Los Angeles Mycological Society

Procedure for

Requesting Mushroom Identification


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Every year, and especially during the mushroom season, the Los Angeles Mycological Society (LAMS) receives requests to identify mushrooms found by the public.  To respond to this need LAMS members have volunteered to identify these mushrooms.  This service is available to the public without charge, subject to the terms set forth below.  In order to be able to offer this service, and avoid incurring liability to LAMS and individual identifiers, persons submitting identification requests MUST read and agree to the following Terms of Identification Service.

IMPORTANT: In cases of suspected mushroom poisoning you should immediately call the California Poison Control System, 1-800-222-1222.  If symptoms are evident, you should transport the patient to the nearest hospital emergency room without delay.  Taking fresh, uncooked specimens (or at least photographs of fresh specimens) along with the patient will help medical personnel identify your finds and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Email address for submitting identification requests BELOW--requests sent to other addresses will be refused!

Terms of Identification Service  


1. Purpose of Service: The service is offered to the public at no charge in order to further the goals of LAMS, namely expanding public appreciation and knowledge of mushrooms and fungi and their role in the environment and in human culture.  Individuals submitting either specimens or documentary evidence of specimens for identification hereby affirm that no monetary value is assigned by either party nor is any contract created in the exchange of information.

2. Limitations of Service: The service is offered with the understanding that identification is being made by amateurs whose sole qualification is long experience with mushrooms and fungi, particularly those of Southern California.  The identifiers do not possess a degree or certification in Mycology from an accredited university.  As such, any identification made has no legal or regulatory standing.  If you require such services you will be referred to a professional mycological consultant.

3. Scope of Service: A reasonable effort will be made to insure that identifications conform to the current state of knowledge in the science of Mycology.  However, these identifications are exclusively based on visual examination of photographs, specimens, or other evidence supplied by the requesting party.  We are not able to offer identification employing advanced laboratory equipment and methods such as microscopy, or chemical or genetic analysis.  We are also not equipped or qualified to identify mushrooms from cooked fragments or from specimens retrieved from the digestive systems of humans or animals.  Identifications provided apply ONLY to specimens portrayed in the photographs submitted.  Specimens appearing later in the same or similar locations may be different.  All identifications made are provided WITHOUT WARRANTY, either express or implied.  The persons provided with such identifications assume ALL responsibility for how the information provided is used.

4. No Identification for commercial sale: Identification requests will NOT be considered if it is apparent, or may reasonably be inferred, that the request is being made by someone who intends to sell the mushrooms or other fungi to the public in any form, or for any use including, but not limited to, food or medicine.  You MUST obtain the services of a professional mycological consultant.

5. No Identification for businesses or institutions: Identification requests will NOT be considered if it is apparent, or may reasonably be inferred, that the request is being made by a farm, nursery, golf course, business or institution of any kind as a consequence of their professional activities.  You MUST obtain the services of a professional mycological consultant.

6. Service for medical or veterinary professionals: Identification requests from medical or veterinary professionals will be considered, subject to acknowledgement of the limitations set forth in paragraphs 2 & 3 above.  In no case will treatment recommendations be offered.  We do ask you to consider becoming a LAMS member.  At $25 per year it is less than ANY of your professional journals or society memberships.  It is also tax deductible.

7. Written descriptions not acceptable: Please do not request an identification on the basis of a written description alone.  Such descriptions seldom contain sufficient information to be diagnostic.

8. Poor quality images not acceptable: Identification requests will not be considered if the photographs or other information supplied are of such poor quality as to make reliable identification difficult or impossible.  See guidelines below on submitting photographs for identification purposes.

9. No site visits or telephone calls: We are not able to travel to your home or other location to inspect the mushrooms that you have found.  In almost every case, a reliable identification can be made by email.  Also, please do not send an email with your phone number and a request to have someone call you for additional information.  In virtually every case, documentary information accompanying digital photos can be included in an email, avoiding annoying episodes of “telephone tag”.  Refer to the guidelines below for submitting information to accompany photographs.  Very rarely, in the event that you have found something rare or particularly interesting, we may ask for detailed directions in order to examine the specimens in habitat.

10. In-person identification recommended for edibles: If you want to eat the mushrooms you have found, or serve them to others, it is strongly recommended that you bring them to a LAMS meeting or foray for a visual inspection and confirmation of the identification.

11. No Identification of structural timber fungi: We are unable to provide identification or treatment recommendations for fungal infestation of structural timber.  In California, identification and treatment of wood destroying organisms, including fungi, is regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Structural Pest Control Board.  We do not have the appropriate training or licenses to practice in this field. You MUST consult a qualified professional.

12. Limited Identification of plant pests/pathogens: When identification of fungal pests or pathogens of trees, shrubs or other plants is requested we may at our discretion offer an identification, if one can be made.  However, you must consult a certified arborist or plant pathologist to confirm the identification and make treatment recommendations.

13. Spamming of identification requests not acceptable: Please do not submit your identification request to multiple organizations or individuals.  This causes needless duplication of effort and is disrespectful of the time of volunteer identifiers.  We subscribe to several mycological society email lists and "scattershot" requests of this kind are quickly apparent.  Submission of multiple identical requests for identification will be considered grounds for denial of the request by us.  If we are unable to identify your specimen(s) your request will be forwarded to someone who may have a greater ability to identify your specimen(s).  If you prefer to "crowdsource" identification of your specimens the best way is to join Mushroomobserver.org and submit your images to that site.

14. Limitation on excessive use of service: Please do not submit more than three (3) different types (or species) of mushrooms for identification within any 30 day period.  If you live in Southern California and you really need to identify more than three species in a month you are a candidate for joining the Los Angeles Mycological Society.

15. Disposition of submitted images: Photographs, digital images, or other materials submitted become property of the Los Angeles Mycological Society and may be shared with other individuals, organizations or institutions for purposes of aiding identification or promoting scientific study.

16. Membership has its privileges: If you are genuinely interested in learning more about how to identify mushrooms and fungi there is no substitute for learning from other mycology enthusiasts.  The best way to do so is by joining the Los Angeles Mycological Society and participating in its activities.  If you live outside of Southern California, a comprehensive listing of North American mycological societies is here.

Photo Submission Guidelines

Characteristics of good identification photos:

  • Sharp focus--using the viewfinder rather than the LCD display screen often gives a better indication of the true focus.

  • No harsh shadows.  If using natural light, mid-day is best.

  • Get as close to the specimen as your camera will allow while keeping focus sharp.  The closer the better!

  • Show ALL parts of the mushroom: top of the cap, underside of the cap, the stem and the base.  If you only have one specimen take multiple photos!  At least one image should show the entire mushroom.

  • If possible, use fresh, intact mushrooms; dried, rotten, cut or incomplete specimens may be difficult or impossible to identify.

  • Whenever possible, show pictures of the mushroom(s) in habitat.

  • Place something in the field of view to indicate scale such as a ruler, pen or pocket knife.  Do NOT use coins.  Most coins are shiny and "blind" the light sensors in most cameras when used in "automatic" mode.

  • If photographing indoors, incandescent light seems to give more life-like colors than fluorescent lighting.

  • If enough specimens are available make a photo showing a "growth series": immature--> mature--> very mature.

  • If possible, use a digital camera with an image size of at least 1.5 megapixels--i.e. 1000 x 1500 pixels.  Images taken with cell phone cameras often lack sufficient resolution (or focus) to be useful.


  • Attempt to sharpen focus, change colors or otherwise "improve" your images using Adobe Photoshop® or similar applications.

  • Resize images to make them smaller or larger.

  • Send images with a large amount of neutral background such as carpeting or table top.  You may crop unneeded background using Irfanview (free) or similar applications.


Guidelines for information to accompany photographs

It is seldom possible to include all the relevant information about a mushroom in a photograph.  Whenever possible, information about each group of photos documenting a specimen or group of specimens should be included with the photos.  The importance of each category of information is indicated by asterisks * where "***" is most important and "*" least important.



  •  Lawn --> type of grass, if known. If tree(s) are nearby indicate species.

  • Soil --> type of soil if known, i.e.; sand, clay, loam.  Also indicate if the soil was recently disturbed or cultivated.  If tree(s) are nearby indicate species.

  • On a tree --> alive or dead; indicate species if known

  • Down wood or stump -->indicate species if known

  • Forest or woodland --> indicate nearest tree species as well as predominant trees in area

  • Leaves/needles--> indicate species of tree or shrub if known.  If known, indicate whether the base of the stem is in the leaves or in underlying soil.

  • Wood chips/mulch

  • Dung --> cow, horse, sheep, etc

Additional Information**

Please indicate the geographic area, including state or county ,where the photos were taken.

Please indicate the date or at least the season when the photos were taken.


By clicking the following link I certify that I have read and AGREE to the above terms and conditions

  Please submit identification requests through this email address ONLY: identification_request(at)lamushrooms.org   Please replace "(at)" with @

Please make sure "Mushroom Identification Request" appears in the SUBJECT line of your email

Please be sure to add the email address above to your "whitelist" so our response can reach you


Created in December 2006.  Last update October 21, 2017.  Contact the webmaster.
Copyright 2006-2017 by the Los Angeles Mycological Society unless otherwise noted
All images used with permission of the copyright holder
This page is part of the Los Angeles Mycological Society web page at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County