Mushroom Identification

Basics and Beyond

Mushroom hunting should be easy for everyone

Foraging wild mushrooms is one of my favorite ways to engage in nature. Not only does it offer me fresh whole foods and natural medicines, but it also helps me tune into my surroundings and engage in my environment in more intentional and inspiring ways.

Unfortunately, the basic skills of mushroom hunting are hard to access for most people. Most mushroom field guides (ID books) assume some familiarity with the topic, while also not providing clear tips to forage efficiently. Without a mentor, mushroom hunting can be overwhelming, and even scary to some.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! In this course I will teach you the best practices I have developed over the last decade to make mushroom hunting easy and accessible for anyone, anywhere in the world. Using a simple, time-saving, and easy-to-follow methodology, we will clear the air of mystery around this important life skill to discover just how exciting wild mushroom hunting truly is!

Welcome to the wonderful world of wild mushrooms!

Peter McCoy

MYCOLOGOS Founder and Mycomind

Mushroom Identification:
Basics & Beyond

Start Date: July 1
Duration: 7 weeks, with new material released each Monday
(See below for full details on the course's structure)

Learning to hunt mushrooms is a deeply enriching life skill. Wherever you travel, mushrooms will be there, offering unique opportunities to learn about the natural world around you. But with approximately 10,000 mushroom species described in North America alone, where does one begin? This is often the first question asked by beginner mushroom hunters. Thankfully, the answer is easy to unravel within just a few weeks of good instruction and practice in the field.

In this course, you will learn the skills needed to safely identify mushrooms anywhere you travel. Starting with the historical and cultural significance of wild mushroom foraging, this course will guide you through the best tools and techniques for safe, efficient, and environmentally-conscious foraging – including land mapping, trip planning, documentation, and preservation strategies. Over 65 of the most popular edible, medicinal, and ecologically important wild mushroom species – most found across North America, Europe, and Asia – will be described in depth, detailing their identification features, cultural and ecological importance, and potential applications in cultivation, medicine making, and land management. All combined, this course will take you well beyond a standard introduction to identification to equip you with the skills, insights, and motivations for mushroom hunting anywhere in the world, at any time of the year!

Course Overview

WEEK 1: Foraging History & Taxonomy 101

Orientation • Course Objectives •  Why Hunt Mushrooms? • Foraging's Past, Present, and Future Impacts • Mushroom Classification Systems • DNA Sequencing Intro

WEEK 2: Mushroom ID Terminology

The Uniqueness of Fungi • Stature Types • Primary Visible Features & Their Descriptors • Easy Microscopy • Safety Considerations • Foraging Ethics & Best Practices

WEEK 3: Collecting & Describing

Tools of the Trade • Trip Planning • Habitat Types • Collecting & Documenting Best Practices • Using Field Guides and Keys • Preserving Collections • Nature Journaling

WEEK 4: Top Species to Know

Poisonous Species • Toxins and Treatments • 15 "Fool-Proof" Species • Identification Features • Distribution Patterns • Applications in Food, Medicine, Cultivation, and Beyond

WEEK 5: 20 Top "Cap & Stalk" Species

Identification Features • Distribution Patterns • Applications in Food, Medicine, Cultivation, and Beyond

WEEK 6: 20 Top "Non-Cap & Stalk" Species

Identification Features • Distribution Patterns • Applications in Food, Medicine, Cultivation, and Beyond

WEEK 7: Ten Tricky Species

Identification Features • Distribution Patterns • Applications in Food, Medicine, Cultivation, and Beyond • Cooking Mushrooms Introduction • Applications and Career Paths with Mushroom Foraging • Mushroom Foraging for Citizen Science • Course Conclusion & Next Steps

Join Live, or Later

This course runs live from July 1 to August 12, 2019. New content (videos, suggested readings, and other resources) is released on the Monday of each week, and questions for a given week's material can be submitted until noon the following Saturday (PST / UTC-7).

You are encouraged to join the course while it is live to have an active voice in the weekly Question and Answer sessions, but if you're not quite ready to join, you will still be able to sign up after the course ends at any time.

Life Skills You Will Learn

This course will leave you well prepared for a lifetime of mushroom hunting and discovery by teaching you:
  • How to accurately identify over 65 of the most important mushroom species found on nearly all continents, including edible, medicinal, and poisonous species
  • How to read and interpret any mushroom field guide and identification key
  • Mushroom identification terminology and features
  • How to map your landscape for efficient foraging
  • How to create a year-round mushroom hunting calendar for specific species you are most interested in finding
  • Mushroom hunting ethics and best practices
  • How to curate a personal mushroom collection and document your observations online
  • How to submit mushrooms to academic herbaria for preservation
  • The importance of mushroom identification in citizen science
  • The historical significance of mushroom hunting and identification
  • The essentials of mushroom classification and naming
  • How to maintain a detailed naturalist journal and record thorough species descriptions

What You Receive

Enrollment in this course provides you with these offerings:
  • One year of streaming access to the entire course content, including video lectures and demonstrations, field recordings, reference and resource documents, and more!
  • Lifetime access to this course’s section on the MYCOLOGOS® web forum where you can share ideas, questions, and success stories with a global community of fellow fungi enthusiasts
  • Study and reference materials, and experiential projects designed to reinforce concepts and terminology and improve identification efficiency
  • Instructions, materials lists, and support for projects to be done in home, in the field, and in your community
  • Question submissions to the course's weekly Question & Answer sessions (if you register before the course begins on July 1)
  • Upon completion, a Certificate from MYCOLOGOS recognizing your comprehension of course materials and completion of the course’s requirements. Learn more about our Certificates of Completion here

Ways to Join

You can sign up for this course at any time as enrollment will be ongoing once the course goes live on July 9, 2019. To register, simply sign up at the link below. Prior to the start of the course, you will receive registration information to set up your account on the MYCOLOGOS Courses Portal, where the videos and other course content will be made available.

You will then have access to the course's contents for a full year, during which time you can engage with the material and the associated projects and assignments at your own pace.

Registration Windows

  • If you register prior to July 1, 2019, you will be registered for the entire course and will be able to submit questions to all of the course's weekly Q&A sessions.You will also save money off the cost of the course by registering before July 9!

  • If you register after July 1, 2019, you will still have access to the entire course, including any Q&A sessions that have been recorded up to that point. But as you will only receive the course contents one week at a time, regardless of when you sign up, you will not be able to submit questions to the recorded weekly Q&A sessions. You will still be able to submit questions via email and on the MYCOLOGOS Community Forum at any time.

Content Access

Once you are registered, new course content will be provided to your account on the MYCOLOGOS Courses Portal each week, and an email will be sent to you when the new content is available. You will be able to download all of the course’s texts and supplementary materials, though course videos will only be available online, so you will need a reliable internet connection (whether on your smart phone or computer) to watch with them.

Who This Course is For

This course is ideal for anyone interested in honing the life skill of efficient and safe mushroom hunting, whether in a wilderness, rural, or urban setting. Course particpants include:
  • Beginning foragers seeking a comprehensive introduction to mushroom hunting's theory and practice
  • Experienced mushroom hunters wishing to add new skills and insights to their existing foraging practice
  • Naturalists and citizen scientists wanting to learn to identify and document the mushrooms in their local landscapes
  • Herbalists and natural medicine wildcrafters desiring to integrate wild mushrooms into their practice
  • Parents who wish to teach their children the safest ways of interacting with wild mushrooms
  • Outdoor educators and park rangers desiring better familiarity with the wild mushrooms they encounter in the field
  • Permaculturalists, survivalists, and ancestral skills practitioners wanting to know the best practices for havesting, preparing, and supporting wild mushrooms
  • Arborists and tree planters curious about the mushrooms associated with the trees they work with
  • Conservationists and restoration ecologists needing to identify the feral mushrooms found in the lands they manage

Get Certified!

This course aims to make you not just familiar with the 65 species covered, but well-equipped to identify any mushroom you encounter for the rest of your life. To provide the best learning experience, we are including various homework assignments and bonus resources to help reinforce the information covered in the video instruction.

These additional learning tools are optional, but in order to meet the requirements for certification, you can expect to spend approximately 1–3 hours researching, planning, or foraging for every hour of instruction.

At a minimum, students seeking certification will be expected to complete several readings, create a detailed map and harvest calendar of species in their local environment, facilitate one community-oriented project related to mushroom identification (various options for this will be provided in the first week of the course), and to find, document, and accurately identify at least 15 mushroom species.

Full details on Certification requirements will be provided in the first week of the course.

You can learn more about our Certificates here. Be sure to also read our Online Course Refund, Certification, and Forum Policies prior to registration.

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Full Tuition Price


Pay in full and save over $45!

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Money-Back Guarantee

If you're not fully satisfied, we'll refund your tuition within 72 hours of enrollment, no questions asked.

Do you want to be completely immersed in the joys of wild mushroom hunting?

We know how exciting it is to find wild mushrooms – whether it's the first crop of savory Morels in the spring, or the last Yellowfoot and Enoki mushrooms lingering on at the end of the winter season. The joys of finding, knowing, and embracing something so short-lived and intriguing – yet overlooked by most people – simply isn’t comparable to picking wild berries or foraging for other wild foods. Mushroom hunting is a full-body, immersive experience that opens your eyes to subtle changes in the environment, engaging all of your senses – from the first spotting in the understory, to the final bite of a wild mushroom dinner. It’s a never-ending practice of discovery that we get excited just thinking about, let alone getting out there and doing!

In this course we will guide you on the journey of engaging with wild mushrooms and confidently identifying and working with them for the rest of your life. Whether you're just getting interested in the topic or want to take your foraging skills to the next level, we've got you covered!

Have a Question?

Check Our FAQs

This course’s core objective is to teach you how to safely, confidently, and responsibly identify and harvest wild mushrooms. Through guided studies, tests, experiential projects, and other coursework you will develop competency in the topics listed at the top of this page, giving you the means to recognize and work with over 65 species specifically, as well as confidently identify nearly any other wild mushroom you encounter. The insights provided will enable you to enrich your personal engagement with nature, as well as open new possibilities for academic exploration or career development.
Prior to the start of the course, you will receive login information to the MYCOLOGOS Courses Portal, where the course videos are hosted, and the MYCOLOGOS Community Forum, where discussion takes place. You will also receive a welcome video at that time that will familiarize you with these online platforms.

Once the course starts you will receive weekly emails linking you to new course content (e.g. videos, downloads, instructionals, and supplementary resources).
Starting in 2020, MYCOLOGOS will be offering partial scholarships for some of our online and in-person course and events. If you are not financially able to join our courses this year, please check back as details about our scholarship fund continue to develop.
Some of the unique aspects of this course include the breadth and depth of perspective Peter brings to the topic. Beyond just teaching your how to identify mushrooms, this course teaches you how to place and apply that knowledge in a variety of broader contexts (e.g. land mapping and assessment for foraging, historic and cultural relevance of foraging, paths for career development, environmental conservation, citizen science, and academic research). This course is designed to not just help you get started with foraging, but to take that skill set to the next level when you are ready.
Yes! Once you start looking you will notice mushrooms growing all around you – from lawns in city parks to the trunks of the trees lining your sidewalk. While the 65 species covered in depth in this course may not all occur in your immediate area, the associated skills of mushroom hunting (e.g. trip planning and using ID books) translate to hunting any mushroom anywhere in the world. These are the most critical skills that underly the whole course and are designed to support foragers on any continent.
Yes! Anyone is welcome to join the course, so long as they feel comfortable engaging in the topics and understand that we cannot offer language translation services at this time. We are excited to educate students around the world and invite you to join us wherever you are!
Information about our Certificates of Completion can be viewed here.
Yes, though students that join the course by July 1, 2019 will have the added benefit of submiting questions to the weekly recorded Q&A sessions.
Each student will receive access to a section of the MYCOLOGOS Community Forum for this course (2019 Mushroom Identification: Basics & Beyond), where they can share questions, stories, insights, and more with their class peers. As with other online forums, there will be subthreads for specific topics covered in the course, so that information can be easily sorted and retrieved.
Students joining the course while it is live will be able to submit questions online for a weekly Q&A session of each week’s topics. Students joining after that time will be encouraged to watch the recorded Q&A sessions and check the MYCOLOGOS Community Forum for their queries (in many cases, common questions have already been asked and archived for your convenience). If your questions is not answered in either of those areas, you can email us directly.
We do offer a 10% discount per person when groups of 3 or more friends, family members, or colleagues sign up together. Please contact us if you wish to register with a group.
This course is the culmination of over a decade of dedicated research and teaching experience by Peter McCoy to create a robust, holistic, and one-of-a-kind course that is affordable. We ask that at all times you respect this time and energy investment by not sharing your login information or any of the course’s videos and original resources.

In joining this course you are also joining in a pact of mutual respect and trust, shared by you, Peter, and the other students wherein the information and personal accounts shared by all is held within the confines of the course unless otherwise stated. Peter and all of us at MYCOLOGOS thank you in advance for helping maintain the integrity of that pact and for helping ensure a longstanding, and ever-stronger community amongst all MYCOLOGOS students and alumni.

All that said, we want to make clear that we highly encourage you to share you own insights discoveries that this course brings out and up for you in whatever capacity you desire. We need more Fungal Ambassadors in the world!
This course is a stand alone offering that cannot be broken up. If you are interested in just a portion of the topics listed above, you will need to join the whole course to access those parts.
The projects related to the course are designed to be skill-building, but cost effective. There are several tools used in mushroom hunting that, while not absolutely necessary, are of great benefit. Beyond them, there are many other tools we will suggest considering investing in as well. In addition, students will need to have access to at least one local field guide. These can often be acquired through your local library if you are not able to purchase them.

In all, it would be good to set aside $200–300 for materials, books, travel costs (going in the woods, etc.), and miscellaneous resources related to the course.

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Payment Plan Price


Made in 5 monthly installments

Register Now

Full Tuition Price


Pay in full and save over $45!

Register Now

Money-Back Guarantee

If you're not fully satisfied, we'll refund your tuition within 72 hours of enrollment, no questions asked.

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