Photograph & Collect

Before You Head Out

Photography: Minimum required

Photography: Advanced

At Home

Collecting Permits

An iNaturalist Introduction to Mushrooming (2017, 6:13 min)
Christian Schwarz offers pointers on how to find and document mushrooms using iNaturalist.

Before You Head Out


    • A basket, (waxed) paper bags and/or a tackle box to keep fungi separated and in good condition 
  • A smartphone with a camera, or a compact or DSLR camera 
    • Smartphone cameras automatically add GPS coordinates to images (valuable location information). They also allow for direct upload to iNaturalist, vs doing it at home.
    • Compact or DSLR cameras offer higher image quality. Some cameras have GPS and macro capabilities, like the Olympus TG-6 (Tough Series),  a favorite among mycophiles.

Nice to have

  • Hand lens/loupe
  • Large knife and/or trowel (for digging mushrooms out of soil or wood)
  • Small utility or pocket knife
  • Field notebook (waterproof paper and pen are best)
  • Numbered FunDiS field data slips with ruler markings (in a Ziploc bag in case it rains)
  • Numbered collection labels (if field data slips are not used)
  • Small ruler with metric markings (if ruled field data slips are not used or for large fungi)

Collecting Permits

It is up to you to find out if access permission or collecting permits are required and to obtain them. More information below.

In the Field

Photography: Minimum required

Photos not meeting these minimal standards risk not being identified.

  • Clear, in-focus picture(s)
  • Fungus sporing body is large in the frame 
  • Fungus features (see Photo Tips in our July 2019 eNewsletter)
    • Show cap, pore/gill surface, stem
    • If applicable show bulb/volva, staining, discoloration
  • An item like a knife or ruler or field data slip for scale
  • The host or substrate should also be visible.
    • This can be accomplished with one shot with specimens that show the above, plus environmental cues, such as leaves, needles or grass; or with several shots
  • If smell or taste are noteworthy this should be added in the Notes section

 New To Mushroom Hunting? Start Here! (30 min)
Adam Haritan from Learn Your Land


Photography: Advanced

Take photographs of the mushroom where you found it. This is important because some features like color or delicate tissue may change or degrade, to capture information about the habitat, and to attach GPS coordinates to your image.

Before collecting

  • Take photographs of the mushroom in place, before digging it up/removing it.
  • If your fungus is dirty, gently clean it before photographing it.

After removing

  • Dig the specimen up gently using a knife or trowel, make sure to get bulb/volva/root if present.
  • Photograph the specimen from multiple angles: top, side and underside (gills/pores).
  • For some genera it is important to cut the stipe vertically and photograph
  • Photograph staining, bruising and oozing of cap, stipe, and gills, noting initial color and changes.
  • Photograph multiple growth stages if available and in one image if possible
  • Stand back and photograph the habitat; include an image of bark and leaves if you cannot identify major trees or shrubs nearby.
  • Size: photograph the mushroom with a field data slip, which has metric scales on two edges -- or with a ruler (6 inch rulers with metric scales are handy).
  • Put each specimen (or several of the same species collected in the same spot) into a separate bag in your basket or compartment in your tackle box (essential for reducing contamination during sequencing).

Field data slips are optional. Why use them?Amanita with Voucher Slip

  • To associate photos with collected specimens when you get back home, for identification and for adding description information to iNaturalist & Mushroom Observer. 
  • To improve photo-documentation skills by providing an ever-present checklist in the field of what to pay attention to and photograph.
  • To capture size information.
  • To associate photos with specimens after drying, if you plan on sequencing or vouchering.

Getting the permanent iNat observation number in the field

This especially helpful for group projects if you are using the iNaturalist app in the field (and have cell service):

  • Take a photo of the specimen and upload it to iNaturalist.
    • Click on the photo and the image will show up at the top of your screen
    • In the upper right corner of that image, touch the little "share" symbol.
    • Select the email icon; the permanent number is at the end of the URL that is now pasted in an email.  Write this down and delete the email.
  • Take more photos, edit and upload them at home.

Record information

Using field data slips and/or maintaining a notebook are not required but add to the scientific value of your collections as well as ease of organization. Many mycologists complete their descriptions at home. 

Note these features in the field or from your photographs

  • Substrate the mushroom was growing from (ground, wood species, etc.).
  • Trees nearby for soil-dwelling mushrooms.
  • Changes to flesh color on exposure to air, handling or breaking. 
  • If a cut oozes a fluid, record its color and how it changes in a few minutes.
  • Results of chemical tests.

Describe these features

  • Odor: Scratch or break a fungus or sniff the gills near the stipe (best done when the fungus is fresh).
  • Taste: Experienced mycologists taste a small bit of cap flesh on the tip of the tongue and spit it out. Don’t try this until you recognize common poisonous species.
  • Texture: note whether tough, fragile, crumbly, etc. If there are enough fruiting bodies, twist or snap a stipe to see how it breaks.

At Home 

Edit, organize and upload your images

See also: Describe & Identify

Collecting Permits

It is up to you to find out if access permission or collecting permits are required and obtain ethem. You don’t need a collecting permit if you only take photographs and are not collecting fungi but you might need an access permit.

Where are permits needed?

Permit requirements are highly variable by region, state and locality. They include:

  • Many parks; all national parks and monuments.
  • Some land managed by agencies such as the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management; most allow for personal or recreational use.
  • Tribal land and areas managed as reserves, conservancies, etc.
  • Privately owned land.

Why are permits needed? 

  • Some fungaria will not accept collections without evidence of a collecting permit.
  • You won’t get hassled/kicked off the land when you are collecting.
  • You might get special access, ability to drive on the land, ability to stay in research station housing, etc.

How do I secure a permit?

  • Determine who owns or manages the land where you’ll collect.
  • Find out about the land owner/manager’s permit opportunities and regulations, usually on-line, including how long it generally takes to be considered and receive your permit (can be many months).
  • Make personal contact with a manager, if possible, to learn more of what they need, timing, etc., and to develop a relationship.
  • Sometimes affiliating with a government agency, university or non-profit conservation organization will help. 
  • Being a recognized FunDiS project, especially with a sequence grant, can help your application.

About Fungal Diversity Survey

FunDiS is dedicated to a world in which the fungal kingdom is fully documented, understood, appreciated and protected.