Edible or Poisonous?
The first question most people want answered about a mushroom is "Is it poisonous?" followed closely by "Can I eat it?"
The first rule for those who choose to eat wild mushrooms is "When in doubt, throw it out."
The fact is that there are many excellent edible wild mushrooms that almost anyone can learn to identify. There are also deadly poisonous species that every collector should be familiar with.
However, there are no simple rules that can reliably tell you which mushrooms are poisonous and which are edible. The only way to safely collect wild mushrooms is to be familiar with the characteristics of the species you wish to collect. The best way to learn these characteristics is to go collecting with experts who can teach them to you. LAMS hosts several mushroom forays where beginners can start.
Beginners should never rely solely on their own identifications to identify edible mushrooms based on any field guide - especially ones that only provide photographs and brief descriptions. If you have found some mushrooms and wish to get them identified see our contact page. Also check our recommended reading page for various websites, books, and journals that can help you learn to identify mushrooms.