Missouri’s wild mushrooms are one of the state’s natural treasures. Mushroom hunters usually collect edible mushrooms in the forests from summer to fall; this activity is quite popular there. Some edible mushrooms in Missouri that are safe to eat include oyster mushrooms, Cantharellus, bolete, chicken mushrooms, and morels.
However, you need to know the characteristics of each of these Missouri mushrooms so that they are not mistaken for poisonous mushrooms. Therefore, knowledge about mushroom identification is crucial before foraging. But don’t worry! We’ll help you broaden your insights about wild edible mushrooms in Missouri by including a mushroom guide below. So, read this article to the end, and don’t skip a bit!
Table of Contents
- 1. Ash Tree Bolete (Boletinellus merulioides)
- 2. Bearded Tooth (Hericium erinaceus)
- 3. Black Morels (Morchella angusticeps)
- 4. Chicken Of The Woods (Laetiporus cincinnatus)
- 5. Common Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)
- 6. Common Morels (Morchella Americana)
- 7. Gem-Studded Puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum)
- 8. Half-Free Morel (Morchella punctipes)
- 9. Hen Of The Woods (Grifola frondosa)
- 10. Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)
- 11. Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus)
- 12. Smooth Chanterelle (Cantharellus lateritius)
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Ash Tree Bolete (Boletinellus merulioides)
Bolete is one of the common mushrooms in Missouri that is popular among mushroom foragers because it tastes good and is definitely safe for consumption. One member of this species is the Ash Tree Bolete or Boletinellus merulioides. It has a broad cap with a tan color and a packed network underneath the cap that forms white, yellowish, or brown pores. Moreover, the texture is a bit spongy, allowing you to have a new sensory experience.
Although many members are edible varieties, some boletes are also poisonous. The way to tell the difference is to check the pores. If the color is blue or reddish, you must not eat it. Also, pay attention to how it is cooked. Make sure you cook it as soon as you pick it. Remove the slimy surface on the caps first because it will upset your stomach if you don’t wash it away.
2. Bearded Tooth (Hericium erinaceus)
The shape of the Bearded Tooth mushroom or Hericium erinaceus may remind you of Weeping Willow, a tree with dangling leaves that sweep off the ground. It also looks like a thick beard; perhaps that’s where the name originated. This edible mushroom has white spines that will later turn yellow as it ages.
Unlike other edible fall mushrooms in Missouri, it does not have a stalk or stem. Instead, the spines grow all the way from the base. You can easily find Bearded Tooth under fallen trees from August to November.
To cook this amazing fungus, you may slice the white spines, parboil it until the texture is softened, and dip it in your favorite cheese sauce. But remember! Only the young white spines are tasty. The yellow ones are sour; thus, they won’t serve you a delicious meal.
3. Black Morels (Morchella angusticeps)
You may find the appearance is not appetizing, but you will be surprised once you taste the Black Morels or Morchella angusticeps. It is one of the Missouri amazing fungi that can be easily collected from the moist woodlands. They are commonly associated with some trees, including apples, ash trees, and dying elms. Considering the grayish brown cap, it is also well-known as smoky morels.
Furthermore, the honeycomb cap is lighter when young; this is where the mushroom is best eaten! When the cap gets nearly black or shrunken, you must discard it since the taste is unpleasant. In addition, there are several ways to cook morels, such as sauteing, deep-frying, and drying. Choose one that fits your preference!
4. Chicken Of The Woods (Laetiporus cincinnatus)
There is a reason why Laetiporus cincinnatus is called Chicken Of The Woods. The texture of this Missouri edible mushroom is chewy and juicy, like chicken meat! Thanks to the distinctive salmon-like bright orange color and fleshy caps, you can quickly identify the mushroom without being worried about mistakenly picking the toxic one. They usually grow on tree stumps, dying hardwoods, and living trees.
Besides the Laetiporus cincinnatus, the chicken mushroom also refers to Laetiporus sulphureus. This one has a brighter surface, highlighting yellow sulfur pores. Both are safe and tasty! However, they may cause mild allergy reactions, like swollen lips to some people. Hence, it is better to cook them and try a small bite of them to check whether you are allergic to the fungi or not.
5. Common Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)
Most chanterelles have bright-colored caps, ranging from yellow, orange, and reddish shades. They feature funnel-like shapes with gill-like ridges that grow from the stem and wavy cap edges. One of the edible mushrooms that belong to the family is Cantharellus cibarius or Common Chanterelle. It generally grows among the green grass or fallen leaves. Moreover, they are available abundantly from May to September, when it is humid and hot.
Given the rugged texture, the most delicious way to cook Common Chanterelle is slow-cooking. After that, you can saute the entire mushroom with butter, add seasonings like salt, paper, and other herbs you love, then serve it on the crackers. Side note: If you happen to hunt for this mushroom, you must be able to differentiate it from Jack-o-Lantern. This poisonous fungus will upset your stomach.
6. Common Morels (Morchella Americana)
Slightly different from the Black Morel with brown to black color, the Morchella Americana, or Common Morel, is a member of Morchella spp. It has a honeycomb-like cap that is yellowish white and gray to brown when young. Both will get darker when they get older. Furthermore, they grow in disturbed or burned areas and deciduous woods from March to May.
Additionally, when these growing conditions meet their requirements, they can grow to a height of one foot or around 30 cm. However, you must be aware of false morels that can be deadly poisonous when eaten.
This Common Morel should not be eaten raw either. You have to cook them first, such as sauteed, deep fried, or dried if you want to preserve them for the fall.
7. Gem-Studded Puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum)
Some people may mistakenly classify the Gem-Studded Puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum) with Destroying Angel (Amanita bisporigera). It is because both have rounded-shaped caps that resemble golf balls with spiny warts. You can tell and observe the difference by slicing the cap in two. If the color is pure white like marshmallows without brown or yellow patches, it is the puffballs. Also, the puffballs have no ring underneath the cap as the destroying angel.
You can collect the mushrooms in lawns, decaying woods, or open wood areas from late summer to early fall. They grow in clusters, so their presence is conspicuous and easy to find. Before cooking the fungi, wash them and remove the outer layers. Next, dip it in the batter and deep fry the mushrooms.
8. Half-Free Morel (Morchella punctipes)
Unlike the two other morels mentioned, the Morchella punctipes or Half-Free morel does not have a perfect cap. Instead, the cap is blended into the stem. Another thing that sets it aside from its fellow morels is the long, bulb-like, white-brownish stem.
With these features, Half-Free morel is often misidentified with Wrinkled-Thimble Cap mushrooms (Verpa bohemica), an edible mushroom. Luckily, the bohemica has shorter stems. Even though both are edibles, don’t you dare to consume them raw! They are only safe to eat when thoroughly cooked. You can sautee the fungi with butter or dry them and store them for later. Enjoy the tender texture that will melt in your mouth!
9. Hen Of The Woods (Grifola frondosa)
Even though it has a similar name to the Chicken Of The Woods, Grifola frondosa or Hen Of The Woods is an entirely different species. The caps are gray to brown, growing on the base of a living tree or tree stump, especially oak trees in the autumn. Amazingly, the cluster of this fungus can reach around 3 feet wide and weigh about 100 pounds! No wonder some people call it ‘a hen sitting under the tree’.
As for the edibility, this fungus is safe to eat. However, it requires a slow-cooking process to make it enjoyable to consume. Get rid of the roughed parts. Add the tender ones to the salted water and simmer them for a while. Next, drain the water and store them. You can add the mushroom to your salads and soups or mix it with cream sauce.
10. Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)
It is the most popular edible mushroom in Missouri that you can easily find in the market. Pleurotus ostreatus, or Oyster mushroom, belongs to the Pleurotus genus with a pale or tan brown, shell-like cap. The gills are white and narrow, which connects to its short stem. In the wild, they grow on tree branches all year round. But nowadays, they are widely cultivated around the world.
Other than Pleurotus ostreatus, the Pleurotus pulmonarius is also known by the same common name. Only the color of the cap is broken white. It also prefers summer months to grow, unlike the P. ostreatus, which favors cool temperatures in the spring or fall. Moreover, you can add these mushrooms to various dishes, such as stir fry, beat with the eggs to make an omelet, or deep fry with batter.
11. Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus)
Coprinus comatus or Shaggy Mane has a pretty appeal. The cap is white and shaggy with cylindrical or bell-shaped caps, depending on their growth stage. In addition, the white color will later turn dark brown from the edges when they are older. Another unique characteristic of the fungus is its tall stem that can reach around 2-6 feet! This makes distinguishing the mushroom from other white, poisonous ones are relatively easy.
Moreover, Shaggy Mane usually grows from early to mid-fall, around September and October. Considering their size, you can easily spot them on the roadsides or lawns. Still, they also occasionally occur around the disturbed areas in the spring.
However, you must be cautious of other white mushrooms that appear similar to the Shaggy Mane. Since the mushrooms will turn slimy, you must cook them as soon as you harvest them from the wild. You can sautee them with butter or add them to the beaten eggs.
12. Smooth Chanterelle (Cantharellus lateritius)
Since it is closely related and has a similar appeal, Cantharellus lateritius or Smooth Chanterelle is often classified as Common Chanterelle. Satu-satunya yang membedakan mereka from one another adalah the smooth and deeply shallow wrinkles the C. lateritious has.
The cap is a bright yellow to orange with wavy edges. Also, it grows on the hardwood forests’ floor under the leaf litter that sometimes buries them.
Just like other wild mushrooms in Missouri, you cannot eat them raw. Not only consider your safety and well-being, but the texture of Smooth Chanterelle is also hard. You must boil them for around 20-25 minutes until they tender. Next, you can further add the mushrooms to make delicious meals.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What mushrooms are edible in Missouri?
Mushroom hunting is popular in Missouri as it offers an abundant plant protein source that is only available from summer to fall. But please remember! Not all mushrooms are edible. Here are the edible mushrooms in Missouri you can collect from the forests or meadows around your areas: chicken mushrooms, morels (but be aware of the false morels!), oyster mushrooms, shaggy mane, common chanterelle, gem-studded puffball, and bearded tooth fungus.
How do I know if this mushroom is edible?
Despite being a fun activity, foraging mushrooms can become a threat if you don’t know how to identify the edible ones. Follow these steps to check out the mushroom before you eat it:
- Observe the gills. Most poisonous mushrooms, like the Amanita species, have white gills. Hence, we recommend staying away from those mushrooms if you find one.
- Check out the stem and cap color! Don’t be fooled by the vibrant color of the caps, as they are probably a sign of toxic mushrooms. Instead, select the ones with tan, white, or brown caps and creamish stems.
- Avoid mushrooms with scale caps. Generally, edible wild mushrooms in Missouri do not have textured and darker patches on the caps.
- Look for the ring. Mushrooms with rings are usually poisonous. The ring can be found under the caps, near the gills.
- Don’t eat it unless you are 100% sure they are safe and edible! Eating poisonous mushrooms may cause harm and even death. For example, the death cap. It will shut you down immediately, even if you ingest a tiny piece of it.
Does Missouri have truffles?
You may be surprised when we tell you that Missouri hides an edible mushroom gem popular worldwide, the Burgundy black truffle. Despite being a native to Gotland Island, a northern place in Sweden, you can find the cultivation of this truffle in Missouri very promising due to its high price, around $50 per ounce.
Is it legal to forage in Missouri?
Foraging or Missouri mushroom hunting is legal in Missouri since it is part of their cultural activity. However, you need to make sure that this rule applies in your area before hunting for the mushroom. Some national parks or forests require permits before foraging. Besides mushrooms, you can also collect pawpaws, elderberries, cattails, persimmons, and dandelions.
Where can I hunt mushrooms in Missouri?
You can hunt edible mushrooms in the Missouri State Parks. In fact, they are the only edibles you are permitted to collect from the park. Besides, forests and river bottoms are also the perfect places to pick mushrooms. However, you must always check the rules before foraging despite it being a legal activity in the state.
Which mushrooms in Missouri are poisonous?
In contrast to edible mushrooms in Missouri, toxic mushrooms also grow in the state. Some are even deadly, such as Destroying Angel, Death Caps, and False Morels. You can also find some poisonous mushrooms that are toxic but not life-threatening, like Jack-O’-Lantern, Green-Spored Lepiota, and Little Brown Mushroom.