Mushrooms with gills are some of the most intriguing organisms in nature. Not only are they visually striking, but they also have complex structures and growth patterns that can present themselves in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
From novice mushroom hunters to those with years of expertise, discovering these fascinating fungi is an experience that everyone should be able to enjoy.
Below we’ll discuss the most common gilled mushrooms. But did you know not all gilled fungi is edible? Before we get started, here are a few things to keep in mind.
What are gills?
Also called lamellae, gills are found on the underside of caps. They have a blade-like shape and have different classifications based on how they are attached to the stem. Also depending on the mushroom species, gills can be crowded or subdistant and distant.
When foraging, you should:
- Avoid any gilled red-capped mushrooms
- Check if it has a skirt or ring on its stem. You want to avoid this too
- Most importantly do not pick fungi that you can not 100% identify as edible
List of Mushrooms with Gills
1. Meadow mushrooms
A July to September mushroom, the meadow mushroom also called the field mushroom is a member of the agaricus family. It is one of the edible members of this fungi family.
These species of mushrooms are found growing in laws, meadows and grasslands. Identifying them is a skill that will reward you with delicious, free food for years to come.
Field mushrooms have a white, almost-convex cap that grows up to 4 inches. Depending on its age, the cap can be hairy or smooth.
Another surefire way to identify a meadow mushroom is bruising the cap. Just a tiny scratch. If the white flesh changes to reddish-brown, you have the right mushroom. If it stains to yellow, don’t pick. The yellow-staining mushroom is inedible.
Flip the fungi and examine its gills. Young meadow mushrooms have pink and crowded gills. As it ages, the gills change to chocolate-grayish and blackish at the end of their life.
2. Short-stemmed Russula
Short-stemmed Russula mushrooms, also known as brittlegills, are a type of mushroom that occurs in most of North America.
These mushrooms typically have a cap diameter between 3 and 12 inches that changes from convex to funnel-shaped with age. Cap colors range from white to dull yellow depending on the age.
They have narrow, decurrent gills. This means the gills are attached to the stipe and slightly extend downwards. Spore print is white to creamish.
Short-stemmed Russulas often have white flesh. What do they taste like? These mushrooms with gills don’t have a particular taste. Instead, short-stemmed russulas absorb the flavor of the sauce they are cooked with. You can find them in summer through autumn, growing singly or gregariously.
3. Gilled Bolete mushroom
Gilled bolete mushrooms are a type of mushroom with a sponge-like underside and gills underneath the cap. They are prized for their mild, nutty flavor and can be used in many different dishes. Identifying gilled boletes correctly is essential for new foragers.
To identify gilled bolete mushrooms, look for key features such as a dull red to brownish or reddish yellow to olive brown cap that is slightly velvety on top.
A young fungus will have a convex cap with incurved margin and as it ages, it flattens and eventually slightly curved upwards due to the central depression.
Additionally, check for yellow gills that run down from the stem to the edge of the cap; this feature sets this mushroom apart from other boletes.
The stem should be solid and yellow in color. This yellow gilled mushroom doesn’t have a unique taste. Like the russula above, it borrows flavor from other ingredients in a dish.
4. Wood Blewit
Are there any purple gilled mushrooms in North America? Wood blewits and purple gilled lacaria are the most common examples. In this article we’ll only look at the wood blewit which grows on decaying leaf litter.
With their distinctive purple caps, they are one of the few mushrooms to be easily identified in the wild. Caps have the standard shape, convex with incurved margins. They are smooth and never slimy. With age, the caps flatten out revealing crowded gills underneath.
These mushrooms with gills have a lavender-purple stalk with a bulbous bottom. No ring. Wood blewits are found on leaf litter, mostly under living oaks or aspens.
These gilled fungi have a strong mushroomy taste that combines well with onions and garlic. This means you can add them to sauces or saute.
5. Charcoal Burner Mushroom
Russula cyanoxantha, also known as the charcoal burner mushroom, is one of the most iconic edible species of mushrooms in the russula family.
This gilled mushroom has a purple greenish or light brown in color. And like most russulas, young species are convex shaped while fully grown fungi have a flat cap that may have a center depression.
Underneath you’ll find white gills that may be crowded or subdistant. Next you need to feel the gills. Charcoal burner mushrooms are greasy and when pressed together bend easily compared to other russulas.
The stems themselves are generally smooth and white. Note no volva or ring. Additionally, these mushrooms have a slightly mushroomy odor along with their characteristic mild nutty taste.
6. Saffron Milkcap
Saffron milkcap mushrooms, also known as Lactarius deliciosus or the red pine mushrooms, are edible mushrooms that have a misleading name. Though they have the “Deliciosus” part in their name, most foragers have found them to be slightly bitter but edible.
These mushrooms sport distinctive funnel-shaped caps that are reddish orange in color and bruise greenish. Their surface is slightly sticky when rainy.
Now the gills are also orange, turning greenish when bruised or cut. Also when cut they produce a yellowish-orange milk like substance. Stems are short, whole with bright orange pits.
When can you find saffron milkcaps? They are common from August through October, mostly under pine trees.
7. Indigo Milky
Beautiful and very distinctive, the blue milk mushroom or indigo milky or indigo milk cap are blue gilled fungi that even a novice can identify. And most importantly if you are looking to introduce your kids to foraging, they’ll love this large mushroom from harvesting to plate.
Indigo milky mushrooms have a distinctive blue hue. When cut, they stain greenish.
Their caps are about 2-6 inches and are sticky when wet. When sliced or scratched, you’ll note its whitish that turns blue then greenish. Blue stems are long and thick but most foragers pick the caps only.
The flesh of the mushroom is thick and dense with a chewy texture when cooked. Indigo Milky Mushrooms have a mild nutty flavor similar to chestnuts.
Due to the unique coloration of these blue gilled mushrooms they can easily be spotted in wooded areas or near meadows where they thrive naturally in the wild. They grow from July-October.
8. Wooly Milkcap
Wooly milkcap mushrooms are often confused for saffron milkcaps. But there are a few ways you can tell this gilled mushroom apart from its relatives.
The first method is to look at the physical characteristics of the mushroom. Wooly milkcaps have a cap that is anywhere from .8 to 4 inches in diameter and are orangish like saffron caps. Also they have incurved margins but unlike saffrons their margins are wooly or shaggy.
The second method is to check their gills. Wooly milkcaps have pale pink gills that are attached to the thick stem. When cut, they produce a cream milky substance. This will help you tell them apart from saffron milkcaps.
Lastly, when bruised the off white flesh does not stain like its counterparts. It has a strong acrid smell which further helps differentiate it from other mushrooms. These mushrooms with gills are edible but not recommended.
9. Orange Grisette Mushrooms
Orange grisette mushrooms are another type of mushroom with gills that are edible but not recommended because it can be easily confused with an inedible amanita species.
These mushrooms grow under beech and birch trees during late summer and fall months. The first growth stage is incredible. This gilled fungus looks like an egg on the ground. Gradually it opens up revealing a small ovate-shaped mushroom.
The cap is usually between one to three inches in diameter with a smooth yellowish-orange surface. As it ages, the cap flattens out. Under the cap the crowded gills are creamy and slightly attached to its stem.
The orange stem has soft scales and is ringless. Note, some mushrooms may still have the whitish sack on their base.
The flesh of these mushrooms is thick and firm with a sweet smell. Orange grisettes are inedible.
10. Gymnopus iocephalus
Often found in small scattered groups, gymnopus iocephalus mushrooms are another type of mushrooms with gills. They occur in summer and fall, ranging from Florida to Texas.
Though edible they are not the effort. You’d need hours to gather enough for a meal. However, you can distinguish these mushrooms that have gills by their small purple to gray cap that is typically around two inches wide. The caps are usually smooth with pale lilac gills on the underside. Additionally, these mushrooms have an unpleasant taste.
11. Elm Oyster
Easy-to-spot and widespread, elm oysters are a prized mushroom with gills that are rare compared to common oysters.
Scientifically called Hypsizygus ulmarius they occur in hardwood forests and if you guessed on elms, that’s right.
These mushrooms are characterized by their white color, large size, and distinctively curved caps. The caps may appear curved or undulate when mature but will remain firm when cooked properly. Stems are curved and with soft fibers. Additionally, they grow on elms and boxelders from August through December.
With proper identification techniques, elm oyster mushrooms can be located easily and safely harvested.
Are gilled mushrooms edible?
Yes, some fungi with gills are edible. These include honey mushrooms, velvet shanks, cremini, oysters and meadow mushrooms. It’s worth noting, some gilled mushrooms such as funeral bells, fly agaric and green parasols, are inedible.
Mushroom gills vs pores?
The main difference between gills and pores is the way they release spores. Gills are thin, blade-like structures found on the underside of some mushrooms. They contain thousands of tiny spore-producing cells which help spread the mushroom’s spores into the environment through air currents.
Pores are small openings found at the bottom of other mushrooms, such as boletes and polypores. These create a honeycomb pattern on the underside of some mushrooms, where thousands of individual spores can be released when exposed to water droplets or rain showers.
Are you supposed to remove mushroom gills?
Generally speaking, the answer is yes. Mushroom gills are located under the cap and contain spores. Removing them helps reduce bitterness and enhances overall flavor in many dishes.
However, some recipes require that you leave the gills intact for texture and color contrast; this will depend on what type of mushroom you’re using and your desired outcome.
My name is Jenny. I’m the Chief Editor at Try Green Recipes and besides making yummy and healthy foods for my kids, grandkids, and friends. I’m new to the blogging world but I believe what I have to share is unique and will bring joy to your home. If you are adventurous and want try something tasty, let’s get started.