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?


1 Answer 1


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:


  • $\begingroup$ Are you claiming all color is due to toxins??? Then you have to explain why non-toxic Russula has the red cap en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russula and why the most toxic species such as the Amanita phalloides are usually uncolored en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita_phalloides $\endgroup$
    – Anixx
    Aug 8, 2014 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Anixx: Thanks for the pointer! I hope it is correct now. $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2014 at 7:38
  • $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2014 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ galerina are orange and highly toxic $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2022 at 20:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .