Reviewing the world's edible mushroom species: A new evidence-based classification system

Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2021 Mar;20(2):1982-2014. doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12708. Epub 2021 Feb 18.


Wild mushrooms are a vital source of income and nutrition for many poor communities and of value to recreational foragers. Literature relating to the edibility of mushroom species continues to expand, driven by an increasing demand for wild mushrooms, a wider interest in foraging, and the study of traditional foods. Although numerous case reports have been published on edible mushrooms, doubt and confusion persist regarding which species are safe and suitable to consume. Case reports often differ, and the evidence supporting the stated properties of mushrooms can be incomplete or ambiguous. The need for greater clarity on edible species is further underlined by increases in mushroom-related poisonings. We propose a system for categorizing mushroom species and assigning a final edibility status. Using this system, we reviewed 2,786 mushroom species from 99 countries, accessing 9,783 case reports, from over 1,100 sources. We identified 2,189 edible species, of which 2,006 can be consumed safely, and a further 183 species which required some form of pretreatment prior to safe consumption or were associated with allergic reactions by some. We identified 471 species of uncertain edibility because of missing or incomplete evidence of consumption, and 76 unconfirmed species because of unresolved, differing opinions on edibility and toxicity. This is the most comprehensive list of edible mushrooms available to date, demonstrating the huge number of mushrooms species consumed. Our review highlights the need for further information on uncertain and clash species, and the need to present evidence in a clear, unambiguous, and consistent manner.

Keywords: edibility; foraging; mycology; poisonous mushrooms; wild foods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agaricales*
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Mushroom Poisoning* / epidemiology