While we were hiking through the woods surrounding Wonderopolis the other day, we overheard a tree talking to a flower.

Tree:                 Hey Flower!

Flower:             Howdy Tree!

Tree:                 Did you see Mushroom this morning?

Flower:             No. What was he doing?

Tree:                 He was getting ready to go to a party. He’s so lucky.

Flower:             I know! It’s no WONDER why he gets invited to all the parties, though.

Tree:                 Why?

Flower:             Because he’s a fungi!

Get it? He’s a fun…guy! OK, so that’s an old joke, but we thought it was perfect for today’s Wonder of the Day!

Do you like mushrooms? These edible goodies are a tasty part of all sorts of treats, from pizza and casseroles to soups and salads. But what exactly are they?

Mushrooms are the fleshy, fruiting bodies of fungi. Did you realize that when you put a mushroom on your pizza that you’re eating a fungus? It’s true! And it tastes so good.

When you think of a mushroom, you may think of a simple white mushroom that grows above the ground with a stem and a cap with pores or gills. There are actually many different types of mushrooms, though. Some have stems and caps and some don’t.

Some mushrooms are called toadstools. This nickname probably came from the fact that they looked just like a perfect spot for a toad to sit!

Some people believe that the term “toadstool” means a mushroom that is poisonous. This belief may have come from the fact that many toads were considered highly poisonous.

However, there are actually many misconceptions out there about toadstools. For example, not all toadstools are toxic. Moreover, many mushrooms are deadly.

While some mushrooms are tasty treats, several types of mushrooms are poisonous and can be deadly to human beings. As a general rule, never eat wild mushrooms. Stick to what you find in grocery stores.

Others believe toadstools are all mushrooms that have the typical stem and cap. One mushroom often considered a toadstool is Amanita muscaria, a red-capped, stemmed mushroom often seen in fairy tales.

To get to the bottom of the confusion, here are some simple facts to remember about mushrooms and toadstools:

  • Mushrooms and toadstools are the same. There’s no scientific difference between them.
  • Mushrooms and toadstools cannot be defined by or distinguished from one another by shape, color or appearance.
  • Not all toadstools are poisonous and not all mushrooms are safe to eat.

So when should you call a mushroom a toadstool? It’s up to you. If it looks like a good spot for a toad to sit, then go ahead and call it a toadstool. No one will mind!

52 Join the Discussion

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    • Hey Ana, thanks for telling us how you feel about our mushroom Wonder today! Isn’t it crazy that we cook and eat things that are considered fungi? We look forward to our next Wonder of the Day®– we think you did a great job using context clues to form your guess! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Ms. Bayko’s Class! It’s so cool that you polled your class to find out how many people are mushroom lovers! We Wonder how many students are in your class… what is the percentage of mushroom lovers? :)

      Thanks for sharing your super guesses with us! See you tomorrow! :)

  1. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Only 4 people in our entire class like to eat mushrooms, that means 16 people do not like to eat mushrooms. We learned that they are called toadstools because they look like the perfect spot for a toad to sit on. We also learned there is no difference between a mushroom and a toadstool. We thought it was interesting that some mushrooms are deadly. We wonder if there are still undiscovered species of mushrooms. We also wonder how many species there are. We think tomorrow’s wonder is about baby’s skin, silk or glass.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Chevalier’s Class! It’s so cool that your classroom took a poll of your love of mushrooms! It sounds like 1/5, or 20%, of you enjoy mushrooms! It sounds like you and our Wonder Friends in Ms. Bayko’s Class are on the same page today! :)

      We think it’s cool that you have been thinking of all types of mushrooms, including those that we may not be familiar with today! Keep up the WONDERing, perhaps we have a mushroom expert among us! Thanks for visiting us today! :)

    • That sounds like a great idea, Kate! It’s cool that you’ve been thinking of the other uses for toadstools– we bet toads appreciate the shade once in a while! Great idea, Kate! :)

    • We’re so glad to hear it, Michael! It’s so cool that you learned something new at Wonderopolis today! Have you seen a toadstool in person? Is there one close to your house or school? :)

    • What a WONDERful question, Bubba! We LOVE colors of all kinds, so it’s difficult to pick just one. We LOVE ROY G BIV… the colors of the rainbow! Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet! How about you, Bubba? What’s your favorite color or colors? :)

    • Great connection, Jusin! Thanks for sharing your comment with us… are you thinking about the awesome duo Mario and Luigi? They are very cool! We’re glad you have been thinking of symbols and what they stand for– just like the toadstool! :)

  2. I liked today’s wonder a lot! When my family used to live in the mountains, we had a really big yard, and we lived at the edge of a forest, we had a dried up creek in our yard, and we would always find big white toadstools in our yard near the dried up creek. We used to build fairy houses out of the sticks that were on the ground, and we would always build the houses near the toadstools. We don’t live there anymore, but in our neighborhood, me and my little brothers found an enourmous silvery toadstool. We sometimes find little white ones in our yard, too. Thank you for today’s wonder! :) ;)

    • WOW, you are a great storyteller, Berkleigh! We can picture your house and your backyard from your great description! WAY TO GO! It sounds like you and your siblings enjoy using your imaginations together, like when you built fairy houses! Thank you so much for telling us all about your very own toadstool Wonder, Berkleigh! :)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Fourteen out of nineteen people in our class like mushrooms. We enjoy Moral hunting in the spring. They are good fried in butter! Heather likes to dip them in ketchup!

    We thought the toadstool looked like one from Smurf Village. Our parents and teacher love the Smurfs!

    We learned that there are many different kinds of mushrooms and that they can be used for medicine. Some of them could be deadly!

    We think Wonderopolis is awesome! We have begun wondering in other classes!

    We agree with you when you say that our teacher is awesome!

    Have a WONDERful day!
    Ms. Uppena’s Third Grade Super Sleuths

    • Hey Super Sleuths! WOW, you are the first group to report that the majority of Wonder Friends in your class like mushrooms! Thanks for polling your classroom and telling us how many of you enjoy mushrooms! It sounds like mushrooms are part of your springtime activities– how cool! We are going to try mushrooms in new ways thanks to your awesome suggestions!

      Thank you so much for telling us all about what you learned with us today! We think it’s WONDERful that you’ve been taking your imaginations to other classes, too! WOOHOO for all of you! See you soon, Super Sleuths and Ms. Uppena! :-)

    • Great minds think alike, Leigh! We’re glad this Wonder made you think of something else, just like Jusin mentioned! Mario and Luigi have come up a lot today! Thanks for visiting us today! :)

    • We’re so glad to hear that this Wonder made you smile, Crystal! Thanks for telling us! We think it’s great you’re using your imagination– it sounds like your idea for animals turning into mushrooms would be a cool part of a fairytale! While animals cannot turn into mushrooms in the real world, we think it can certainly happen in our imaginations! :)

    • The cool part about mushrooms is that there are even more to discover, Gabriel! We learned that some of our Wonder Friends, the Super Sleuths, search for a certain type of mushroom called a moral. They do this in the Spring with their family and friends!

      We are glad you’ve continued to Wonder about all the different types of mushrooms around, and those yet to be discovered, too! :)

    • We love all your awesome questions about Wonderopolis, Gabriel! The Wonder Friends at Wonderopolis spend their time doing lots of things… research, WONDERing, writing, editing, and posting Wonders, too! We go to the library, research our topics on the Internet, and speak to experts, too! We are so happy to have a great friend like you to Wonder with! What was your favorite part of our mushroom Wonder? Did you learn anything new? :)

  4. Hi Wonderopolis,
    We are wondering if there is any way to know the difference between a toxic and non-toxic mushroom?

    Thanks,
    Ms. Rehnke’s 2nd Grade Class

    • Hi there, Wonder Friends in Ms. Rehnke’s Class! We wish there was a way to tell the difference, but it takes an expert’s eye to determine the difference between toxic and non-toxic mushrooms! We Wonder if there are any students who are interested in becoming a mushroom expert? We bet you can help us! :)

    • Our Wonder hint was a bit tricky, we agree, Caroline! Thanks for sharing your comment– we’re glad you made the connection! :)

    • Thanks for telling us why you love mushrooms, Leticia! We agree- mushrooms go well on lots of different foods! We hope you enjoy the next Wonder… it’s a strong and super smooth! :)

  5. I love today’s wonder of the day it was nice to get to know all about toadstools tomorrow’s wonder of the day might be healthy food that is good for you or just food.

    • We’re so happy this toadstool Wonder made you smile, Akira! Thanks for sharing your comment with us… we bet you’ll enjoy the next smooth Wonder, too! We hope your day is WONDERful! :)

  6. Dear Wonderopolis

    I think the video was cool and scary. For tomorrow’s wonder I think it will be baby skin and silk.

    Have a good night.
    From k.b

    • What a great way to describe our Wonder video, K.B.– it did make us nervous in the beginning with all that lightening and thunder! We are glad you enjoyed WONDERing about mushrooms of all kinds with us! We think you’re on the right track for tomorrow’s smooth Wonder! Thanks for sharing your comment, K.B.! :)

  7. Dear wonderopolis we have two kids who wonder: where do all the mushrooms come from and where were toadstools discovered???

    From ,
    The first graders

    • Hello to our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Patsies’ class! We’re so glad you shared your very own Wonders with us! It depends on the type of mushroom, but Egyptians used to eat mushrooms as a delicacy– a type of food that is very special and rare! We Wonder if you can do some research using your library and Internet to find out more about the history of toadstools! Thanks for visiting us today! :)

    • WOW, the majority of Mrs. Patsies’ Class enjoy mushrooms! That’s the first time we’ve heard that! Thanks for WONDERing about mushrooms with us today! We can’t wait to see you again soon! :)

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thinks for the great wonder for today.

    I can’t believe that there is over 500 types of mushrooms. I thought there was only 50 types of mushrooms.

    • Thanks for telling us all about what you learned from our fungi Wonder today, Camille! We think it’s amazing that there are even MORE mushrooms to be discovered! We can’t wait to Wonder with you again soon! :)

    • Hey there, Amaryllis! We’re sorry to hear that you don’t enjoy mushrooms! Perhaps your tastebuds will change in the future! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is a toadstool?
  • Are all mushrooms edible?
  • Are all toadstools poisonous?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Care to explore toadstools and mushrooms further? Ask a friend or family member to join you on an expedition to check out one or more of the following activities:

  • Want to see some examples of the many types of mushrooms and toadstools? Jump online to check out the Mushroom and Toadstool Photo Gallery. Which ones are your favorites? Which ones look like they might be good to eat? Which ones would you avoid?
  • Ready to do some mushroom hunting? Mushrooms can be found in many different places around the world. Grab a friend or family member and ask them if they know of any good places to hunt for mushrooms. If you live near a wooded area, mushrooms may be easier to find. Unless you have an adult with you who is an expert on mushrooms, never eat any mushrooms you find. Be safe and go to the store if you’re hungry for mushrooms.
  • Speaking of being hungry for mushrooms, do you like them? How about on pizza? As part of another favorite dish? Here are a few recipes featuring mushrooms that you can try at home if you’re curious:

Still Wondering

Check out Science NetLinks’ Bioluminescent Mushroom Science Fact to learn more about the eternal light mushroom, a new species found in a Brazilian forest that emits a bright yellow-green light 24 hours a day from its gel-covered stem.

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Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is as smooth as…well…you’ll see!

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