"Mushroom" describes a variety of gilled fungi, with or without stems, and the term is used even more generally, to describe both the fleshy fruiting bodies of some Ascomycota and the woody or leathery fruiting bodies of some Basidiomycota, depending upon the context of the word.
Identifying mushrooms requires a basic understanding of their macroscopic structure. Most are Basidiomycetes and gilled. Their spores, called basidiospores, are produced on the gills and fall in a fine rain of powder from under the caps as a result. At the microscopic level the basidiospores are shot off basidia and then fall between the gills in the dead air space. As a result, for most mushrooms, if the cap is cut off and placed gill-side-down overnight, a powdery impression reflecting the shape of the gills (or pores, or spines, etc.) is formed (when the fruit body is sporulating). The color of the powdery print, called a spore print, is used to help classify mushrooms and can help to identify them. Spore print colors include white (most common), brown, black, purple-brown, pink, yellow, and creamy, but almost never blue, green, or red. While modern identification of mushrooms is quickly becoming molecular, the standard methods for identification are still used by most and have developed into a fine art harking back to medieval times and the Victorian era, combined with microscopic examination. The presence of juices upon breaking, bruising reactions, odors, tastes, shades of color, habitat, habit, and season are all considered by both amateur and pro
essional mycologists. Tasting and smelling mushrooms carries its own hazards because of poisons and allergens. Chemical tests are also used for some genera The word has apparent analogies in Dutch padde(n)stoel (toad-stool/chair, mushroom) and German Krotenschwamm (toad-fungus, alt. word for panther cap). Others have proposed a connection with German Todesstuhl (death's chair). Since Tod is a direct cognate to "death", in that case it would be a German borrowing. However, no common word akin to Todesstuhl is used in German referring to mushrooms, poisonous or not.
In German folklore and old fairy tales, toads are often depicted sitting on toadstool mushrooms and catching, with their tongues, the flies that are said to be drawn to the Fliegenpilz, a German name for the toadstool, meaning "flies' mushroom") This is how the mushroom got another of its names, Krotenstuhl (a less-used German name for the mushroom), literally translating to "toad-stool". The term "mushroom" and its variations may have been derived from the French word mousseron in reference to moss (mousse). The toadstool's connection to toads may be direct, in reference to some species of poisonous toad, or may just be a case of phonosemantic matching from the German word. However, delineation between edible and poisonous fungi is not clear-cut, so a "mushroom" may be edible, poisonous, or unpalatable. The term "toadstool" is nowadays used in storytelling when referring to poisonous or suspect mushrooms. The classic example of a toadstool is Amanita muscaria.