Mushroom Family: Types, Kingdom, Classifications, Species

The types of mushrooms are at the lowest level of their classification, which determines a specific species with individual characteristics that are part of the corresponding genus and family. About the different classifications of mushrooms, as well as some of the most famous types of mushrooms and the families to which they belong.

mushroom family

Mushroom Family and Kingdom

Fungi are extremely ancient organisms, whose age on our planet is at least 900 million years old, and incredibly diverse – about 100 thousand of their species have now been described, but it is well known that there are at least three times more of them. Scientists – mycologists are constantly discovering and describing new types of forest gifts, but the number of so far unknown species is still greater than those described and studied, therefore the Kingdom of Mushrooms is, to a fair degree, an unknown and mysterious territory.

Want to know about Edible Mushrooms that Grow on Trees.

What are mushrooms?

The scientific definition of mushrooms goes like this:

“Fungi are heterotrophic eukaryotic organisms with an exclusively osmotrophic diet.” What does this mean?

This means that the gifts of the forest, as a type of organism:

  • Cells have a separate nucleus.
  • There is no ability to obtain nutrients through photosynthesis, like plants.
  • There is the ability to extract food from the external environment by absorption.

Due to the similar arrangement of mushrooms, they have the following features:

  • The body of the fungus is usually the so-called mycelium or unicellular thallus, completely immersed in the substrate, which allows it to extract nutrients as efficiently as possible from the entire surface of its body.
  • The immersion of the mycelium in the substrate causes difficulties with reproduction, therefore the reproductive organs of most fungi are carried out above the surface of the substrate, forming complex structures – fruit bodies, which we usually call mushrooms.
  • The substrate, inside which the mycelium is located, often contains nutrients in the form of biopolymers – proteins and polysaccharides, which are unsuitable for their direct absorption through the cell membrane. In order to absorb food, the mycelium secretes hydrolases or depolymerases into the substrate, which play the role of digestive enzymes.
  • To absorb water with nutrients from the environment, a much higher internal pressure is created inside the cells of fungi than in the cells of other eukaryotic organisms.

Not easy at all

The science of mushrooms -mycology – is not the most accurate of the sciences. There are a huge number of very similar species and subspecies of mushrooms, and even scientists are not always able to accurately separate them from each other. Sometimes the difference between one species and another is determined only on the basis of features that can be seen exclusively through an electron microscope. At the everyday level, it is still more difficult – among the gifts of the forest there are many species – twins, which may not be related at all, but be very similar to each other. Moreover, one of these doubles can be an excellent edible mushroom, and the other is a deadly poison. That is why it is so important, when collecting mushrooms, to always know the detailed external signs of specific species.

Classification of mushroom species

The types of mushrooms known to man are classified according to various characteristics, for example, according to the structure and level of complexity of their device:

  1. Higher Mushrooms
    • Hat
    • Moldy
  2. Lower Mushrooms
    • Multicellular
    • Unicellular

This table shows the differences between higher and lower mushrooms.

Higher MushroomsLower Mushrooms
Hyphae are divided into individual
cells with one or more nuclei
Hyphae are one branched
cell with a large number
of nuclei
Classes of higher mushrooms
Classes of lower mushrooms

By the way of nutrition, types of mushrooms are divided into:

  • Saprophytes – feeding on dead organic debris.
  • Parasites – living on living organisms.

According to the degree of edibility, mushrooms are divided into:

  • Edible – the first category, edible even raw.
  • Conditionally edible – requiring special preparation before eating.
  • Inedible – not containing any poison, but not edible due to its physical properties.
  • Poisonous – containing poisons dangerous to humans.

According to the structure of the spore-bearing layer – the hymenophore, the gifts of the forest are divided into:

  • Smooth is the simplest type that does not have a developed surface. This type is usually found in marsupials and is localized on the upper surface of the cap, as, for example, in morels.
  • Folded – it is located below the cap and looks like a chaotic accumulation of wrinkled radial folds. This type of hymenophore is common, usually in clavate and prostrate fruiting bodies, but it also occurs in caps. An example is the common chanterelle.
  • Spiny – which consists of conical or needle-shaped spines. It is usually located on the underside of the cap. Most often, this type of hymenophore is found in the prostrate, bushy and cap-legged fruit bodies. An example is a yellow flywheel.
  • Tubular or porous, which is always on the lower surface of the cap or sessile fruiting body and is a collection of tubules that open downward. This type of hymenophore is found in boletes and tinder fungi. The tubules, as a rule, form a monotonous accrete mass, only in the liverwort they do not grow together with their lateral surfaces and they are easy to separate from each other. The size and shape of the pores matters. They are round, regular, or angular. Their color can also be very different from the color of the porous surface itself.
  • Labyrinth is a type of tubular type that is found in some families of tinder fungi with sessile fruiting bodies. The pores, in this case, are elongated in the radial direction, and the walls of the tubules in some places are simply absent, at times they are so deformed that in appearance such a surface looks more like a lamellar or folded hymenophore.
  • Lamellar is the most common type of hymenophore in cap mushrooms. The plates are outgrowths of tissue on the lower surface of the cap, radially diverging from the center. Their main identifying features, which differ in different species, are the density of their location and the degree of connection with the stem. Some species simultaneously have plates of different lengths – normal, reaching the leg, shortened ones – not reaching it, and even shorter small plates. In some species, the plates also have transverse bridges or branch, in others, one can observe a collarium – a ring around the leg, to which the plates grow.

Here is Blue Milk Mushroom detail guide.

Famous Mushroom families

All types of mushrooms known to man are divided according to the following hierarchy:

  • Group – on the arrangement of fruiting bodies.
  • Department – on the basis of general characteristics of origin and structure.
  • Class – in form, type and methods of reproduction.
  • Order – according to the type of hymenophore device – spore-bearing layer.
  • Family – according to the general features of the structure.
  • Genus – by proximity in origin.
  • Type – by individual characteristics.

Here, too, not everything and it is not always clear, and some types of fungi are included in one or another genus or family for mycology, such a variable situation is quite normal, because scientists regularly discover new data on this or that type of mushroom, often completely changing ideas about him.

One of the most important gradations in this taxonomy of fungi are families that are often very diverse and extensive and include species, the proximity of which is sometimes very difficult to guess. 

Among the numerous families of the Kingdom of Mushrooms, it makes sense to highlight the following:

Agaric or Champignon

This family includes the famous gourmet champignons, as well as the deadly poisonous Lepiota Brown-Red. In species belonging to this family, the hymenophore is of the lamellar type.

Amanitaceae, also known as Fly agaric

It is to this family that the main killer of the world of mushrooms belongs – the Pale Toadstool, as well as the famous Red Amanita. In species belonging to this family, the lamellar type of hymenophore, and the ovoid volva remain at the base of the leg.


This family includes many of the most famous species, including the king of mushrooms – Borovik, as well as boletus and boletus. In the species of this family, the tubular type of hymenophore, and the fruiting bodies, usually reach impressive sizes.


The famous chanterelles belong to this family, and the species included in it have a folded, grooved or smooth hymenophore.

Oil cans

This family includes the distant relatives of the boletus – the famous boletus. In species belonging to this family, the hymenophore is of the tubular type.


This family includes the famous Asian delicacy Shiitake and, so familiar to everyone, Lugovoy Openok. In the species belonging to this family, the hymenophore is of the lamellar type, and some of them have the ability to luminescence.

Ordinary or Tricholomovy

An extremely diverse and numerous family, which includes many of the species of honey agarics, as well as numerous ryadovki and talkers, so well known to the Russian collector. The species belonging to this family have a lamellar hymenophore.


The famous spring morels belong to this family. In species belonging to this family, the spore-bearing layer is located not on the lower, but on the upper surface of the cap.


This family includes the legendary hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms, which are usually small in size and noticeably fragile.

Russula or Russulaceae

This family includes the famous russula and lactarius, which are distinguished by the presence of a special milky juice in their fruiting bodies.


This family includes two famous species of honey agarics – Osenny Openok and Winter Openok.

A huge variety of mushroom species growing on our Earth is still waiting for its researchers, ready to infinitely divide them into varieties and categories, to deal with their exact names and differences between one species and another.