Many field guides contain text keys, picture keys, or both.
Some naturalists swear by themothers swear at them. They
can appear daunting at first, but skill will come with time.
To work a key you must answer a series of questions. Each question
offers you choices. Pick the choice that best describes your
fungus, and that will lead you to another question. And then
another... and so on. At each step you are narrowing down the
possibilities, untilwith patience and a little luckyou
will find your fungus's genus,
At this point you should refer to the field guide's species
descriptions. They will either confirm that you have followed
the correct "flow" through the key, or leave you scratching
your head and muttering unkind words about keys. You should
always read species descriptions fullynever rely solely
on a key. Most beginners can only hope to identify fungi to
the level of genus. It takes much experience to pin down many
fungi to species level.