Want to Know More About Mushrooms? This Glossary Will Help!

Elizabeth Marglin

by | Read time: 6 minutes

No longer relegated as outliers, mushrooms are enjoying a shroom boom. They are the fungus among us, speaking to us of earthly delights and ancient health elixirs. Whether you are drawn to the health benefits of mushrooms, their umami flavor profile, their therapeutic and psychedelic potential, or as a DIY home project, they are quite literally popping up everywhere. With countless kinds of mushrooms, the possibilities are endless and at times, perplexing. This glossary will help you get a handle on the flavor profiles and characteristics of the most popular mushroom varieties.

Assorted Mushrooms and Herbs on Cutting Board with Knife to Represent List of Mushrooms Glossary | Vitacost.com/blog

List of Mushrooms


Alternate Names: Buna shimeji, beech brown mushroom, clamshell mushroom

Flavor profile: Cooked, these crunchy brown-capped clusters are crunchy with a sweet nuttiness.

Health benefits: Beech mushrooms are a good source of protein and an excellent source of dietary fiber. They also contain many of the B vitamins, potassium, zinc and copper.

Bonus fact: The mushrooms are called “Beech mushrooms” because in the wild, they often grow on fallen Beech trees in Japan.


Alternate names: Able mushroom, cultivated mushroom, button, champignon

Flavor profile: The most common and mildest-tasting mushroom around.

Health benefits: White mushrooms are rich in many bioactive compounds that may protect against cancer and heart disease, as well as help improve blood sugar control and gut health.

Bonus Fact: Ninety percent of the mushrooms we eat are button.

OM Organic Mushroom Nutrition Supplement Powder - Chaga | Vitacost.com/blogChaga

Alternate Names: Black mass, clinker polypore, birch canker polypore, cinder conk and the sterile conk trunk rot (of birch)

Flavor profile: It has a somewhat earthy flavor with a slight bitterness.

Health benefits: Chaga mushrooms contain many antioxidants that may help support healthy cholesterol levels.

Bonus fact: The chaga mushroom grows on birch trees throughout the northern hemisphere. It resembles a dark clump of dirt more than a mushroom, but is distinguished by its orange tissue.


Alternate Names: Golden, yellow, egg mushroom, girolle, pfifferling

Flavor profile: Golden-hued, fleshy and firm, they’re described as both peppery and fruity.

Health benefits: They are an excellent source of polysaccharides such as chitin and chitosan. These two compounds help to protect your cells from damage and stimulate your immune system to produce more cells.

Bonus fact: According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, chanterelles are often used to treat eye conditions such as night blindness and eye inflammation.


Alternate Names: Dong Chong Xia Cao (caterpillar in winter, grass in summer), caterpillar mushroom, Ophiocordyceps sinensis

Flavor profile: Cordyceps have a savory umami-quality and a deep earthy-nutty flavor.

Health benefits: Promotes healthy energy levels by improving the way your body can utilize oxygen.

Bonus fact: So valued is wild cordyceps in China that a kilogram often costs in excess of $20,000.


Alternate Names: Referred to as cremino, common brown and Roman, are commonly marketed as “baby bella” or “baby portobello” mushrooms because they are just that — a juvenile portobello mushroom.

Flavor profile: A cremini is a young portobello. Although the cremini is darker, firmer and more flavorful than its cousin the white button mushroom, the two can be used interchangeably.

Health benefits: Eating cremini mushrooms could potentially boost your immune system. Like many other mushroom types, creminis contain a significant amount of helpful bacteria. Some of this bacterium is beneficial to the microbiome found in the human digestive tract.

Bonus fact: The ancient Egyptians considered mushrooms, such as cremini mushrooms, to be a food that promoted immortality and were worthy of being included in diets fed to royal leaders.

Eden Foods Organic Dried Sliced Mushrooms Maitake | Vitacost.com/blogMaitake

Alternate Names: Champignon Dansant, Champignon des Fous Dansants, Champignon Maitake, Dancing Mushroom, Grifola, Grifola frondosa, Hen of the Woods, Hongo Maitake, King of Mushrooms, Maitake, Monkey’s Bench, Mushroom, Roi des Champignons, Shelf Fungi

Flavor profile: Maitake mushrooms are succulent, semi-firm and chewy with a woodsy, earthy and spicy flavor.

Health benefits: Maitake mushrooms have been studied for their ability to promote immune health. Maitake is also touted as a natural remedy for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol support.

Bonus fact: “Maitake” means dancing mushroom in Japanese. The mushroom is said to have gotten its name after people danced with happiness upon finding it in the wild.


Alternate Names: Common morel, true morel, morel mushroom, yellow morel, sponge morel, Molly Moocher, haystack and dryland fish

Flavor profile: Morels are considered top-tier mushrooms, due to their depth and earthy, nutty flavor. They also have a meaty texture, unlike the slimier texture of other mushroom varieties.

Health benefits: They are rich in nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber and minerals such as iron, copper, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and potassium. They have antiviral, antioxidant and immunoregulatory activity that may help with healthy immunity.

Bonus fact: Morels carry the highest amount of vitamin-D among the edible mushrooms.


Alternate Names: Pleurotus ostreatus, the oyster mushroom or oyster fungus

Flavor profile: The taste of oyster mushrooms is very mild and some describe it as subtly woody or like seafood.

Health benefits: Thanks to their high content of antioxidants as well as their anti-inflammatory properties, oyster mushrooms have been studied for their influence on cellular health.

Bonus fact: Oyster mushrooms get their name because of their resemblance to fresh-shucked oysters.


Alternate Names: King bolete, penny bun, cèpe (in French), Steinpilz (the “stone mushroom” in German), dajiao gu

Flavor profile: Porcini mushrooms are often described as nutty and earthy with a meatiness in flavor and texture.

Health benefits: The top benefits of eating porcini mushrooms include their ability to help maintain a healthy weight, support immune health and promote a healthy inflammatory response in the body.

Bonus fact: The name porcini means “piglets” in Italian.


Alternate Names: Cremini, button, table mushroom

Flavor profile: Portabella mushrooms have a memorable chewy and meaty texture and a smoky, earthy flavor.

Health benefits: Portobellos are an excellent source of riboflavin, a vitamin that is important for energy production because it helps the body break down carbohydrates into sugar for fuel.

Bonus fact: Portobellos, creminis, and button mushrooms are all Agaricus bisporus, in fact, just different ages: button mushrooms, which are white, are the toddlers; cremini mushrooms, which are brown, are the teenagers; and portobellos, which are brown and much larger versions of their younger selves, are the adults.

Traditional Medicinals Organic Reishi Mushroom with Rooibos & Orange Peel Tea | Vitacost.com/blogReishi

Alternate Names: Champignon Basidiomycète, Champignon d’Immortalité, Ganoderma, Ganoderma lucidum, Hongo Reishi, Ling Chih, Ling Zhi, Mannentake

Flavor profile: Reishi mushroom is a fungus. Some people describe it as “tough” and “woody” with a bitter taste. It is not a culinary mushroom and tends to be ground to a powder and used in supplements.

Health benefits: This variety is trendy right now for its potential immune system and cardiovascular benefits. Reishi mushrooms also contain ganoderic acid, a substance that may help support healthy cholesterol levels.


Alternate Names: sawtooth oak mushroom, black forest mushroom, black mushroom, golden oak mushroom or oakwood mushroom

Flavor profile: Shiitake mushrooms are known for their strong, earthy flavor. They’re packed with umami thanks to the amino acid glutamate. When cooked, shiitake caps have velvety, meaty texture.

Health benefits: Shiitakes are a good source of soluble fiber, which supports healthy cholesterol levels. Shiitakes contain a compound called lentinan, which helps to support the immune system.

Bonus fact: Shiitake mushrooms have been cultivated in China for at least six hundred years, but they were not grown in the United States until 1972, when a ban on importing live shiitake cultures was lifted.


Alternate Names: In addition to tuber, many other genera of fungi are classified as truffles including Geopora, Peziza, Choiromyces, and Leucangium.

Flavor profile: Some may describe the taste of black truffles as a mixture of chocolaty, nutty and earthy and others may describe it as having a subtle woody flavor mixed with a slight mushroom taste. They are often described as having a slight garlicky flavor similar to shallots with a deep musky aroma.

Health benefits: Lycopene and gallic acid are some of the antioxidants present in truffles, which offer benefits such as supporting cell health, decreasing inflammation and supporting liver health.

Bonus fact: European white truffles can sell for as much as $3,600 a pound, making them and their fellow fungi the most expensive food in the world.

Jarrow Formulas Mushroom Optimizer® | Vitacost.com/blogOther mushroom terms to know:


Mycelium is the threadlike, vegetative part of a mushroom. It functions as the feeding structure of a fungus. Its fibrous structure maximizes contact with the food source.

Mycorrhizal fungi

Mycorrhizal refers to the underground vegetative growth of the mushroom, called the mycelia, which enters into a symbiotic relationship with the roots of plants.


A mushroom spore is a unicellular organism responsible for the reproductive processes in mushroom producing fungi. Spores are located on the underside of the mushroom cap, in the gills, teeth or pores of the mushroom. When the spores of a mushroom are released, they may travel a certain distance before they land. The single cell then sends out hyphae to help establish the fungus and gather food.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.