Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What's the purpose for many mushrooms to have colorful caps? Is not it is in their interest to hide as well as possible? Or there are mushrooms that propagate by being eaten, like fruits?

Why not all the mushrooms are poisonous?

share|improve this question

Mushroom is actually the reproductive organ of the actual fungal body beneath the surface. It have a high surface area to disperse or spread the spores.

If the eating predators are low or dispersing is not an option, then it will need other organisms to attract to that they can be spread, so they are not toxic. Analogous to fruits, they uses different colors which are non-toxic to attract.$^1$

Whereas brightly colored mushrooms are less toxic, whereas, most toxic ones are either brown or white.$^2$

Edible Mushrooms

Toxic Mushrooms:


  1. Why do mushrooms come in so many shapes and colors?
  2. Mushroom poisoning

Image Source:

share|improve this answer
Are you claiming all color is due to toxins??? Then you have to explain why non-toxic Russula has the red cap and why the most toxic species such as the Amanita phalloides are usually uncolored – Anixx Aug 8 '14 at 7:24
@Anixx: Thanks for the pointer! I hope it is correct now. – Devashish Das Aug 8 '14 at 7:38
It's possible some colored nontoxic mushrooms could be mimicking toxic mushrooms. Very interesting, though, that in some cases it by more advantageous to attract herbivores/potential dispersers. – Oreotrephes Aug 8 '14 at 19:45

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.