Identifying mold by color


Mold by color
Microscopic view of mold

Whether it’s white, pink, red or green mold you are dealing with – it’s impossible to determine the species without testing but in some cases you can narrow the species down by its color. For example, if you have a reddish colored mold then you can safely rule out stachybotrys chartarum which is black with sometimes a tint of green. Regardless of the species (toxic or not), it should still be removed. This article should only serve as a general guideline on the different species by color.

Table of Contents
  • Identifying white mold
  • Identifying pink mold
  • Identifying green mold
  • Identifying black mold
  • Identifying brown mold
  • Identifying yellow mold
  • Identifying red mold
  • Identifying orange mold

White mold

Identifying white mold can be tricky for two reasons. Firstly, efflorescence is often mistaken for mold as they both look somewhat identical. Secondly, many different types of mold start out white during its early stages before transforming colors later. If after confirming its not efflorescence and it has been sitting for a while it would be safe to assume that you are dealing with white colored mold. Most of the white types are luckily non-toxic, however some are. Therefore it would be safe to treat them all as if they were poisonous.

Common places it grows

These can most often be found in attic sheathing and in crawlspace frames.

Common white mold species

There are thousands of species that appear white in color but some of the most common species are penicillium, cladosporium and aspergillus.


Pink mold

The pink variety is most often found in bathrooms but did you know that in the vast majority of cases it’s not really mold?

In actual fact, its bacterial growth known as serratia marcescens which feeds off shampoo and soap residue. This doesn’t mean you can relax and breathe a sigh of relief because the bacteria is known to cause a number of illnesses such as respiratory and urinary tract infections. Find out more about this bacteria and how to effectively remove it here.

Common places pink mold grows

Serratia Marcescens, which is often confused for pink mold, usually appears in bathrooms.


Green mold

Identifying green mold by color alone is not possible as there are thousands of species which appear green – many of which are toxic and many which are not. The green varieties come in a wide range of shades from light green to dark (almost black) green.

Common places it grows

There are no specific places where it grows as this color variety can appear anywhere.

Common green mold species

A large variety of species can be green but some of the most common ones are penicillium (can also sometimes appear blue), cladosporium (can also sometimes appear black) and Aspergillus (can also sometimes appear blue).


Black mold

Often people panic when they find the black variety because most will automatically assume its the infamous stachybotrys chartarum. However, this is not always the case as there are thousands of species which are black with many of them being mostly harmless to humans. If black colored fungi does start to appear after water / flood damage then there is a chance of it being stachybotrys chartarum. If this is the case it might be best to call in a remedial expert to assess.

Common places it grows

There are no specific places it grows as it can appear anywhere indoors or outdoors.

Common species

It can be aspergillus, alternaria, cladosporium or in some cases stachybotrys chartarum – especially if it has a tint of green and started appearing after flood damage.


Brown mold

The brown variety can be one of many types but in most cases they belong to the cladosporium category. Those from the cladosporium family are known to be toxic to humans and prolonged exposure have been known to cause fungal meningitis (brain infections). They can vary between different shades of brown such as dark brown (almost black) to very light brown (almost white).

Common places it grows

There are no specific places it grows as it can appear anywhere indoors or outdoors. However, it usually thrives in places which are constantly damp such as laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchen areas and basements.

Common species

Most of the time they belong to the cladosporium group.


Yellow mold

If it’s yellow chances are high of it being aspergillus – a very common variety which can also appear to be black or green. Most people breathe these spores in each day which doesn’t cause any serious health implications unless the person has a weak immune system or a pre-existing lung problem. Prolonged exposure in healthy individuals would merely trigger allergic reactions while it can cause more serious problems in health compromised individuals. Another possible type could be serpula lacrymans which is often referred to as ‘house eating mold’. It got it’s name from the fact that it deteriorates houses – especially wooden structures.

Common places it grows

If aspergillus it could be found any place but if serpula lacrymans then it’s most likely found in attics where there is a lot of wood.

Common yellow species

Most of the time it is aspergillus or serpula lacrymans.


Red mold

The vast majority of red fungi is harmless and identifying the species by color alone is not possible as there are too many possible types. Most of these varieties produce no toxins but it can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible people. Most of the red types are tough species as they are commonly found thriving in severe conditions both indoors and outdoors. Luckily because of its color its very easily noticeable.

Common places it grows

There are no specific places it prefers since it can be found outside on rotten wood and decomposing plants. As well as indoors on drywall, carpets, bathrooms etc.

Common red mold species

There are a large variety of these species – some of which include neurospora and monascus purpurius.


Orange mold

The orange type is mostly found outdoors growing on plants and trees but some varieties are common indoors too. Some species produces toxins while others do not so it’s impossible to tell whether or not its toxic without the help of a testing kit.

Common places it grows

If outdoors, it can be found on rotting wood and in some cases even healthy flowers. Indoors it can be found anywhere where it’s damp and hot. It’s also commonly found growing on clothes, fabrics and on old food.

Common species

Some of the most common species include penicillium and epicoccum nigrum.


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