With Thousands Of Species To Find, Mushrooming Can Be A Fungi Outdoor Activity

By: Allison Eckstein, Gateway Regional High School, Woodbury Heights

There are over 2,515 different species of wild mushrooms within the New Jersey region. Photo credit: Allison Eckstein.

SOUTH JERSEY — A mushroom walks into a bar, he asks if he can sit next to a guy, but the guy says no. The mushroom then says, “Why? I’m a fungi!” 

Since mushrooms certainly can’t talk, though it would make life a little more interesting, they do have a certain draw to them, at least, for mushroom hunters they do. Much like the regular hunter, a mushroom hunter goes searching the woods to find their prize. Only, once they catch it, it’s a little more PG to watch. Mushroom hunting or mushrooming, is a hiking hobby many people have picked up over the years. People explore the woods in search of wild mushrooms to gather.  Some will eat their finds while others just seek them out for the thrill of it.

Though this hobby may seem unconventional to some, it does come with its benefits. If you happen to stumble upon a non poisonous mushroom, here are some of the health benefits According to UCLA health:

  • Decreased risk of cancer
  • Source of vitamin D 
  • Protects brain health
  • Stimulates a healthy gut 
  • Supports a healthy immune system

Mushrooms carry many benefits with them, but only if you find the right kind. Over the years the Northeast Mythological Federation has identified over 2,515 different species of wild mushrooms within the New Jersey region. Most mushrooms have very different and unique shapes and sizes, and this make it very difficult to differentiate between a poisonous mushroom and an edible one. According to NorthJersey.com the deadliest mushrooms are called the Amanita bisporigera and Amanita virosa. The Bisporigera is often confused with the puffball-like non-deadly mushrooms called Agaricus silvicola. The Virosa or, the “destroying angel,” as many like to call it, often is confused with its more friendly, less dangerous, cousin the Lepiota Procera or the Parasol Mushroom. 

Despite the dangers of mushroom hunting, many hikers still love it. When asked what mushroom hunters like about mushrooming, Pablo Paldao, from Mushroom Hunters on Facebook, said, “Even when unsuccessful, you’re still getting the benefits of enjoying being outdoors. It’s a win-win.”  

Even if you find poisonous mushrooms that you can’t take with you, being in nature will help with your mental and physical health. Fall is a great time to go for a hike and find your own friendly fungi. Good luck! 

Follow South Jersey provides local journalism which highlights our diverse communities; fosters transparency through robust, localized, and vital reporting that holds leaders and institutions accountable; addresses critical information needs; supports people in navigating civic life; and equips people with the information necessary to partake in effective community engagement. If there is a story or event you think we should cover, please send your tips to news@followsouthjersey.com with “NEWS” in the subject line.