What kind of mushroom is this?

No two mushroom names are the same!

Are we talking the same language?

It is a mess!

But, there is hope.


I recently read a headline talking about the increase in the demand for chestnut mushrooms. While reading the word chestnut mushroom, I had the following picture in mind (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Chestnut mushroom (Pholiota adiposa)

Figure 1: Chestnut mushroom (Pholiota adiposa)[1]

But the article was talking about the following mushroom (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Chestnut mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)[2]

Slightly different would be understated. These two fungi are a different species, but we are using the same name. The first mushroom sells under the name chestnut mushroom, the second under the name portobello mushroom or button mushroom. When naming both mushrooms, the same can lead to confusion. Not only for the customers but also beginner mushroom growers.

But it is getting even better. The fungi Kuritake is called Chestnut Mushroom, too[3]. The Latin name is Hypholoma lateritium. Now what?


But that is not the first time I am encountering this problem. If you are familiar with mushroom cultivation, especially Oyster mushrooms, then you probably know what I am talking about.

In the world of Oyster mushrooms, there is much misnaming going on. Some days ago, I was searching for the white oyster mushroom. Which picture comes into your mind? Precisely this one (Figure 3).

Figure 3: White Oyster Mushroom

Figure 3: White Oyster Mushroom[4]

But what species are we talking about? I found several fungi Pleurotus ostreatus, Pleurotus florida, and Pleurotus pulmonarius named white oyster mushroom. Even the whole genus Pleurotus sp. is called white oyster mushroom.

While they are similar, they will behave differently on different substrates and under different growing conditions. And here starts the problem. When, for example, two mushroom farmers are talking about the white oyster mushroom, they are growing, and one of them is using Pleurotus ostreatus and the other Pleurotus florida they will have a hard time figuring out what is going on.

Another one is Elm Oyster. The name suggests that this mushroom is part of the Pleurotus family, but it is a different species. The Latin name is Hypsizygus ulmarius.


The same is true for Pleurotus sajor-caju. The correct name is since 1975, Lentinus sajor-caju, but many are still using until today the old name.

Some mushroom cultivators even use the name Peurotus sajor-caju for the warm weather variety of the species Pleurotus pulmonarius[5],[6].


The next on the list is Cordyceps sinensis. This highly valuable fungi generally found in Tibet is now reaching a tipping point towards commercial production. Mostly because of the spreading of its healthy properties. According to an article in Inverse, what is typically produced is the strain called Cordyceps sinensis CS-4.

But what you are really getting is Paecilomyces hepialid (Chen) a totally different fungu[7]. Scientists have discarded Paecilomyces hepiali (Chen) as an anamorph of Ophiocordyceps sinensis because the rDNA-ITS analysis showed only a match of 72%. The only true anamorph of this species with a rDNA-ITS match of over 99% is Hirsutella sinensis[8].

This difference between the Cordyceps sinensis CS-4 and the true Cordyceps seams according to the mentioned article well known to the growers, but they keep hiding the truth or are trying to somehow refer to the original.

In another scientific paper[9] which I found stated that the CS-4 was isolated from Chinese cordyceps but should be regarded as an independent cordyceps fungus other than associated fungus of Chinese cordyceps.

This means it is a cordyceps but not the Chinese cordyceps and shouldn’t, therefore, referred to the original.


This article and the following list are not exhaustive but a starting point.

Please help your colleagues and write below in the comment section mismatches you have encountered. I will update this list from time to time.


Names What they mean
Chestnut mushroom Pholiota adiposa Hypholoma lateritium (Kuritake) Agaricus bisporus (Button mushroom)
White Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus Pleurotus pulmonarius Pleurotus ostreatus var. florida Pleurotus sp.
Elm Oyster True species: Hypsizygus ulmarius
Pleurotus sajor-caju Used sometimes instead of the true name Pleurotus pulmonarius True species: Lentinus sajor-caju (1975)
Cordyceps sinensis CS-4 True species: Paecilomyces hepialid (Chen)

Table 1: Names and what you will get

[1] Source

[2] Source

[3] Paul Stamets (2000) Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms

[4] Source

[5] Source

[6] Source

[7] Chioza 2014

[8] Chioza 2014

[9] Dong 2015

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