While most of us tend to only be familiar with mushrooms as the delicious pizza topping, there is more to fungus than this. There are plenty of weird and wonderful mushrooms and fungi in the wild. While some of these should not be eaten, they are fascinating to look at.
Today, I will look at some of the most bizarre mushrooms you will ever encounter. Check out these 11 weird fungi!
11 Unique And ‘Ugly’ Mushrooms
I find mushrooms and fungi very fascinating, but what I find even more fascinating is their looks.
After foraging and hunting mushrooms for years, I want to share my top 11 unique-looking mushrooms with you today. So, here they are:
#1. The Bearded Tooth Mushroom
This mushroom is edible, also often used in medicine. It has teeth-like ridges on the underside, wherein the spores are produced before they are released for reproduction
Fun Fact: They may be edible, but most except for the bearded tooth mushroom don’t taste good. The bearded tooth mushroom tastes like cooked lobster with butter.
#2. Hydnellum Pecki (The Weird Mushroom That Looks Like A Bleeding Tooth)
These mushrooms look like something fresh out of a horror movie. They are found across the world and should NOT be eaten. The bleeding tooth mushroom bleeds out a pigment that has anticoagulant abilities, working as a blood thinner.
The liquid that comes out is a sap. Sadly these mushrooms are not often seen at their best.
Fun Fact: These mushrooms are very bitter and should not be eaten. They are also usually embedded against woody debris so it is hard to find good-quality mushrooms.
#3. Indigo Milk Cap
This mushroom oozes a blue milky liquid when it is cut. It is found in North and Central America. It turns a gray-green-blue as it ages and is often used as a dye for textiles thanks to its vibrant pigmentation.
Fun Fact: These mushrooms are often eaten with scrambled eggs. Mixing them with eggs turns them green.
#4. Dead Man’s Toes/Fingers
This fungus looks like a zombie’s foot or hand. They arise in tufts of 3-6, bent and looking like black knuckles. They can look like a foot or a hand.
Fun Fact: These fungi are not toxic, however, beneath their surface are chambers lined with structures that produce spores. This means that they are not considered edible.
#5. Warted Puffball
The warted puffball is a saprobic fungus that lives off of decaying matter. It has the white coloring and consistency of a marshmallow. However, in older versions of this mushroom, the color may be yellow to grey-brown.
Fun Fact: This mushroom is edible. However, it looks a lot like earthballs which are toxic. These are usually black inside, unless they are young. It is important to ensure that you know the differences between the two.
#6.The Veiled Lady
The Veiled Lady is also known as the Bridal Veil Stinkhorn. Mature stinkhorns are phallic-shaped, getting as high as 15cm. These mushrooms are edible and are also seen as aphrodisiacs.
This mushroom is edible, used not only as an aphrodisiac but also in medicinal science. There was even an obscure study that saw the odors from this mushroom being able to promote female pleasure…If you know what I mean.
Fun Fact: These mushrooms only live for a few days maximum. Their viscous slime, which comes from the cap, attracts insects and allows for easier reproduction of the mushroom.
#7. Ghost Fungus
These fungi have bioluminescent properties, with a blue-green tinge that is only visible in low-light conditions. However, only the gills of the mushroom glow. It is worth noting that as is true for any mushroom that glows, this is not edible. It is deadly poisonous according to ScienceDirect.com.
Fun Fact: The mushroom can glow due to an enzyme known as luciferase, which enables it to glow like fireflies do!
#8. Wrinkled Peach Mushroom
These mushrooms like to grow on dead or rotting elm trees. Thanks to Dutch Elm disease they became fairly common, yet now they are a rarer find. They are often found from mid-summer to late fall. They’re easiest found due to their salmon pink colored caps.
Fun Fact: This mushroom is mainly found in the UK. It is not similar to any other mushroom in the UK. It is considered inedible, however, due to it being rubbery and bitter.
#9. Beefsteak Mushroom
Beefsteak has a slightly acidic taste, but it works well mixed with other mushrooms or in a creamy dish. These mushrooms also grow on trees and the trees which do develop beefsteak mushrooms get a brown rot.
In their youth, beefsteak mushrooms look like tongues protruding from the tree, however, as they age they look more like a slab of raw meat.
Fun Fact: The body of the mushroom is shaped like a tongue. It is usually red/pink in color and is sticky and moist. This mushroom looks like raw meat.
#10. Devils Fingers
This fungus is hard not to notice due to its vibrant red color and horrific stench like rotting meat. The fingers of this fungus look like starfish arms, they produce a slime that attracts bugs which then spread the spores of fungus when they fly off.
It is also known as Octopus Fungus thanks to its appearance. They also enjoy warm temperatures, which means that in spaces such as the UK which are not super warm. However, global warming could see an increase in this fungus in spaces that are usually cooler according to a study published in March 2021.
Fun Fact: These fungi were first noticed in the UK, but they are believed to have originated in Australia.
#11. Dung Cannon
These fungi get their name from their favorite place to grow- Dung. However, the other part of their name comes from their reproduction, as they launch their spores with more speed than a gun shoots a bullet!
Although its spore release is invisible to the naked eye, the rate of travel is around 82 ft per second, although it can only travel 6ft. Spores are launched towards the brightest light, which usually results in them landing on surrounding vegetation according to sciencebuddies.org.
This means that the spores are usually eaten by animals, passing through their digestive tracts, which results in the fungi starting its growth cycle inside the fecal matter of the animal.
Fun Fact: These fungi are the fastest-growing living being on this planet.
There are many types of fungus in our world, some look like the traditional mushrooms we are used to seeing on our grocery store shelves. However, many fungi look totally unique, with weird shapes, with weird properties. From blood-like ooze to bioluminescence, and even shapes similar to slabs of raw beef.
No matter how normal or weird a mushroom may be, always ensure that you are familiar with it before you try to eat it. Many have non-edible look-alikes, so it is better to be safe!