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The rains of April usher in May flowers and, you guessed right. Mushrooms!
Many Michiganders yearn for wild mushroom collecting with the fast snow melt, particularly the desirable stream morels. I’m sure you are too!
Of Michigan’s 2,500 large, succulent mushroom varieties, only 60-100 are good to eat. But do you know that some mushrooms can make you sick or even kill you? In this article, we will discuss some edible Michigan mushrooms.
Edible Wild Mushrooms in Michigan
Wild mushrooms in Michigan aren’t naturally more harmful as food than plants are, but they do dabble by unique rules, and knowing which ones to look for can make all the difference in your foraging experience.
1. True Morel Mushroom (Morchella Species)
Morel mushrooms are the superstars of the mushroom world. Their popularity is over the roof among mushroom hunters in Michigan. True morels feature a unique honeycomb-like cap with an inevitable hollow step.
These delicious Michigan mushrooms also have a rich, nutty, earthy flavor that complements various dishes. Pastas, soups, or even risottos are some foods that pair well with them.
Note that morels look similar to a toxic look-alike, the false morel, which has a wavy cap and a solid stem instead of the familiar hollow one.
2. Chanterelle Mushrooms (Cantharellus sp.)
Chanterelle is another much sought-after mushroom variety in Michigan. The distinct features of these golden beauties are easily recognized. Watch out for a trumpet-shaped cap and yellow or bright orange color.
The real treasure in this wild mushroom lies in its unique fruity and peppery flavor. It adds a bold, distinctive taste to various recipes, such as a pizza topping. Before you head out on your foraging adventure, here are a few other important identifying features of this flavorful fungus.
These fungi grow in clusters on forest floors, mostly near hardwood trees such as oak. Watch out for their pale yellow stems. The size of their caps varies from that of a penny to as huge as your fist.
3. Lobster Mushrooms (Hypomyces Lactifluorum)
The lobster mushroom is a fantastic addition to any forager’s basket. This baby is bright red with white spots, making it look like a sea creature instead of a forest dweller. Don’t let its appearance fool you; this fungus will offer a delicious treat to your taste buds.
When mushroom hunting, you can find them growing near coniferous trees. Use a sharp knife to cut at the base of the stem and wash them thoroughly before cooking, as they can be notoriously gritty.
Michigan mushroom hunters love this mushroom because it is versatile due to its seafood-like flavor that pairs well with seafood chowders. That’s not all; this shroom can also hold on its own as the main course ingredient.
4. Chicken of the Woods Mushroom (Laetiporus Species)
If you’re searching for edible mushrooms in the forest of Michigan, keep your eyes peeled out for the chicken of the woods mushroom species. This delicious fungus has a bright orange color and a fan-like shape that is impossible to miss.
You will love their meaty texture and savory tang, which makes them a great meat substitute in vegetarian recipes. So if you’re searching for a unique way to add depth to your veggies, why don’t you try these chicken of the woods mushrooms?
5. Michigan Truffle (Tuber Canaliculatum)
This delicious little gem thrives in certain parts of the Eastern Seaboard, including our very own state of Michigan.
But let’s set things straight – we’re talking about a real truffle here, not just any old mushroom. People use truffle-sniffing dogs to search for these treasures and bring them to fancy restaurants for gourmet dishes.
The best part? With the proper harvesting techniques, you can return to the same truffle patch year after year for more delicious treats.
Are there other types of truffles out there? The answer is yes, but let’s be honest – none can compare to the Michigan truffle.
6. Hedgehog Mushroom (Hydnum Repandum)
The Hedgehog is one of the all-time popular edible mushrooms in Michigan. Like the morels mushroom, this Hedgehog has a unique appearance and nutty zeng popular among chefs and enthusiasts. Many people swear that the taste is comparable to lobster or crab.
The Hedgehog shroom has a spiny underside resembling the quills on a hedgehog. This feature makes it look different from other mushrooms and helps identify it. Like other shrooms, it is low in calories, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also high in antioxidants.
You can find these babies during Michigan’s late summer and fall months. Search for them in woody areas or under the shade of conifer trees.
Toxic Wild Mushrooms in Michigan
In Michigan, there are 50 varieties of massive, fleshy mushrooms understood to be poisonous to humans.
Degrees of toxicity may differ among the mushroom species and span from “deadly lethal” to “irregular gastric distress.”
1. Death Cap Mushroom (Amanita Phalloides)
These poisonous mushrooms in Michigan are light-colored, and the stem has a bulbous base surrounded by cup-like features.
Note that the Death Cap can be easily confused with edible mushrooms like Puffball. Consuming it can cause severe liver failure and death
2. Eastern Destroying Angel Mushroom (Amanita Bisporigera)
As the name suggests, the eastern destroying angel is another killer mushroom commonly found in Michigan. Eating these fungi can cause severe organ damage and sometimes death. So it’s crucial to know how to identify this mushroom and avoid picking it at all costs.
You can quickly identify it by its white cap and long stem with a ring on it. This cap is blanketed in slime, tricking you into thinking it’s palatable.
3. Fool’s Mushroom (Amanita Verna)
The fool’s mushroom sounds like something straight out of a fairy tale. This mushroom is not a magical fungus. It’s highly toxic and can cause serious harm.
Identifying these poisonous mushrooms is tricky because they look similar to the destroyer angel mushroom.
Like its evil twin, it has a white cap under the stem surrounded by a ring. But the main differentiator is the lack of a slime layer on the destroyer angel.
4. Jack-O’-Lantern Mushroom (Omphalotus Illudens)
Ah, the Jack-O’-Lantern – a bright and strikingly orange mushroom that catches the eye of many a hunter-gatherer. Don’t be misled by its cunning appearance. These little poisonous mushrooms pack a toxic punch.
The Jack o’lantern has a funnel-shaped smooth cap and a stem decorated with a white netting pattern. It is so tempting for the untrained eye to pick. Although this pretty boy is not deadly, it can still mess with your digestive system if consumed.
So, if you encounter this tricky pony during your foraging trips, just admire its beauty from afar and move on.
5. False Morels (Gyromitra Esculenta)
First, this is no ordinary mushroom. False morels have a brain-like cup that looks like it has been folded and wrinkled in on itself. Unlike the actual morel mushroom, the false morel is a tricky and toxic fungus that can leave you writhing in pain.
Gyromitra species of mushrooms have bulbous stems at the base, making them stand out from other mushrooms like a sore thumb. Eating this little guy can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or even seizures in some cases, So it’s best to keep your distance from it.
While you might have heard it is popular in Michigan, that doesn’t mean it is any less dangerous. So, stay clear!
Michigan’s Magic Mushrooms
There are many magic mushrooms (psilocybin mushrooms) in Michigan that can take you on a wild ride through your mind. The chemical psychedelic psilocybin in these shrooms interacts with the brain to produce various effects.
Some examples of these mushrooms:
- Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Caps) have cone-shaped caps and grow in grassy fields and pastures.
- Psilocybe cyanescens spot a dark brown cap and stem and often grow on wood chips or in gardens.
- Psilocybe cubensis has a golden-brown cap that thrives in humid environments.
Magic mushrooms pose severe physical and mental risks such as anxiety, paranoia, or psychosis. Efforts aimed to decriminalize magic mushrooms continue in some states, including Michigan.
Advocates argue that these mushrooms have healing benefits for conditions like depression and PTSD and that criminalizing these mushrooms harms the communities affected.
Cautions to Take When Dealing with Mushrooms
First, please inquire and heed all appropriate cautions for each variety before testing. You must adequately boil some of them, while you can’t eat others raw. Here are a few safeguards to note.
- Only consume mushrooms if you have 100% knowledge about their identification.
- Boil all mushrooms thoroughly, and never chew a wild mushroom fresh.
- Be extra cautious the initial time you munch a new mushroom. Please, only take a small quantity and stop for many hours to ensure no outcome. Some mushroom species react badly to alcohol, so ensure you recognize which ones do and forgo alcohol for three days after having any of those varieties.
- Conserve a tiny fraction of any new mushroom eaten as it will be valuable to medical personnel if it makes someone sick.
- Never attempt mushrooms that are not deemed naturally stable to eat. Never!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Most Famous Mushroom in Michigan?
The most famous mushroom in Michigan is the Morels mushroom. They are often hard to come by but experienced foragers use signs like dead wood, dying trees, and weather patterns to locate them. You can find them growing in wooded areas and harvest them around springtime.
How Can You Tell Apart Poisonous and Edible Mushrooms?
You can tell apart poisonous and edible mushrooms with many options! This distinction depends on the species. You can tell them apart by the scent of mushrooms and their color when slicing them, among many other options that are unique to each mushroom.
Which Backyard Mushrooms Are Edible?
Some mushrooms found in the backyard environment are safe to eat. Examples include the shaggy mane, the wine cup, and the chicken of the woods. While these mushrooms are considered safe, misidentification and contamination can be dangerous.
Mushroom poisoning refers to toxic impacts from ingesting poisonous elements in some mushrooms, with indications varying from trivial gastrointestinal irritation to death.
General symptoms involve puking, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, weakness, lethargy, and yellowing of the skin or eyes. But you can avoid all these if you take only popular edible species of mushrooms in Michigan.
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