Many of us are uncomfortable using scientific names. They are usually in Latin, a ‘dead’ language formerly employed by scholars in the western tradition of learning. Many of the names of fungi and other organisms include a latin name that describes a characterisitic of the organism. Since European languages were modified and enriched by incorporating Latin, it should not be surprising to learn that many terms used in composing scientific names are also part of our everyday vocabularies. In other words, we undoubtedly know much more than we think we know about the meanings of fungi names. Refreshing your memory of common words for colors, shapes, textures, odors and other characteristics of mushrooms will enhance your understanding, appreciation of and comfort in using scientific nomenclature.


AGARICUS: cap, gills and stem mushrooms

ARMILLARIA: braclet, ring


CLAVULINA: clava - club

COPRINUS, …ELLUS, …OPSIS: copra = dung

CORTINARIUS: cort = curtain, cob-web veil

ENTOLOMA: inrolled margin

FISTULINA: fistulinae = hollow tubes and space between them

HYGROCYBE: hygro = related to moisture

LECCINUM: rough-stemmed bolete

MARASMIUS: drying out, rather than decaying, then rehydrating

MYCENA: mushroom

PLEUROTUS: side of ear

PSATHYRELLA: friable, easily crumbles

RUSSULA russ = red

TREMELLA: tremer = to tremble

TYLOPILOUS: tylo = bump, pilos = hat

XYLARIA: xyl = from wood (xylem)

SPECIES NAME BASICS                            

carp = dead body, corpse (basidiocarp = fruiting body) (Syzigites megalocarpus, Leocarpis fragilis)

ceps = head (Leccinum rugosiceps, Morchella angusticeps, Russula incarnaticeps, Russula ornaticeps, Tylopilus badiceps)

cepha = head (Polyporus leptocephalus, Psathyrella rugocephala, Rhizomarasmius pyrrhocephalus))

cola = loving (Mycena epipterygia var. lignicola, Gymnopus dryophilus)                                 

ellus = little cups (Cantharellus cibarius, Craterellus fallax)

escens/t = beginning, becoming ‘x’ (Amanita brunnescens, Amanita rubescens)

ensis = belonging to (Agaricus arvensis, Cantharellus appalachiensis, Russula michiganensis)

hemi = half (Hemileccinum ssubglabripes)

ino = fibrous (Inocybe sp.)

oides = resembling ‘x’ (Boletellus merulioides, Amanita phalloides, Asterophora lycoperdoides)

olens = fragrant or smelly (Hydellum suaveolens, Russula redolens)

opsis = looks like, appears like ‘x’ (Boletopsis griseus, Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca)

pes = foot (Ampuloclitocybe clavipes, Armillaria solidipes, Suillus cavipes, Xylaria longipes)

phila/us = love of (Gymnopus dryophilus, Psathyrella hydrophila, Syzygospora mycetophila)

phylla/m = leaves, gills (Chromocera cyanophylla, Russula heterophylla, Russula polyphylla)

pseudo = false, looks like something it is not (Pseudoboletus parasiticus, Russula pseudolepida)


albo = white (Tylopilus alboater, Cortinarius alboviolaceus, Leccinellum albellum)

arum = golden-colored (Arachnopeziza aurelia, Aleuria aurantia, Tremella aurantia)

atra/atro = black (Lactarius atroviridis, Lepiota atrodisca, Leccinum atrostipitatum)

atramentum = ink-black (Coprinopsis atramentarius)

aurant = orange (Hydnellum aurantiacum, Hygrophoropsis aurantiacus, Aureoboletus auriporus)

badius = chestnut brown (Picipes badius, Imleria badia, Tylopilus badiceps)

brunne = brown (Amanita brunnescens, Butryboletus speciosus v. brunneus, T. rubrobrunneus)

kastanos = chestnut brown (Gyroporus castanellus)

caerulea = blue (Mycena suncaerulea, Terana caerulea)

chio = white as snow (Tyromyces chioneus)

cinnabar = (Calostoma cinnabarina, Cantharellus cinnabarinus, T. cinnabarinus)

cinnamome/cinnamomeus = cinnamon (Coltricia cinnamomea)

cinereus = gray to blackish (Clavulina cinera, Lactarius cinereus)

citrina/us = lemon colored (Amanita citrina, Bisporella citrina)

chlor = green, greenish-yellow (Chlorospleium chlora, Chlorociboria aeruginascens)

chrom = golden yellow, chrome (Harrya chromapes)

concolorous = having same color (Humidicutis marginatus var. concolor)

croceus = saffron colored (Lactarius croceus)

cyan = dark blue (Cyanoboletus pulverulentus, Gyroporus cyanescens)

dealbat = white-washed (Clitocybe dealbata)ferre = color of iron (Fuscoporia ferrea)

ferruginous = color of rust (Tylopilus ferrugineus)

flam = flaming red (Boletus rubroflammeus, Pholiota flammens)

flavo = yellow (Hygrocybe flavescens, Hygrophorus flavodiscus, Amanita flavorubescens)

fuligin = smoky, sooty (Lactarius fuliginosus)

fulvus = fawn, tawny or red-brown (Amanita fulva, Tricholoma fulvum)

fuma/o = smoky (Lactarius fumosus, Tricholoma fumosoluteum, Bjerkandera fumosa)

fuscus = gray or gray-brown (taupe) (Russula fusca, Russula fuscorosea)

gilvus = pale yellow (Fuscoporia gilva)

glaucous = greenish

gramin = grass (Russula gramminicolor)

gran = granular (Russula granulata)

griseus = gray (Boletopsis grisea, Lactarius griseus, Retiboletus griseus)

haem = blood (Mycena haematopus)

helvus = honey-yellow (Lactarius helvus)

incarnate/us = color of flesh (Byssomerulius incarnatus)

idigo = blue (Lactarius indigo)

ignius = fire (Cantharellus ignicolor, Phellinus igniarius )

io = violet (Cortinarius iodes)

lactea = color of milk (Irpex Lactea, Russula perlactea, Russula lactea, Helvella lactea)

lilacina = lilac colored (Cortinarius lilacinus)

limon = lemon (Cortinarius limonius, Pholiota limonella)

luco = bright, shining (Ganoderma lucidum, Phylloporus leucomycelinus)

lurid = dark red (Boletus subluridellus, Neoboletus luridiformis (Boletus discolor)

luteo/a = pale yellow (Entoloma lutea, Hypomyces luteovirens)

luteus = saffron-yellow (Leccinum luteum, Gymnopilus luteus, Gymnopilus luteofolius)

lutescent = staining yellow (Craterellus lutescens)

maculate/us = spotted (Rhodocollybia maculata)

molybdos = lead-colored (Chlorophyllum molybdites)

nigr = black (Exidia nigicans, Russula nigricans, Russula nigrodisca)

niveus = snowy (Hygrophorus niveus)

ochre, ochro = pale dingy yellow-orange-brown (Russula ochracea, Russula ochroleuca)

ochraceous = shades of yellow-orange-brown (Steccherinum ochraceum)

olivaceous = olive green (Boletus miniato-olivaceus, Hymenochaetopsis olivacea)

onus = gunpowder (Amanita onusta)

ovina/us = white as sheep (Albatrellus ovinus)

pallid = pale (Russula pallida, Boletus pallidus)

purpur = purple (Cortinarius purpurescens, Gyroporus purpurinus, Xanthoconium purpureum)

rosa = pinkish red = (Butyriboletus roseopurpureus, Caloboletus roseipes, Russula rosacea)

rufus = brownish-red (Lactarius rufus, Agaricus subrufescens, Sterellum rufum)

rutilans = reddish (Hapalopilus rutilans, Tricholomopsis rutilans)

salmon = color of salmon (Suillus salmoneus, Lactarius salmoneus)

sang = blood red (Rubroboletus rhodosanguineus)

sulfurea = color of sulphur (Laetiporus sulphureus, Tricholomopsis sulphureoides)

sanguine = blood red (Cortinarius sanguineus, C. semisanguineus, Stereum sanguineolentum)

vermiculosus = worms (Boletus vermiculosus, Boletus vermiculosoides)

versicolor = many colors (Trametes versicolor)

vinaceous = pale-pinkish red to purple-red – color of wine (Chroogomphidius vinicolor)

violaceus = violet, purple (Cortinarius violaceus, Tylopilus plumbeoviolaceus)


compacta = compact (Russula compacta)

corrugis = wrinkled (Cortinarius corrugatus, Lactifluus corrugis)

crusto = broken into pieces (Russula crustosa)

decorous = elegant, decorated, decorative (Tricholomopsis decora)

dens = dense, crowded (Russula densifolia)

durus = hard, durable (Agrocybe dura)

farina = flour, meal (Amanita farinosa)

gelo = congeal, freeze (Pseudohynum gelatinosum. Gelatoporia dichroa)

glauc = (Cortinarius glaucopus)

glutin = slimy (Chroogomphidius glutinosus, Cortinarius glutinosus)

gymn = naked (Gymnopilus junonius, Gymnopus sp. have bare-naked feet)

hirt = hairy (Trametes hirsutum, Stereum hirsutum, Trichoglossum hirsutum)

hispid = spiny, shaggy, rough (Inonotus hispidus)

hirsute = hairy (Trametes hirsuta, Stereum hirsutum)

imbric = scale-covered (Sarcodon imbricatus)

ino = fiber (Inocybe sp., ‘Fiberheads’)

maculate/us = spots (Lactarius maculatus, Boletus affinis var. maculatus)

micaeus = mica-like glistening particles (Coprinellus micaceus)

mollis: smooth, soft, like mollusk (Crepidotus mollis)

praetens = extremely delicate (Cuphophyllus praetensis, previously Camarophyllus praetensis)

resin = resin (Ischnoderma resinosum)

rugose = wrinkled (Cortinarius corrugatus, Lactifluus corrugis, Leccinum rugosiceps)

scro = ditch, trench (Lactarius scrobiculatus)

scabers = scabrous (Leccinum scabrum)

siccus = dry (Marasmius siccus)

spongiosus = spongy (Gymnopus spongipes, Hydnellum spongiopsipes)

squal = dirty (Russula squalida)

squamules = covered in scales (Cerioporia squamosa, Cortinarius squamulosus)

stricta = straight (Entoloma strictius, Ramaria stricta)

vellute = velvety (Boletus subvelutipes, Lacrymaria velutina, Spathulariopsis velutipes)


abrupt = abrupt (Amanita abrupta, Agaricus abruptibulbus)

appendicul = hang

applanatus = flattened (Crepidotus applanatus)

armill = bracelet, ring (Cortinarius armillatus, Armillaria mellea)

aster = star (Astreus hygrometricus)

auricula = ear-shaped (Auricula americana)

bi = two (Agaricus bisporus, Amanita bisporigera, Baorangia bicolor, Trichaptum biformis)

bulb = bulbous, rounded base (Cortinarius bulbosus)

caes = cheese (Postia caesia)

campanula = bell-shaped (Xeromphalina campanella)

canus = dog (Mutinus caninus)

capitatus = having a head

cavus = hollow (Suillus cavipes)

clava = club (Clavariadelphus truncatus, Boletus clavipes)

coltrice = bed, couch in Italian, fairy stool (Coltricia cinnamomea, Coltricia perennis)

concresc = growing attached to each other (Hydnellum concrescens)

conic = cone shaped (Hygrocybe conica, Entoloma conicum)

corall = likeness of coral (Clavulina coralloides, Hericium coralloides)

cornu = horn, trumpet, little cup (Craterellus cornucopioides)

cothurn = calf-high boot of Greeks and Romans (Amanita cothurnata, ‘Booted Amanita’)

cran = brain (Calvatia craniformis)

crater = mouth of volcano (Craterellus) = cup

crepid = man’s slipper-boot (Crepidotus)

cusp/cuspis = pointed (Hygrocybe cuspidatus)

cyath = cup (Cyathus striatus)

daed = maze (Daedaldeopsis confragosa, Daedalea quercina)

dauci = carrot, turnip (Amanita daucipes)

dont = teeth (Sarcodontia pachyodon, Sarcodontia setosa)

frondis = leaf (Grifola frondosa)

fusiform = spindle-shaped being narrower at top and bottom and fuller in-between

geaster = stomach (Gasteromycetes – puffballs, earthstars, bird’s nest fungi, stinkhorns)

gland = gland (Exidia glanulosa)

glob = ball, globe (Globifomes graveolens)

gloss = tongue (Microglossum rufum )

gomphos = club (Chroogompus

gyro = round, round hat (Gyromita spp.)

hepat = liver (Fistulina hepatica)

hericium = hedgehog (Hericeum americanum)

infundibul = funnel (Infundibulocybe gibba)

involute = rolled inward (Paxillus involutus)

klitos = slope (Clitocybe)

kranion = skull (Calvatia craniformis)

mes = middle, intestines (Tremella mesenterica)

ornate = decorative (Retiboletus ornatipes)

palm = like hand (Thelephopra palmata)

phylla = leaves, gills (Russula polyphylla)

schizo = split (Schizophyllum commune)

radi = radiating, radicating (Phlebia radicata, Polyporus radicatus)

robust = sturdy (Russula robusta)

spong = spongey (Hydnellum spongiosipes)

trem = trembling like jello (Phebia tremellosa, Tremella mesenterica)

tuba = shape of a tuba (Craterellus tubaeformis, Picipes tubaeformis)

tuber = tuber (Collybia tuberosa)

umbel = umbrella (Polyporus umbellatus)

ursa = bear (Lentinellus ursinus)

vial = vase (Thelephora vialis)


Alnus = alder

betula - birch (Lenzites betulina, Cerioporia betulinus)

bolbit = cow dung (Bolbitius spp.)

coprin = dung (Coprinus, Coprinellus, Coprinopsis)

dry = oak tree (Gymnopus dryophilus, Inonotus dryadeus, Pleurotus dryinus)

epi = on (Marasmius epiphyllus)

fagus = beech tree

campus = field (Agaricus campestris, B. campestris)

hypnos = moss (Galerina hypnorum)

lana = wool (Coprinopsis laniger)

lign = lignin (Buchwaldoboletus lignicola, Lactarius lignyotus)

pin = pine (Boletus pinophilus, Fomitopsis pinicola, Guepiniopsis alpina)

querci = oak (Daedalea quercina)

silv = forest (Agaricus silvicola, Russula silvicola)

tsug = hemlock (Ganoderma tsugae)

ulm= elm (Hypsizygus ulmarius)


angustus = narrow, slender (Morchella angusticeps)

brevis = short (Russula brevipes)

distans = distant (Cortinarius distans)

gigant = big (Calvatia gigantea, Leucopaxillus giganteus)

gracilis = slender (Austroboletus gracilis)

lept = thin (Polyporus leptocephalus, Inocybe leptophylla, Leptonia sp.)

metron = a measure (Astreus hygrometricus)

mini = small, minute (Hygrocybe miniata, Hygrocybe minitula)

tram = thin (Trametes versicolor)


acida/us = acidic, citrus tasting (Suillus acidus)

dulcus = sweet

edulis = delicious (Boletus edulis)

fel = bile, bitter (Tylopilus felleus)

inedulis = inedible (Caloboletus inedulis)

piper = peppery (Chalciporus piperatus, Lactarius piperatus)


farina = flour, meal (Amanita farinosa)

farinaceous = odor of bread or fresh meal

foetid = unpleasant, rotten odor (Russula foetentula)

fragrant = pleasant smelling (Russula fragrantissima)

ingratus = unpleasant

nitrous = smells like gunpowder

odor = odor (Clitocybe odora)

pungens = pungent, sharp odor

sapon = soap (Tricholoma saponaceum)

sordidus = bad odor (Tylopilus sordidus)


appendicul = hanging

haem = bleeding (Mycena haematopus)

emetic = sickening  (Russula emetica)

fragilis = breaking easily (Russula fragilis,

rufescens = reddening (Amanita rubescens, Hydnum rubescens)


august = impressive, respected (Agaricus augustus)

confuse/us = confusing, confused (Strobilomyces confusus)

deceptive = (Lactifluus deceptivus)

diabo = devil (Hydnellum diabolis)

formosa = beautiful (Entoloma formosum, Ramaria formosa)

elegans = elegant ( Mutinus elegans, Polyporus elegans, Russula elegans)

illudens = deceive (Omphalotus illudens)

impudicus = shameless, immodest (Phallus impudicus – shameful penis)

modesta = modest (Russula modesta)

nobil = noble (Boletus nobilis)

radicul = ridiculous (Androdia radiculosa)

robust = sturdy (Clitocybe robusta)

sensi = sensitive (Boletus sensibilis, Lanmaoa pseudosensibilis)

sordid = degenerate, immoral, dirty (Lactarius sordidus, Tylopilus sordidus)


ursina/us = bear (Lentinellus ursinus)

vulpin = wolf (Lentinellus vulpinus)

leo = lion (Leocarpis fragilis)

tig = tiger (Lentinus tigrinus)

cervina/us = fawn, deer (Pluteus cervinus)

ovina/us = sheep (Albatrellus ovinus)

erinacea/um = hedgehog (Hericium erinaceus)

vermicular = worms (Boletus vermiculosoides, B. vermiculosus)


Berkeley    Coker      Kendrick     Persoon

Sprague    Harry Thiers     Murrill    Singer

Watson   Frost   Montagne     Sumstine

Smith     Curtis       Ravenel      Cooke

Snell     Farlow       Schweinitz       Fries

Atkinson   Peck   Kauffman    Rogerson

Horton   Banning   Burlingham    Underwood

Bigelow      Brefeld        Carver      Stunz