has now expanded to become The Fungi of California.

If you read through the bibliography of this web site, you'll find several field guides that document California fungi. Our intent is not to duplicate or replace these field guides, but to augment them. Because field guides are published books, they have two main drawbacks not shared by a web site: they have limited color photos due to printing costs, and they can't be updated frequently to reflect changes in mycological taxonomy and nomenclature.

The Fungi of California isn't restricted by traditional publishing limitations. We provide one or more (typically many) color photos for each species description. We accompany the photos with a description of the macroscopic and microscopic features of the species along with comments on habitat, edibility, and other pertinent features. We're constantly updating the web site by writing new species descriptions, adding new photos, and revising existing descriptions. (Read "What's New" for a list of recent additions and changes.) And we aren't forced by a publisher to invent common names for mushrooms where no common names exist, a misleading practice that often leads to more confusion than clarity.

When you read the descriptions here, please remember that mushroom identification requires careful keying and description, and is best followed by confirmation by a local expert. If you're identifying mushrooms for the cooking pot, remember that one mistake can be fatal. Don't rely strictly on the descriptions here for your identification. And when in doubt, throw it out!

The Scope of This Site

This site describes the fungi of California. By "fungi" we mean the macrofungi you're most likely to encounter because they're big enough or growing in numbers large enough to see, because they're colorful enough to catch your attention, or because they're fruiting in a habitat where you're likely to encounter them.

The State of California

We have restricted our list of fungi to the state of California -- not a very limited restriction given the size of the state and the variety of its habitats! Those habitats include coastal rain forests, high mountain forests, scrub oaklands, desert both high and low, grasslands wild and domestic, farmlands, landscaped urban areas, and many more.

Estimates vary, but upwards of 3,000 to 4,000 species of fleshy fungi occur in California. If you consider only the common species--those you can find almost every year--the number drops to between 1,000 and 1,500 California species. These species aren't restricted to California. In our experience, many of these fungi also grow throughout much of North America and in other parts of the world with similar climates.

Our Plans

Our goal is to describe all of the California species of macro fungi and provide the best available photos for each species. Of course this in an impossible goal! Future plans include adding generic descriptions, identification keys, and photomicrographs in species descriptions to show microscopic features.

How to Use This Site

This site has many pages. Most of the pages are species descriptions. Before you dive into them, you may want to check out some of the other pages that describe and augment this site:

Species Description Pages

Each species description page has the same structure. The top of the page has these elements, listed here from top to bottom:

The description of the species' features follows. These features vary depending on the kind of mushroom, but they typically include these:

About the Authors

Mike Wood and Fred Stevens are both past presidents of the Mycological Society of San Francisco. Mike is, by profession, a computer consultant. He designed these pages, scanned and produced most of the photos here, and did the HTML editing for each page. Fred is a botanist whose primary mycological interest is the genus Agaricus. He wrote the majority of the species descriptions in this site.

Both Mike and Fred took many of the photos displayed here.

Enjoy these pages and please send any comments or corrections to .