MST Help and Frequently Asked Questions

The questions below are the ones we're most frequently asked about the Mycological Society of Toronto, its policies, programs and operations. If you don't find an answer to your question here, please feel free to contact us

The MST receives many inquiries by email, especially during the spring and fall seasons. All our email is answered by volunteers who donate their time, so please try and find an answer below before asking!

In case of mushroom poisoning, it's very important to act quickly. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been poisoned by mushrooms please contact your local poison centre immediately. Our volunteers are not qualified health professionals, and can only offer informal advice in non-urgent situations. The Ontario Poison Centre in Toronto is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 416-813-5900 and 1-800-268-9017.

Mushroom Identification

There are several poisonous species in Ontario, and some are deadly. Many edible species have poisonous lookalikes, and it's extremely difficult for an amateur to distinguish between them. The MST recommends very strongly that you don't eat any wild mushroom without the guidance of an experienced mycologist in person.

There are several poisonous species in Ontario, and some are deadly. Many edible species have poisonous lookalikes, and it's extremely difficult for an amateur to distinguish between them. The MST recommends very strongly that you don't eat any wild mushroom without the guidance of an experienced mycologist in person.

No, the MST is not equipped to accept specimens by mail or in person. If you're an MST member, bring your specimen along to a meeting or a foray for identification.

The MST is not equipped to accept specimens by mail or in person. If you're an MST member, bring your specimen along to a meeting or a foray for identification.

It's possible to send us photos of your specimen by email, but please read and understand the warnings and instructions below beforehand.

It's very difficult to identify mushrooms only from photographs. Any identification we make from a photo will be tentative, and for reasons of liability the MST can't provide firm identifications.

Eating the wrong mushroom can make you very sick or even cause death, and the MST recommends very strongly that you don't eat any wild mushroom without the guidance of an experienced mycologist in person. The MST accepts no responsibility for any illness or complication resulting from eating a mushroom based on a tentative identification provided from photographs.

If your specimen was found outside Ontario, we won't be able to identify it for you. Species vary greatly between geographic locations and our members are familiar with the species that grow in our area.

If you still want your mushroom identified, please send your photos to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please include as much of the following information as possible:

  • Location (e.g. Guelph)
  • Date the specimen was observed
  • Habitat (e.g. in grass)
  • Species of any nearby trees
  • Spore print colour
  • Distinctive smells
  • Colour changes

Please send photos of the specimen from all angles (showing underneath the cap, the stem etc.) and of the specimen cut in half from top to bottom through the stem. Please make sure the mushroom fills the picture frame - blurry photos taken from eye-level guarantee that we won't be able to help you.

The more information you can provide, the more likely we'll be able to provide a tentative identification of your specimen.

It's possible to send us photos of your specimen by email, but please read and understand the warnings and instructions below beforehand.

It's very difficult to identify mushrooms only from photographs. Any identification we make from a photo will be tentative, and for reasons of liability the MST can't provide firm identifications.

Eating the wrong mushroom can make you very sick or even cause death, and the MST recommends very strongly that you don't eat any wild mushroom without the guidance of an experienced mycologist in person. The MST accepts no responsibility for any illness or complication resulting from eating a mushroom based on a tentative identification provided from photographs.

If your specimen was found outside Ontario, we won't be able to identify it for you. Species vary greatly between geographic locations and our members are familiar with the species that grow in our area.

If you still want your mushroom identified, please send your photos to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please include as much of the following information as possible:

  • Location (e.g. Guelph)
  • Date the specimen was observed
  • Habitat (e.g. in grass)
  • Species of any nearby trees
  • Spore print colour
  • Distinctive smells
  • Colour changes

Please send photos of the specimen from all angles (showing underneath the cap, the stem etc.) and of the specimen cut in half from top to bottom through the stem. Please make sure the mushroom fills the picture frame - blurry photos taken from eye-level guarantee that we won't be able to help you.

The more information you can provide, the more likely we'll be able to provide a tentative identification of your specimen. 

Gathering or foraging wild mushrooms on private land with permission is legal. Picking mushrooms in provincial parks is not legal.

Many Conservation Areas, Nature Reserves, County Forests, public parks, etc. prohibit picking of mushrooms and other fungi. Take note of posted signage and, if in any doubt whether picking is allowed, contact the authority which manages the property. 

Picking wild edibles on Crown land is considered a transient activity under the free use policy, made under the public lands act. You may harvest mushrooms on Crown land if food gathering is allowed on that land parcel. The Crown land use policy atlas will indicate whether or not food gathering is permitted in a particular parcel of land.

Regardless of where you pick, please make sure that your activities are not negatively affecting the plants or impacting the local environment. Harvesting mushrooms, berries, wild leeks, etc. should be done in a sustainable manner to allow for future harvesting. We suggest taking a small amount for personal use and leaving the rest for growth and for future harvests.

Please be aware that there are several poisonous species in Ontario, and some are deadly. Many edible species have poisonous lookalikes, and it's extremely difficult for an amateur to distinguish between them. The MST recommends very strongly that you don't eat any wild mushroom without the guidance of an experienced mycologist in person.

The most common field guide used by MST members is Mushrooms of Ontario & Eastern Canada (also published as Mushrooms of Northeast North America: Midwest to New England). Copies are generally available for purchase at MST meetings and forays.

Another useful field guide is Mushrooms of the Northeast by Teresa Marrone and Walter Sturgeon.

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