Oyster Mushrooms: How to Identify in the Wild

You may struggle a bit when you first start going into the woods to identify mushrooms, but just like how you start seeing Ford Focus cars everywhere once you buy one, edible mushrooms will almost jump out at you after you harvest a couple of times. Our goal with this guide is to give you the tools to begin training your eyes to spot these tasty, healthy foods in the wild.

Where to Find Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster (Pleurotus) mushrooms grow almost anywhere around the globe as long as there are dead or dying trees. Some of the best types of trees on which you can find oyster mushrooms growing are hard woods, such as oak, as well as beech and aspen. In order to encourage oyster mushroom growth in your back woods or yard, simply find a source of wood and inoculate it with oyster mushroom spores.

Another nice quality about oyster mushrooms is that they grow in the same location multiple times a year, year after year, so you may think about dropping a pin on your phone to mark the location.

Identifying Oyster Mushrooms:

  • Oyster shaped cap, hence the name “Oyster mushroom,” usually 2-10 inches across (5-25 cm).
  • Often growing in a shelf-like formation with overlapping caps.
  • Completely smooth tops.
  • Usually white to light silvery-brown top surface, with white gill and stem. The internal flesh is bright white.
  • Decurrent gills, meaning the gills are attached to and running from the cap and down stem.
  • A stem may or may not be present and will be off center of the cap.
  • The spore print is a silvery-gray.

When to hunt for oyster mushrooms:

One of the most convenient qualities of oyster mushrooms is that they grow year round – whether in winter after a warm spell, the fall and winter after rains or in the summer when it’s not too hot and dry.

If you love mushrooms and want to learn more about why you should enjoy these wonderful fungi, read my article entitled: 7 Health Benefits of eating Oyster Mushrooms.

*Never eat any mushroom unless you’re absolutely sure what it is and if it’s edible.