I love eating mushrooms. From portobello to porcini and white to wood ear, these spongy specimens make my meals more rewarding. I benefit not only from the delicious taste, but also the fiber, protein, and antioxidants that they add to my plate. At my favorite grocery store, Berkeley Bowl, I’m astounded by the plethora of mushroom options. I enjoy finding new ways to try out these fantastic fungi.

When I’m out in nature, I scan my surroundings for decaying logs, leaf litter and patches of grass. When I spot a pop of color, I crouch down and get curious. My motto is “look but don’t touch!” Foraging is prohibited in local open spaces and parks, and many are potentially fatal if ingested.

Recently, I discovered Noah Siegel and Christian Schwarz’s book, Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast. I realized there are so many varieties — some edible, some poisonous! — beyond what my grocery store has in stock. In fact, funguses are among us in the forests of Northern California, with appeals ranging from recreational foraging to medicinal treatments.

If you’re hoping to dive deep into the magical fungi kingdom, Siegel and Schwarz’s guide is jam-packed with information on over 750 species! In the meantime, we’ve put together a quick read on nine types of mushrooms that you can find in an open space near you — happy shrooming!

Learn Your Fungi Fundamentals!

Craving more mushroom in-spore-ation? Tune in to the live recording of our Fungi Fundamentals webinar, featuring a riveting discussion about mushrooms of the Bay Area with author Christian Schwarz himself! We explored the fundamentals of mushroom science and the Bay Area’s vast fungal landscape. And not only is Schwarz an informative speaker, but he’s also a fungi – sorry, fun guy. Don’t miss out! Watch the full recording here.


Fly agaric mushroom- Amanita muscaria - POST

Fly agaric 

Amanita muscaria

Popularized as the mushroom in Super Mario, the Smurfs and, most recently, as the mushroom emoji, the fly agaric needs little introduction. Interestingly, the common name comes from its ability to attract, intoxicate and paralyze flies if chopped and placed in a bowl of milk. Look for them in the leaf litter of our local pines (as pictured above).


Mock oyster mushroom - wild mushroom

Mock Oyster 

Phyllotopsis nidulans

A convincing look-alike to the edible and much loved oyster mushroom, this non-toxic species is distinctly lacking in culinary appeal and is known for its strong odor — an unappetizing, sulphureous stench of rotten cabbage. Regardless, its elegance is worth a moment of appreciation. Look for them in clusters on decaying wood.



Many of our local mushrooms are poisonous and potentially fatal if ingested. In addition, foraging in local open space preserves and parks is prohibited. Please respect all rules and regulations. 



Sulphur tuft wild mushroom - POST

Sulphur tufts

Hypholoma fasciculare

This wood-rotting fungus is not a fussy feeder, equally relishing hardwoods (oaks, maples, alders) as well as softwoods (pines, firs, cedars). They are saprobic, meaning they play a critical role in breaking down key nutrients on the forest floor. Look for them in clusters within rotting tree trunks and on dead roots.


Redwood rooter, wild mushroom - POST

Redwood rooter

Caulorhiza umbonate

True to its name, the redwood rooter is the only known species of medium to large fungi found at the feet of giant coastal redwoods. You’ll find their tall stems stretching high above the forest’s thick layer of redwood duff (needles and twigs). Look for them… well, maybe that’s obvious.


Shaggy mane, wild mushroom - POST

Shaggy mane

Coprinus comatus

This is an easy one to find and identify, often seen growing on lawns or along the side of the road. They are somewhat unique in that you can find them almost any month of the year when enough moisture is available, but they are most abundant at the start of winter rains. Look for them in lawns, playgrounds and along the side of the trail.


Western Jack-o-lantern, wild mushrooms - POST

Western jack-o-lantern

Omphalotus olivascens

It’s not just this mushroom’s orange color that makes it resemble a Halloween jack-o-lantern, it also glows in the dark. The lantern’s gills (pictured above) bioluminesce at the peak of their spore production. They are commonly mistaken for the popular chanterelle which looks very similar. Look for them with stands of oaks and eucalyptus.


Yellow fieldcap, wild mushroom - POST

Yellow fieldcap

Bolbitius titubans

This small, attractive mushroom is among the easier species to identify. Relish your encounter as their lifespan is short, opening in the morning and shriveling by the end of the day. Look for them in grass or growing in and around dung.


Turkey tail, wild mushroom - POST

Turkey tail

Trametes versicolor

Though fruiting during the fall and winter months, shelves of the colorful turkey tail can be found almost any month of the year. They have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, mostly for their immune-boosting benefits. Look for them in rows or overlapping shelves on stumps and logs.


Chanterelle, Cantharellus cibarius


Cantharellus californicus

A favorite among wild food foragers and the culinary elite, this mushroom is one of the most sought-after of local mushrooms. In fact, it’s so beloved that it was named the official mushroom of the state of California! Take a moment to enjoy their faint aroma of apricot. Look for them along the forest floor within stands of oak.



About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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