14 gorgeous mushrooms that show fungi’s glamorous side

1. Mushrooms are all too often relegated to the realm of dark and funky fungi, when in fact many are worthy of super-swooning.

The mushroom has kind of gotten a bad rap. While sweet-smelling flowers fill sunny meadows and are attended to by bees and butterflies, mushrooms inhabit the dark dank corners and are often burdened with sinister connotations. And ok, maybe they thrive on rot … and can be a bit slimy … and malodorous … and really quite lethal, but they have an essential role to play in the environment and many species outshine flowers in terms of odd beauty. So with that in mind, consider this a love letter from the fungus appreciation society, in which we show the gorgeous side of mushrooms.

1. A member of the genus Hericium

Above is a Hericium from the Hericiaceae family. Members of genus grow on dead or dying wood and have some of the most flamboyant fruiting bodies around! Boasting common names such as monkey’s head, lion’s mane, and bear’s head, they look like anything from a fountain of falling icicles to frozen fireworks to sea creatures.

2. Wrinkled peach (Rhodotus palmatus)

Also known as the netted rhodotus or the rosy veincap (so Victorian!), this gorgeously odd creature is beyond photogenic. But maybe not all the time? As the mushroom expert notes: "When it’s being picturesque, Rhodotus palmatus is a stunning and unmistakeable mushroom – or so they tell me. I wouldn’t know, since I only find it looking as though it has a droopy, slimy hangover." Awww, poor wrinkled peach.

3. Amethyst deceiver (Laccaria amethystina)

Ranging in cap size from .3 to 2.5 inches, amethyst deceivers can be found in deciduous as well as coniferous forests. And while the name of this purple beauty sounds like a femme fatale spy from an old intrigue novel, the truth is slightly less sexy – as L. amethystina ages, the signature hue fades, making it hard to identify.

4. Marasmius capillaris and Marasmius rotula

These two members of Marasmius are often confused for one another, and you can see why. They’re both so pretty that we’ve included them together. So sweet and delicate, and their dandelion-like proportions are a delight. M. rotula, on the right, is a common species in the Northern Hemisphere; it is commonly known as the pinwheel mushroom, the pinwheel marasmius, the little wheel, the collared parachute, or the horse hair fungus.

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