Dangerous Delicacies: 10 Most Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan

Unlike other states, Michigan tends to be warm, with humid summers and cold winters. With this climate, various mushroom species happily flourish in the Michigan ecosystem. Some of them are poisonous mushrooms in Michigan.

According to the Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, you need to be aware of around 50 toxic mushroom species in Michigan, ranging from Michigan Amanita species to Michigan Gyromitra mushrooms. They are generally scattered in woodland, and some are camouflaged like the edible ones.

Furthermore, these Michigan-toxic mushrooms also contain toxins that lead to mushroom poisoning. Species like Michigan false morels, for example, contain Gyromitrin toxin that can cause death at doses of 20 to 50 milligrams per kilogram in adults and 10 to 30 milligrams in children. No wonder they belong to lethal mushrooms in Michigan.

Knowing these terrible consequences, you must know how to practice careful Michigan mushroom identification. In addition, the above-mentioned university recommends studying mushroom foraging safety in Michigan. They also urge the state’s forager to always be accompanied by a mycology expert to prevent cases of mushroom poisoning in Michigan. Our experts also agree with this recommendation. They have compiled 10 Michigan toxic mushrooms along with a brief identification to avoid poisoning risks.

We also include the edible vs. toxic mushrooms in Michigan look-alike so you don’t mistakenly pick the poisonous fungi in Michigan. 

Key Takeaways

  • About 50 toxic mushroom species, including Michigan Amanita and Gyromitra mushrooms, flourish due to the state’s warm summers and cold winters.
  • Species like Michigan false morels contain deadly toxins such as Gyromitrin, highlighting the danger of these mushrooms.
  • Emphasizes the need for accurate mushroom identification and recommends foraging with a mycology expert for safety.
  • Points to “Mushroom of the Midwest” and the Michigan Mushroom Hunters website as essential resources for learning about safe mushroom foraging.

Common Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan

You can tell by the intro that there are 50 dangerous mushrooms in Michigan. Some of them belong to Michigan’s deadly mushroom types. Now, our experts share the top 10 most common poisonous mushrooms that are most often found within the state and widely anticipated because they often cause poisoning. 

We will include how to identify it, the toxicity, and the poisoning symptoms you should be aware of. Poison control and first aid are also available just in case you accidentally swallow toxic mushrooms in Michigan. Let’s take a look!

1. Amanita Phalloides (Death Cap)

Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan
Amanita Phalloides (Death Cap)

Alright! To start the list of poisonous mushrooms in Michigan, we’ll be discussing the Death Cap or Amanita phalloides. Let me tell you, this fungus is the real assassin! It has a greenish, yellowish, or white cap that looks enchanting and harmless. The cap tries to blend in on top of its slim stem, mimicking the edible Paddy Straw Mushroom. Also, the gills are white, just like the spore print. 

But don’t be fooled! Death Cap contains amatoxins, a deadly toxin that will kill people slowly when ingested. This toxin will mess with your kidneys and liver, causing system failure with initial symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea around 6 to 12 hours after consuming the mushroom. 

In this case, you must go to the emergency room because there’s no antidote for Death Cap poisoning. Generally, medical professionals will get a dialysis machine to pump out the toxin from your blood. Yes, it is that serious!

2. Amanita Bisporigera (Destroying Angel)

Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan
An Amanita Bisporigera or Destroying Angel Mushroom

We can say that this one is the sibling of the Death Cap. Yes, the Destroying Angel! It is like the ninja of the mushroom kingdom, where the appeal will trick you into thinking it is edible. The Destroying Angel displays a smooth and chic cap ranging from 2 to 4 inches, a slender, tall, and white stem, and a skirt-like ring underneath the cap. Regarding the spore, it’s also white, just like the gills and the cap.

But raise your high alert since Destroying Angel has a doppelganger, the edible meadow (Agaricus campestris). Luckily, you can distinguish them by checking the base. The edible one features no additional accessories, while the notorious Angel has a volva structure surrounding the base. 

Why are we extremely concerned about the Destroying Angel poisoning? Because it has amatoxins, which can damage your liver and kidneys. The challenging part is the symptoms only occur 6 to 12 hours after ingesting, beginning with diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Once the earlier signs appear, you better rush to the nearest hospital because there’s no first aid to reduce the symptoms. 

3. Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric)

Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan
Poisonous Red Fly Agaric Amanita Muscaria

This one is the easiest to identify, thanks to its bright red cap dotted with white warts. However, some varieties of Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric feature orange to yellow colors. The Super Mario’s snack look-alike has white gills underneath the cap and white spore prints that will appear once they drop the spores.

But hey, watch out! This mushroom is rich in toxic compounds called muscimol and ibotenic acid. These comos cause several symptoms when you eat this fungus, including nausea, delirium, and hallucinations.

If you accidentally nibble on this psychedelic mushroom, you must immediately induce vomiting before taking activated charcoal to absorb toxins. Then, rush to the ER to seek medical help! 

4. Cortinarius Rubellus (Deadly Webcap)

Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan
Big Group of Cortinarius Rubellus or Deadly Webcap

Some people think that only bright-colored mushrooms are poisonous. But that’s not the case with Cortanarius rubellus or Deadly Webcap. As you can tell by its chilling name, this one is up to no good when you consume it. 

Deadly Webcap features a brown, cinnamon-roll-like cap that will gradually open into a stunning reddish-brown color. The spore print also follows a similar tone when you pluck the fungus on a white paper overnight, leaving a cinnamon sprinkle-like with a rusty shade on it.

Furthermore, this one, just like others, has an edible twin, the Gypsy mushroom or Cortanarius caperatus. Thankfully, the edible one has a light brown to dark brown convex cap with no distinct red hues. Speaking about the toxin, Deadly Webcap has orellanine, a nasty toxin that leads to kidney failure when ingested. When that happens, try to hydrate yourself to flush down the toxin in your stomach. Then, immediately call an emergency help to get proper treatment from medical experts.

5. Clitocybe Dealbata (Ivory Funnel)

Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan
Clitocybe Dealbata, also Known as The Ivory Funnel

You get it right. It looks like edible Agaricus, the Agaricus arvensis (Horse Mushroom), to be specific. But here’s the take. Ivory Funnel or Clitocybe dealbata has a sweet scent, whereas the horse mushroom emits a strong mushroom fragrance to the table. So, trust your nose!

When it comes to the physical characteristics, Ivory Funnel has a funnel shape like a hat, hence the name. It also displays a pale pink spore print when you pluck it on white paper. If you want to find this toxic fungus, you can search for grassy areas. 

Though it looks harmless, the muscarine toxin cannot be overstated. Once you ingest the fungus, it can interfere with your nervous system, leading to vomiting, nausea, salivation, and sweating. Since it can be lethal, there’s no first aid other than a swift call to poison control and a rush to the ER. 

6. Conocybe Filaris (Fool’s Conecap)

Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan
Close Up of a Conecap Mushroom or Latin Name Genus Conocybe

As its name suggests, Conocybe filaris, well-known as Fool’s Conecap, is a tiny fungus with a cone cap. It commonly features a light to dark brown tone with a delicate stem that becomes its vivid characteristic. In addition to that, the spore print is similar to the cap’s color, displaying a rusty brown color.

And just like other poisonous mushrooms in Michigan, Fool’s Conecap has a look-alike called Psathyrella spp. This edible mushroom species shares a size and shape comparable to the toxic one. Fortunately, you can easily distinguish them through their spore prints, where Psythyrella Spp. has a grayish tone.

Despite looking harmless, Conocybe filaris contains amatoxins, the toxins that are also found in toxic Amanita species. Hence, ingesting even a small portion of this notorious mushroom will cause liver damage and can be lethal. If you mistakenly consume this fungus, thinking it is edible, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible. Why so? Because the earlier symptoms only occur 6-12 hours after ingesting, and that’s too risky!

7. Entoloma Spp. (Pinkgills Mushroom)

Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan
Entoloma Spp. (Pinkgills Mushroom)

Pinkgills or Entoloma spp. There is a group of mushroom species that have stunning colors. They feature pink and lilac to diverse shades of brown, decorating their caps, depending on the varieties. Also, their cap sizes and shape vary following the species, ranging from bell-shaped to convex.

Furthermore, the unique character of these fungi is their spore prints, which are typically pink, differentiating them from the edible ones, the Wood Blewit mushroom (Clitocybe Nuda). Blewit mushrooms have a similar shape, but the color is more lavender with white spore prints.

While mushrooms are a delicacy and enrich our culinary varieties, Pinkgills is not an option. They contain muscarine substances that will mess up your nervous system. When you consume Pinkgills, you may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. But you can handle it by hydrating yourself to remove the toxins through urine. In case mild symptoms occur, you can seek medical attention.

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8. Galerina Marginata (Deadly Galerina)

Poisonous Mushrooms in Michigan
Galerina Marginata (Deadly Galerina)

They are delicately innocent, but don’t get tricked! Galerina marginata or Deadly Galerina has a toxic punch. These little culprits showcase tiny, bell-shaped caps with tan to brown colors. The caps are attached to the delicate, thin stems.  

What sets these Deadly Galerina mushrooms apart is their spore print, sporting rusty brown colors. Thanks to this, you can differentiate these toxic mushrooms with edible Armillaria mellea (Hone Mushroom) with a creamy-white spore print.

But here’s the thing you must be aware of. These poisonous mushrooms in Michigan contain amatoxins, the ones that will get your liver and kidneys into trouble. For that reason, there’s no DIY alternative to handle this poisoning. You must submit yourself to the hospital immediately when you ingest even a small part of this fungus.  

9. Gyromitra Esculenta (False Morels)

Gyromitra Esculenta (False Morels)
Gyromitra Esculenta (False Morels)

And here’s the most prominent troublemaker in Michigan, False Morels or Gyromitra esculenta. Many cases of mushroom poisoning in the state are because of this culprit! It has an irregular brain shape, wrinkles, and a lobe cap closely resembling a messy honeycomb.

As for the color, you can observe a pale cream to dark brown tone, which distinguishes this fungus from edible True Morels. True Morels demonstrate a lighter brown color. They also have a conical, pitted cap attached to the stem, whereas the False Morels have more irregular lobes. When it comes to spore prints, False Morels typically produce a rusty-brown color.

Moreover, False Morels have gyromitrin toxins, which can threaten your nervous system as it can break down hydrazine toxins. These ones can lead to vomiting, nausea and can be fatal if treated late. If you suspect someone is consuming this mushroom, call medical help while providing intravenous fluids to prevent further toxin absorption.

10. Lepiota Naucina (Smooth Parasol)

Lepiota Naucina (Smooth Parasol)
Lepiota Naucina (Smooth Parasol)

No wonder this toxic fungus is named Smooth Parasol. The Lepiota naucina has a stamp shape similar to a stunning, smooth umbrella with a creamy white color. It also features a slender stem and closely packed gills beneath the cap, while the spore print is white.

However, don’t confuse Lepiota naucina with Macrolepiota procera or edible Parasol Mushroom. To avoid confusion, please check the cap as this edible one displays a scaled shape. Even though you see Smooth Parasol as harmless, it is actually deceitful. It contains amatoxins, toxic compounds found in the most deadly mushrooms in Michigan. They can damage your kidneys and liver when you ingest the mushroom.

In case you accidentally eat them, you must seek medical attention ASAP! The amatoxins are sneaky, showing symptoms around 6 to 12 hours after ingesting that may be too late to treat.

Real-life Cases of Mushroom Poisoning in Michigan

Despite the poison control efforts to educate about Michigan mushroom safety and share Michigan fungus warnings during the foraging season, they sometimes encounter mushroom poisoning cases in the state.

One of the things we found was a case of False Morel’s poisoning in 2015. It was reported that five people experienced poisoning due to consuming False Morels, thinking they were tasty edible morels. These numbers add to the previous case, reaching ten people in total.

Real-life Cases of Mushroom Poisoning in Michigan
Real-life Cases of Mushroom Poisoning in Michigan

Luckily, most of them experienced mild mushroom poisoning symptoms in Michigan in the form of nausea and diarrhea. He just needs to avoid himself until the symptoms slowly disappear. Meanwhile, three or four of them required further treatment in hospital due to more severe symptoms.

According to the doctor on duty, cases of mushroom poisoning in Michigan have also occurred with a more significant number of patients in 2014, totaling 46 people. The issue is similar: they consume false morels. The areas with the most reports of poisoning are Oakland, Lapeer, Macomb, Hillsdale, and Allegan Counties.

With this many cases, finding valid Michigan mycological resources is crucial to learning about mushroom edibility and Michigan mushroom toxicity. These resources also help to increase Mushroom toxicity awareness in Michigan so that similar incidents do not happen again.

Toxic Look-Alikes: Common Confusions

If we look at previous cases, people who experienced poisoning and needed mushroom poisoning treatment in Michigan were wrong in identifying the mushrooms. The root of this problem is generally not understanding the Michigan wild mushroom guide.

Apart from that, some poisonous mushrooms in Michigan also have an edible look-alike. Hence, novice foragers mistakenly collect and cook them, thinking they are safe to eat.

Poisonous Mushrooms that Look Like Edible Mushrooms
Poisonous Mushrooms that Look Like Edible Mushrooms

This is, of course, very dangerous because these toxic mushrooms generally have toxins that are dangerous and even deadly. To mitigate this issue, please pay attention to this section. ne notorious fungus you should know is the Michigan Death Cap mushroom. The physical characteristics of Death Cap are similar to Paddy Straw Mushroom (Volvariella volvacea). Thus, exercising extreme caution is crucial when encountering this mushroom. 

Check on the pink to light brown free gills and the light to dark brown flat cap to ensure it is the edible fungus. If the cap is greenish, yellowish, or white with unattached white gills, it is a Death Cap. In addition, Death Cap generally grows near oak trees, while Paddy Straw Mushrooms are spread on grassy areas.

A White Poisonous Mushroom that Looks Like a Thorny Covered
A White Poisonous Mushroom that Looks Like a Thorny Covered

Apart from Death Cap, False Morels are the other most common species that cause the most poisonings in Michigan. They are mistaken for True Morels (Morchella Spp.), the edible sought-after fungus in the state. Fortunately, several characteristics of True Morels can help you identify them better. When you find morel mushrooms, observe the cap. It has a mesh-like or honeycomb with ridges and pits. The cap is also fully attached to the stem.

Moreover, try checking the color. The edible morels have a lighter color (tan to yellow). At the same time, the notorious one is generally darker (brown, reddish brown, gray, or tan). What’s more? The stem is hollow in edible species, while the solid one is observed in toxic morels.

Remember that accurate identification is vital. Hence, we highly encourage you to look for Michigan mycology sources. Our experts compile the educational citations in the following section!

Michigan Foraging Educational Resources

Acknowledging the importance of mushroom identification knowledge in Michigan, you must learn more about the fungal kingdom. If you love reading, our experts recommend “Mushroom of the Midwest” by Michael Kuo and Andrew S. Methven. 

This book provides a comprehensive mushroom guide with detailed descriptions and images you can easily navigate to ensure you have proper insights before adventuring in the wilderness. 

Michigan Foraging Educational Resources
Michigan Foraging Educational Resources

In addition, we also encourage you to visit the Michigan Mushroom Hunters website to check on their valuable information regarding mushroom species in Michigan.

On the online page, you can also find resources and join forums to exchange knowledge about Michigan wild mushroom hazards and extend your network with other aspiring mushroom enthusiasts. If you want to go beyond, we highly recommend participating in events and workshops that offer mushroom identification practices from experts to accelerate your learning process. 

Sometimes, these occasions also provide hands-on learning to evaluate your insights about fungi, minimizing the risks of mushroom poisoning, whose consequences are dire. 

Final Thought

Michigan flora offers the beauty of mushrooms, whether edible or toxic. Nonetheless, a careful approach is necessary to identify poisonous mushrooms in Michigan. Seeking guidance from experts and enriching your insights about fungi is highly recommended to minimize poisoning risks.

With the proper knowledge of Michigan mushroom species, forager enthusiasts can explore the wilderness while ensuring their safety and being cautious of Michigan mycological dangers. Don’t let yourself be lulled by the allure of fungi in Michigan and compromise your well-being. It’s not worth the consequences!

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How have climate change and environmental factors influenced the distribution of poisonous mushrooms in Michigan over recent years?

In recent years, Michigan’s climate and environment have undergone changes. The rising temperatures have led to alterations in the State’s ecosystems, contributing to shifts in the distribution of mushroom species. 

This change may stimulate the emergence of new species in certain areas. It’s not just the temperature; changes in humidity and increased moisture result in intense rainfall, creating ideal conditions for mushrooms to flourish in Michigan. 

Moreover, this is supported by the State of the World’s Fungi 2018 report, which highlights the impact of climate change on fungi. However, these climate changes also affect the fruiting season of some mushrooms. For instance, edible ones, like Cantharellus spp. and Boletus edulis, experience delays in their fruiting season due to these changes. 

Our experts assume that poisonous mushrooms may also experience this pattern. Unfortunately, research focusing on the effects of climate change on poisonous mushrooms in Michigan is still lacking.

What are the most reliable resources and tools available for Michiganders to safely identify mushrooms and differentiate between safe and toxic varieties?

There are some of the most reliable resources and tools available for Michiganders to observe mushrooms safely. One of the recommended sources our experts rely on is the Michigan Mushroom Hunter’s Club website. It offers rich knowledge with visual aids to help you identify fungi you find in the woods. 

Furthermore, we also recommend engaging with the North American Mycological Association to get comprehensive information about Michigan mushroom species. And for the most detailed one, there’s none other than Mushroom of the Midwest book, where you can get descriptions with pictures of mushrooms, assisting you with proper identification.

How can individuals contribute to ongoing research and data collection efforts related to poisonous mushrooms in Michigan to enhance our understanding of these fungi?

One of the most effective ways for Michiganders to participate in research and data collection regarding mushrooms is to join local mycological clubs. In general, they will hold workshops with experts and help researchers to collect data. 

Moreover, using online platforms, like iNaturalist, and reporting findings about new mushroom species will enable researchers to analyze the fungus further. You can document the picture, the characteristics of the mushrooms, the habitat map, and the location of the findings as reference data for scientists to identify the species.

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