Types of Mushrooms on Trees: Edible Mushrooms That Grow on Trees (Pics)

Man wonders about growing mushrooms on trees and asks what are the edible mushrooms that grow on trees and how do you identify mushroom roots, mushroom habitat, stump mushrooms and mushroom trees?

“Mushroom trees” is a curious term, and whether it is the diverse uses in the culinary world or the wondrous medicinal properties that they hold, mushrooms on trees are a stunning and sometimes surreal sight.

So, if you’re thinking of growing mushrooms on trees on your own, or maybe you have spotted one in your garden, and you are wondering whether it is safe to eat, this complete guide can help.

However, although there are many various edible mushroom species out there, knowing exactly how to identify them is crucial to determine whether they are safe to eat or not.

Indeed, many mushrooms on trees have highly toxic look-a-likes, which is what makes growing your own mushroom trees desirable for many people.

This guide outlines a number of edible mushrooms to grow on trees and how to start planting them, they’re features and where they will flourish.

Common Types of Edible Mushrooms That Grow on Trees

Are you a huge fan of mushrooms on trees? Are you constantly looking forward to trying out different tastes and textures?

Or is this your very first time trying one, but you are worried about whether it is safe to eat or not? Then, you need to find ways to tell and the common features to look out for when picking edible mushrooms on trees.

Here is a selection of some of the most common options that you will find in kitchens all over the country.

Lion’s Mane

Starting off the list is this fungus that you would easily recognize from a mile away: the lion’s mane. It thrives on majestic hardwood trees like the oak tree, beech tree, and maple tree, especially on the underside parts.

Photo of the Lion's Mane's bark with mushrooms that grow on trees.

(Image by: Artur Kornakov13)

At first glance, you can tell that it gets its name from its unique appearance, how it grows in a bunch that kind of looks like a lion’s mane. It has got spines measuring about 5cm long dangling from it, making it easy to tell apart.

This mushroom is packed with so many medicinal benefits and, of course, makes for a great dish, all thanks to its seafood flavor.1

Photo of Shiitake Mushroom served on a sustainable plate.

(Image by: Yuval Zukerman14)

Edible Mushrooms on Mushroom Trees: Shiitake Mushroom

Up in the list of some of the most common edible mushrooms, particularly brown mushrooms, that you will likely come across is the Shiitake.7 You will know because it is a cap fungus with a broad, umbrella-shaped top with a tan-brown look.

The impressive thing about it? How is it such a hit in East Asia? It is one of the most vital parts of dishes and is universally loved for how it has a distinct meat-like feel and earthy taste.

Apart from that, it is also known for its high nutrient content; the icing on the cake is how effortless it is to grow on your own.

Chicken of the Woods

Apart from white and brown shades, did you know that there are also orange mushrooms and yellow mushrooms that are edible? Colored ones may seem scary at first, but wait till you come across one like the chicken of the woods, it has a unique fan-like cap and a signature smooth feel and taste.

Photo of Chicken of the Woods growing at the root of a tree.

(Image by: kellyclampitt15)

Instead of gills, these ones have tiny pores underneath the caps, and you cannot possibly miss the striking yellow and orange hues. From the name, it goes without saying that you can expect a chicken-like taste from this one.

Photo of Turkey Tail growing on the damp part of a dead bark of a tree.

(Image by: Ian Lindsay (Illuvis)16)

Turkey Tail

People who believe in ancient Chinese medicine will tell you that the turkey tail is one mushroom that is loaded with medicinal benefits. As a matter of fact, there are current studies trying to prove that it actually has anti-cancer properties.8

Coming from the name, the turkey tail is easy to spot, all thanks to its large, flat, fan-shaped cap lined with several colors, as you thought, just like a turkey’s tail. The marks come in shades of white, gray, black, and brown.

You will most likely bump into it growing in downed trees and the woodlands in northern parts of America.

Button Mushrooms

There is one famous mushroom known worldwide, and perhaps you have seen it either in the wild or in stores. The button mushroom is a must-have in your kitchen and was first planted in the 1800s, back then when most of them were in brown shades.

Close up photo of Button Mushrooms.

(Image by: Engin Akyurt (Engin_Akyurt)17)

Later on, when it started being planted in white, everyone loved it, and the subtle flavor made it even more popular. This bulb or white cap mushroom is easy to spot and is a top choice for farmers.

Photo of Wood Ear Mushroom edible mushrooms that grow on trees.

(Image by: Kevin Cannings (KevCannings)18)

Wood Ear Mushroom

Although more popular in the East than the West, this unusual-looking mushroom is also edible. It is a member of the jelly mushrooms and looks exactly as the name suggests, like an ear.

It is a mass of brown, translucent jelly fungus, gelatinous in nature with an elastic feel and a sort of wrinkly flesh. Measuring about 9cm long, this strange-looking mushroom has an equally strange rubbery taste, somewhat bland.

It is also said to take quite a long time to cook; maybe that’s why it is not that popular, but regardless, it is still a hit in Asian recipes.

Honey Mushroom

Any fungus hunter will be quick to point out that the honey mushroom is at the top list of best mushrooms to find in the wild. When you cook it carefully and savor the delectable nutty flavor, you will easily tell why it is such a favorite.

Photo of Honey Mushroom growing at the base part of a tree.

(Image by: JamesDeMers19)

Taking a look, you will see that it grows in clusters of several tiny cap mushrooms that are golden brown, round when young, but flattened at old age.9

You will find them growing at the bases of trees, especially the elm, birch, oak, and maple, although also present under pines.

Photo of the Charcoal Burner Mushroom growing on the ground full of dried leaves.

(Image by: Björn S…20)

Charcoal Burner Mushroom

Another very popular cap mushroom that is common to find growing in the wild is this one. Unlike other types that take white shades, this one has a burnt-like look with a signature flat top.

You have to add it to your recipes to enjoy how well it blends with other dishes while still maintaining its soft, fleshy texture.

It is not a surprise that it is one of the most common types of mushrooms growing in Europe.

Oyster Mushroom

Did you know that the oyster mushroom was initially grown during the 1st World War as ration food?10 To date, it is still a favorite when it comes to so many cuisines, and it is no wonder it now grows in so many parts of the globe.

Photo of a bundle of Oyster Mushrooms.

(Image by: Joant21)

It has adapted to life in so many habitats, and you would be surprised to learn that there are as many as 200 different species of them, otherwise called tree mushrooms. They don’t have stems like other types, just caps that can reach 3-15 cm long; they are also known for their white colors and grayish undersides.

They don’t have stems like other types, just caps that can reach 3-15 cm long; they are also known for their white colors and grayish undersides.

Photo of Beefsteak Fungus growing from the ground.

(Image by: David Short22)

Beefsteak Fungus

Another unique type of mushroom that should definitely be on this list is the beefsteak fungus. You are right, it looks just like raw steak, more so when you split it open.4

It has a signature look that will easily tell it apart from the rest. It is one of the fungi that grows a red color, reddish-brown to be exact, and touching it actually feels like moist meat.

It grows massive, measuring about 7 cm long and 6 inches thick. You can even use it as a substitute for meat, and you will be surprised how well it works.

Cauliflower Mushroom

Stunning is an understatement when it comes to describing the cauliflower mushroom. It is noted as one of the most beautiful and definitely stands out with its massive size and densely growing strands, looking exactly like the head of a cauliflower.

Photo of a white Cauliflower Mushroom that grows from the ground.

(Image by: Andre Perroud (ITCheck)23)

You can’t miss this fungus, not with its entangled cap that is whitish to pale yellow and reaches about 60 cm wide. It is a favorite not just for its looks but also its nut-like flavor which makes it a great choice for pairing with meats.

Photo of the Witches Butter in its bright yellow appearance as it grows from the bark of a tree.

(Image by: Elsemargriet24)

Witches Butter

Speaking of gelatinous jelly mushrooms on trees, there is also the bright yellow mushroom called the witches butter, an odd-looking fungi that you would find growing in your yard. It measures about 2-5 cm wide and 3 cm tall, such a favorite of wetlands, explaining why you will likely spot it after heavy rainfall.

There is no way you could miss this striking mushroom with its bright orange and yellow colors, which also befittingly earn it the names golden jelly and yellow tremble fungus.

Cremini Mushrooms

Looking at the shape of the cremini mushrooms, you could say that they look like brown versions of button mushrooms.11 It is easy to confuse them apart from their distinct brown color, and, interestingly, they are the original variety that was brown before they were converted to the white button mushrooms that you now love.

Photo of a bunch of Cremini Mushrooms.

(Image by: wikioticsIan25)

Apart from the color, there is also a difference in taste because they take a richer, nutty flavor.

Photo of Enoki Mushrooms on a white background.

(Image by: Markus Winkler26)

Enoki Mushrooms

Are you a fan of bright white mushrooms? Then you will absolutely love the enoki species that are either found in the wild or cultivated during indoor gardening.

What sets them apart from the rest is the fact that they grow into slim, white, long clusters of cap mushrooms, and you will love just how perfectly they blend into sauces and soups, all thanks to the slimy feel and mild flavor.

Morel Mushroom

This list would be incomplete without the incredible morel mushroom, one of the most prized edible fungi in the world. You cannot confuse it with any other because it has the most unique look and the richest flavor ever.

Photo of Morel Mushroom as it grows from the ground.

(Image by: Peter Stevens27)

Unlike other cap mushrooms, this one has a shriveled appearance at the top, with a cone-like shape, taking brown and light shades. Fun fact: did you know that the sale and purchase of Morel is actually a multi-million enterprise?

It costs a pretty penny not only because it is hard to plant but also hard to find.

Why Are There Mushrooms That Grow on Trees? What Does Mushrooms on Trees Mean?

Unless you are an expert in all matters of mushrooms on trees, you may have many questions about them. You may be wondering, are mushrooms fungi?

Are mushrooms decomposers? What does it mean when you spot them in your tree?

Are they dangerous? They are a common sight to find in gardens and backyards, easy to detect with their thick, spongy, colored flesh.

You will find them in various places, from rotting wood to massive living trees, and there are so many species coming in different shapes, colors, and sizes, some are edible while others are toxic. Mushrooms, to put it simply, are fungi that show up on decomposed matter, in this case, trees.

So, when you randomly spot them in your yard, it could mean that your tree is dying, maybe from a disease, after severe damage, or it could be an indicator of rot.5 What the fungi do is help break down the plant matter; they can grow in abundance, given that trees offer the best substrates for fungi to grow.

What makes them live and thrive is the fact that their spores spread so fast in the air, easily finding a new host. All they need is optimal conditions, high humidity, shading, and heat, and they handle the rest.

They should be fine as long as they are able to feed on the cellulose that the wood gladly provides. In addition to that, they will keep surviving on the tree’s nutrient supply that comes from the roots.

Considering how easily they grow, it just goes to show how effortless it would be to plant your own. With very little care, you will have a constant supply of tasty mushrooms right from your home.

Identifying Mushroom Trees: How To Examine Mushroom on Trees

Unlike popular opinion, not all mushrooms on trees cause damage. There are some types that have one job only, feeding on matter that is dead or decaying, which explains why you will spot some growing on dead trunks and damaged and fallen trees.

These are referred to as saprophytes and are usually pretty harmless.6 The only issue now is how to tell that you are indeed dealing with mushrooms, and not just that, that it is the safe kind.

Graphics with text that shows the common types of mushroom on trees such as Cap fungus, Shell fungus, and Jelly fungus.

Mushrooms can either grow on or away from the tree. Having mushrooms on trees, the bark, or the branches means that there is structural damage or the tree is dying from an infection, and on the other hand, you may spot them just casually growing in your yard.

Lawn mushrooms usually go to show that you have healthy soil in your yard, and as a matter of fact, their presence leads to the introduction of vital nutrients into the soil, so basically, they help promote the ecosystem. Now, onto the tree fungus or mushrooms that grow on trees; how do you identify them or tell them apart?

You will take a closer look at the cap of the fruiting body, the underside, and the location of the tree. Here are the common types.

  1. Cap fungus: When you mention mushrooms, this is practically the first thing that comes to the mind of many. Cap fungi have a signature look, flat caps with tube-like stems, and you can easily spot them at first glance.
  2. Shelf fungus/ bracket fungus: These are also pretty common to find growing on trees. They always stick out because of their sheer size and extent of spread, with their flat, sometimes circular caps.
    They have a strong hold on the tree trunk and branches and are pretty hard to miss.
  3. Jelly fungus: Lastly, there is the jelly fungus; these look a little bit odd, but from the name, you can tell that they are gelatinous and translucent-like in form. They kind of look like brains, ears, or wavy blobs of soft materials, not like the common mushrooms that you easily come across in the woods.

What Is the Perfect Mushroom Habitat?

Mushrooms use dying trees as their substrates because they offer nothing less than the conditions that they are used to. They provide high humidity, heat, and moisture.

Apart from that, mushrooms also love shaded spots, which explains why they prefer growing on forest floors. Providing these ideal conditions and with the use of a high-quality substrate, you can also effortlessly grow your mushrooms.

What Are Mushrooms Roots Called?

Has it ever occurred to you how mushrooms grow? Well, they attach to various types of trees or stick up from the ground, so you would think that they have the same growth mechanism as typical trees, anchored by the roots, right?

But that is far from it. Yes, they do have a support system, but it is not exactly with roots as you might think, there is quite a lot more involved.

For starters, roots are mentioned when looking into members of the kingdom Plantae or the plant kingdom, but mushrooms are part of the kingdom fungi, which grow out of unique parts referred to as mycelium.2 This mycelium is the sole vegetative part of fungi that grows into the mushrooms that you know of.

Think of it this way: in comparison to a typical plant, the mycelium is like the root system, while the actual mushroom is technically the flower part. Here is what happens: spores land on the ideal substrate, the tree in this case, and when the conditions are favorable, germination occurs and that is basically the start of the mycelium growth from just one meristematic cell.

Considering all fungi obtain their energy from their habitat, just like humans and animals do, the mycelium is tasked with the release of enzymes, which in turn digest the surrounding matter, absorbing nutrients in the process. With time, the mycelium forms an elaborate system of mushrooms, helping in the decay of dead matter in the process and growing into bountiful mushrooms.

The Easiest Mushrooms To Grow and How To Grow Them

Do you love mushroom sauces and how they feel and taste? Then you must have thought about having them growing right in your home.

You may see them effortlessly in the wild and think to yourself that it will be a walk in the park, right, but not really. Just like plants, mushrooms need some TLC, and perfect conditions for them to grow.

Graphics with text of the easiest mushrooms to grow such as Oyster mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms, Wine Cap mushrooms, Lion's Mane mushrooms, and Pioppino mushrooms.

Now that you are aware of the common edible varieties, it is not time to ask whether you can grow them on your own.12 Considering how delicate they are, you can’t help but ask, which ones are the easiest to try out?

Here is the list.

  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Wine cap mushrooms28
  • Lion’s mane mushrooms
  • Pioppino mushrooms29

No matter which type you choose to cultivate, know that the outcome will eventually depend on the growth rate of the particular species and, of course, your dedication. This means that you need to take your time before deciding which to plant.

Thinking about how to grow truffles or morels? If you are a beginner, those are no-go-zones, there is a reason why they are expensive: they are not easy to cultivate.

What you need is types like the oyster that not only grow rather fast but also need very little from you.

What Are the Types of Morel Mushroom Trees?

Looking for the expensive morel mushroom? Although it is pretty hard to find and even harder to grow, there are particular mushroom trees where they are known to grow.

You can look for them on oak, elm, apple, ash, cottonwood, aspen, and sycamore trees for a better shot.

Are All Mushrooms on Trees Edible?

Not all mushrooms are edible. While many are, you have to keep an eye out for deadly ones that are known to cause fatalities and, in extreme cases, death.

Some of the lethal ones include the death cap, death angel, funeral bell, and panther cap.

Are Stump Mushrooms Toxic?

Mushrooms are special parts of cuisines, but watch out because not all of them are safe to eat. You can’t pick just any growing in your yard unless you confirm that it is one of the edible ones by name and easy-to-spot features.

The following are common toxic mushrooms that you will likely come across.

  1. Death cap mushroom: This one is one of the most fatal ones, with the highest causes of mushroom poisoning all over the world, known to cause kidney and liver failure in just under 24 hours after ingestion.3.
  2. Deadly webcap: You will spot this by its brown or orange tip, known for containing Orellanine, a deadly poison.
  3. Death angel: Don’t let the bright white color of this mushroom fool you. It causes stomach pains and leads to organ failure in about 8-24 hours.
  4. Funeral bell: This contains the same poison as the ones in the death cap, called amatoxins, and is infamous for causing organ failure.
  5. Panther cap: Although it looks pretty, this dark fungus with white spots is one of the deadliest out there. It can affect the nervous system and lead to hallucinations and delusions, usually with fatal outcomes.

Mushrooms are a must-have for various recipes. They are chefs’ favorites not just because of the taste but also the texture that they add to sauces.

The best part is that being fungi, that means that you can have one growing freely right in your backyard. While sometimes they warn of impending doom for your old and diseased trees, they are blessings in disguise if you find the edible ones.

You can even grow some on your own instead of hunting for them in the wild. Mushrooms on trees come in so many colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors and you will easily be spoiled for choice when choosing one.

Mushroom on trees evoke curiosity, and the only precaution to take is to make sure that the mushrooms that grow on trees you go for are not toxic ones, as they can be fatal.

Read More About Mushroom Trees


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13A tree with a ball hanging from it’s trunk Photo by Artur Kornakov. (2021, October 13) / Unsplash License. Cropped. Unsplash. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://unsplash.com/photos/a-tree-with-a-ball-hanging-from-its-trunk-gqTd5MSZaHc>

14Brown and white mushrooms on brown woven basket Photo by Yuval Zukerman. (2021, August 22) / Unsplash License. Unsplash. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://unsplash.com/photos/brown-and-white-mushrooms-on-brown-woven-basket-gYGnlltOlx0>

15Fungi, Chicken of the woods, Mushroom Photo by kellyclampitt. (2017, February 15) / Pixabay License. Pixabay. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/fungi-chicken-of-the-woods-mushroom-2069479/>

16Turkey tail, Fungus, Fungi Photo by Ian Lindsay (Illuvis). (2020, January 27) / Pixabay License. Cropped. Pixabay. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/turkey-tail-fungus-fungi-mushrooms-4798956/>

17Mushrooms, Button mushrooms, Vegetables Photo by Engin Akyurt (Engin_Akyurt). (2021, November 1) / Pixabay License. Pixabay. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/mushrooms-button-mushrooms-6757668/>

18Judas ear, Jews ear, Wood ear Photo by Kevin Cannings (KevCannings). (2019, December 29) / Pixabay License. Pixabay. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/judas-ear-jews-ear-wood-ear-fungus-4727778/>

19Honey mushrooms, Fungi, Fungus Photo by JamesDeMers. (2012, September 19) / Pixabay License. Pixabay. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/honey-mushrooms-fungi-fungus-57222/>

20Charcoal Burner – Russula cyanoxantha Photo by Björn S…. (2018, October 9) / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 GenericFlickr. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://flickr.com/photos/40948266@N04/45202732211>

21Layered mushrooms Photo by Joant. (2021, May 30) / Unsplash License. Unsplash. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://unsplash.com/photos/white-and-brown-flower-petals-zBBSJrsIMVo>

22Beefsteak fungus (WGP) Photo by David Short. (2012, December 10) / CC BY 2.0 DEED| Attribution 2.0 GenericFlickr. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://www.flickr.com/photos/14583963@N00/8259736063/>

23Mushroom, Cauliflower mushroom, Forest mushroom Photo by Andre Perroud (ITCheck). (2021, April 12) / Pixabay License. Pixabay. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/mushroom-cauliflower-mushroom-6172822/>

24Fungus, Witch butter, Mushroom Photo by Elsemargriet. (2022, May 14) / Pixabay License. Pixabay. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/fungus-witch-butter-mushroom-7191075/>

25Mushrooms (cremini) Photo by wikioticsIan. (2010, October 24) / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 GenericFlickr. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://www.flickr.com/photos/51004712@N08/5112261430/>

26An Enoki Mushrooms on White Surface Photo by Markus Winkler. (2022, August 31) / Pexels License. Pexels. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/an-enoki-mushrooms-on-white-surface-13441977/>

27Morel mushroom Photo by Peter Stevens. (2013, April 25) / CC BY 2.0 DEED| Attribution 2.0 GenericFlickr. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from <https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/8679959996/>