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12 Edible Mushrooms In Michigan And 6 Toxic Ones To Consider

12 Edible Mushrooms In Michigan And 6 Toxic Ones To Consider

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Mushrooms are mysterious types of food, considering that there are so many species out there in the wild that are still waiting to be discovered. 

Many adventurers and nature lovers therefore go on trips to deep woods in the hope that they will find something interesting. 

One part of America is particularly interesting when it comes to mushrooms, and that is Michigan. It is estimated that there are roughly 2,500 species of mushrooms there. 

However, you should know that not every mushroom is edible and that there are those types that can kill you. It is known that there are at least 60 edible species in Michigan, but there are also more than 50 known to be toxic. 

Although I won’t go through every edible and inedible mushroom in Michigan, you will be able to get to know a few of the most popular ones. 

1. Morel Mushroom

Morel Mushroom

Morel mushrooms, scientifically known as Morchella, are highly prized and sought-after edible mushrooms in Michigan. 

Although they can be found anywhere, there is a higher probability that you will notice them somewhere in wooded areas, particularly in springtime when the ground has warmed after winter. 

In Michigan, they mostly grow in Aspen (Popple) forests. If you are in Michigan and you decide to go to the forest to find some, you really have to be careful because there are some that look alike. 

To avoid any potential problems, you should know that this type of mushroom has a cone-shaped or elongated cap that is covered in a network of pits and ridges, resembling a sponge or honeycomb. 

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses 

Once you find the right one, knowing their flavor profile and cooking usage is most important. 

Namely, they have a nutty and earthy taste with hints of umami, and their texture is quite meaty. 

Because of their incredible flavor profile, they are frequently used in gourmet cuisine. Your best bet is to saute them in butter for an incredible taste, or you can use them as an ingredient in soups, sauces, and risotto. 

2. Oyster Mushroom

Oyster mushrooms are scientifically known as Pleurotus ostreatus, and they are also quite popular in Michigan. They are named “oyster mushrooms” due to their resemblance to an open oyster shell. 

Like morel mushrooms, they can be mostly found in Aspen forests, and they only grow on aspen trees. You will recognize them by their fan-shaped or oyster-shaped caps. 

The color is mostly white, but it can vary from white to shades of gray, brown, or even pink. 

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

When it comes to flavor, it is quite subtle and earthy, with a hint of aniseed. The texture is quite tender, similar to that of shiitake mushrooms. When cooked, they take on a delicate and slightly chewy consistency. 

They are also incredibly versatile and can be used in stir-fries, soups, risotto, pasta dishes, and even as a meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan cooking. For example, you can use them to make your own Korean barbecue. 

Additionally, Oyster mushrooms have plenty of health benefits and they are a great source of antioxidants.

3. Bears Head Tooth

Scientifically known as Hericium americanum, Bear’s Head Tooth is a type of edible mushroom that belongs to the tooth fungus group. 

It is closely related to the more well-known Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), and it also looks similar. This type of mushroom has a really unique and striking appearance. 

Its fruiting body consists of cascading spines or “teeth” that hang down from a central point, resembling a mass of icicles. They are typically creamy white in color and become more yellowish as the mushroom ages. 

If you are in Michigan and trying to find this interesting mushroom, go to the Northern hardwood forest, as they mostly grow there. 

Although it is mostly known for its medicinal properties (neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects), you can also use it for culinary purposes. 

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

It has a mild, sweet flavor with a delicate texture. When cooked, Bear’s head tooth has a texture similar to seafood, making it a popular choice among vegetarians and vegans as a seafood alternative. 

In general, there are many ways to cook it, including sautéing, stir-frying, or incorporating it into soups and stews.

4. Honey Mushroom

Honey Mushroom

Honey mushrooms, scientifically known as Armillaria, are a genus of edible and parasitic mushrooms that belong to the Physalacriaceae family.

They grow wild in many parts of the world and can also be cultivated on logs or other wooden structures. When it comes to the Michigan area, they are mostly found in Aspen forests. 

As the name suggests, this mushroom typically has honey-colored or reddish-browncaps . Those caps have a convex shape when young and a flattened shape as they mature. The gills on the underside of the cap are white or yellowish. 

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

In general, honey mushrooms have a mild and slightly nutty taste with a hint of sweetness. However, some species can be described as earthy and savory. 

And there are also some of them that should not be eaten, have a bitter taste, and can cause gastrointestinal problems, so it is important to go through careful identification. 

The edible ones can be used in many different dishes, including soups, stir-fries, or even on top of pizzas. 

5. Short-Stemmed Russula

Scientifically known as Russula brevipes, short-stemmed russula is a species of mushroom belonging to the Russula genus. 

It is mostly found in North America and Europe. Its main habitat is forests, so in Michigan, it mostly grows in Lowland conifer forests. 

You will recognize it by its white or yellow funnel-shaped cap, which is usually smooth or slightly sticky when moist and the gills on the underside of the cap are typically white or pale yellow. 

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

Short-stemmed russula can be quite variable in taste and texture. 

Some individuals find it mild and pleasant, while others may say it tastes slightly bitter or astringent. 

In general, cooking is essential because it is able to improve their taste and digestibility. Sautéing and stir-frying are popular cooking methods, but you can also incorporate these mushrooms into soups and stews. 

You can also use the cap of the short-stemmed Russula as a base for stuffing, or you can dry it and make mushroom powder, which is quite a popular ingredient in soups, sauces, and marinades. 

6. Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods, scientifically known as Laetiporus, is a genus of edible fungi that includes several species. 

They mostly grow on Oak trees, but they can be found on other trees as well, including the poisonous yew tree. I don’t have to tell you twice that you don’t even look at them if you find them in this tree. 

In order to recognize them, you have to know that they are typically large and conspicuous. They often grow in shelf-like clusters or brackets. The fruiting bodies have overlapping fan-shaped caps with a wavy or ruffled edge. 

When it comes to color, it can vary depending on the species, ranging from bright orange, yellow, to salmon pink or reddish-brown. 

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

It is no coincidence that this mushroom bears the term “chicken” in its name since its flavor and texture are quite similar to that of cooked chicken. Once cooked, the flesh becomes meaty and juicy. 

You can use it to make fried chicken or boneless buffalo “wings”. It is one of the best sides for sandwiches as well. 

Do not eat this mushroom raw because it can cause severe gastrointestinal discomfort when not cooked. 

7. Golden Chanterelle

Golden Chanterelle

It is another highly prized mushroom. Golden chanterelle is also known by its scientific name Cantharellus cibarius. 

It can be mostly found in North America and European regions. Actually, it was first discovered by native Americans, who used it to season their food. 

In Michigan, you can find Upland conifer forests. You will notice a funnel-shaped cap with a wavy or lobed edge. The diameter of the cap can range in size from a few centimeters to several inches. 

It is typically golden-yellow or yellow-orange, but the coloration can vary depending on environmental conditions. 

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

These golden beauties have a unique flavor profile that is often described as fruity, nutty, and slightly peppery. Its aroma is quite nice for a mushroom, and it is reminiscent of apricots and peaches. 

Back in the day in Europe, this mushroom was mostly used in sauces and soups, but today it is most commonly eaten raw on salads or as an appetizer with dips or cheese. 

However, there are no limitations because it can enrich various types of dishes, including sautés, stir-fries, risottos, pasta dishes, and omelets.

8. Hen of the Woods

Not to be confused with chicken of the woods, hen of the woods, scientifically known as Grifola frondosa, is another type of edible mushroom that can be found in Michigan. 

In Japan, these mushrooms are called Mitake, but they can also be referred to as Dancing mushrooms. A distant relative of this type of mushroom is the Kikurage mushroom

These mushrooms grow from dead wood and they can mostly be found in Northern hardwood forests if you are in Michigan. 

When it comes to their appearance, it is really a unique one, as it resembles a cluster of overlapping ruffled feathers or a hen sitting in a nest. 

The mushroom typically grows in large, fan-shaped clusters, and each cluster can reach a substantial size, ranging from a few inches to several feet in diameter. The individual fronds or caps are grayish-brown to dark brown, with a textured surface.

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

Hen of the Woods mushrooms have a rich, earthy flavor with a hint of umami. They have a meaty and firm texture, making them a popular choice for vegetarian and vegan dishes as they can provide a substantial and satisfying taste.

They are very versatile and you can use them in a variety of dishes, including sautés, stir-fries, soups, stews, and pasta dishes. 

Due to their firm texture, they hold up well to cooking and can be grilled, roasted, or braised. Their flavor pairs well with herbs, garlic, and other ingredients.

9. King Bolete

Its scientific name is Boletus edilus. King bolete is a wild, edible mushroom that is also known as Porcini, Cep, or Penny Bun. Some even call it the King of mushrooms because, unlike other mushrooms, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. 

In Michigan, it is mostly found in Upland conifer forests. It has a very distinctive appearance, so you shouldn’t have any problems recognizing it. 

It has a large, stout stem and a broad cap that is initially hemispherical, later becoming convex or flat as it matures. 

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

The king bolete is highly regarded for its rich, earthy flavor, and distinctive aroma. When cooked, its flavor intensifies, and it releases a delightful fragrance that is often described as mushroomy or forest-like. 

This mushroom is highly prized in the culinary world due to its versatility. You can use it in soups, stews, risotto, pasta dishes, omelets, and sauces. 

It is also well-suited for sautéing, roasting, and grilling. This mushroom is also very nutritious, as it is high in dietary fiber, vitamins B and D, as well as potassium, copper, and selenium. 

10. Hollow Stem Larch Suillus

Hollow Stem Larch Suillus

The Hollow Stem Larch Suillus, scientifically known as Suillus cavipes, is a type of mushroom that is commonly associated with larch trees. It belongs to the Suillus genus, which includes various species known as “Slippery Jacks”.

In Michigan, hollow-stem larch suillus can be found in Lowland conifer forests, and it mostly grows in the spring and early summer months. 

This mushroom has a convex or bell-shaped cap that can reach a diameter of several inches. 

The cap color varies from yellowish-brown to reddish-brown, and, when moist, it is covered with a sticky or slimy surface. The stem is long, hollow, and often curved.

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

Because of the slimy and sticky texture and mild, almost neutral flavor, this type of mushroom doesn’t have a very high culinary value. 

However, if you decide to cook it, I would advise you to remove the slimy surface first and thoroughly cook the mushroom to improve its texture and flavor. Sautéing, stir-frying, or incorporating it into soups, stews, and sauces are common preparation methods.

11. Lobster Mushroom

The scientific name of the lobster mushroom is Hypomyces lactifluorum. This type of mushroom is highly sought after by foragers and mushroom enthusiasts because of its culinary potential and high nutritional value. 

It typically grows in forests and woodland areas, often associated with hardwood trees. You can mostly find them during the summer and fall. 

One interesting thing about this mushroom is the fact that it is not a distinct specie, but the result of parasitic fungus, attacking and colonizing other mushrooms. 

Because of that, it takes on a completely different appearance. Namely, it typically has a vibrant reddish-orange to orange color, often resembling the outer shell of a cooked lobster.

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

Lobster mushrooms are highly valued for their delicate, sweet, and somewhat seafood-like flavor, which adds complexity to various dishes. 

Because of that, it pairs well with seafood chowder, but it can also hold on its own as the main course ingredient. You can also use it as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes. 

I feel obliged to mention that lobster mushrooms are highly beneficial for your health.

12. Michigan Truffle

Also known as Oregon White Truffle (Tuber oregonense), the Michigan truffle is native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America, including parts of Michigan. 

It is mostly found growing near pine and spruce trees, and most foragers use their truffle dogs to sniff them out. This search usually happens between August and November since that is the best time for harvest. 

The Michigan Truffle is a subterranean fungus, meaning it grows underground in a mycorrhizal association with the roots of certain tree species.

The outer surface of the truffle is rough and knobby, with a dark brown to black color. The interior, known as the gleba, is whitish to pale brown with marbling or veins.

Flavor Profile and Cooking Uses

This mushroom has a sweet but slightly musty odor, and the flavor is no different. 

When it comes to cooking appliances, this type of mushroom is not commonly cooked but rather used as a garnish. It is an exquisite addition to many dishes, including pasta, soups, and potatoes. 

Poisonous Mushrooms In Michigan

Now that you know the most popular edible mushrooms in Michigan, it is even more important to know and recognize the poisonous ones. So I will briefly go through the most important ones. 

1. Eastern Destroying Angel

Eastern Destroying Angel

The name itself is creepy enough to give you the chills. And indeed, this mushroom known by the scientific name Amanita bisporigera, is one of the most toxic mushrooms in the world. 

The creepiest part about it is that it usually makes you feel better after consuming it, but after a few days, the major organs begin to fail and then there is no escape. 

In order to recognize it, you have to know that it is a white or off-white cap that is initially convex and then flattens with age. 

The stem is usually white, cylindrical, and it may have a delicate ring or partial veil. 

2. False Morel

It is very important to know about this one because many people confuse it with true morel, which is edible and can also be found in Michigan. 

Aside from that, some people falsely believe that this mushroom is edible if cooked properly. 

The thing is that you can eat it for a very long time without experiencing any symptoms. 

And then suddenly, even after a few years, you can get really sick and die. So, be careful with this one. 

3. Eastern Jack O’Lantern

Eastern Jack O’Lantern is a specific type because, in general, it is edible because it won’t kill you, but it contains the toxin muscarine, which can cause a variety of symptoms such as blurred vision, difficulty breathing, and a fast heart rate. 

However, nobody likes to experience these symptoms, so it is important to know how to avoid them. 

The problem is that this type of mushroom looks very similar to chanterelle species because it has the same orange color. 

Otherwise, it doesn’t look like it, but if you are inexperienced, you can get fooled by the color, so it is important to be careful. 

4. Autumn Skullcap

Autumn Skullcap

If you search for mushrooms in the autumn, there is a high probability that you will notice small brown mushrooms with smooth cao and rusty-colored spore print. 

You have to know that those are poisonous autumn skullcaps that can cause various dangerous symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage, hypothermia, as well as death. 

5. Death Cap Mushroom

Another toxic mushroom that can be found in Michigan is the Death Cap mushroom, one of the most toxic mushrooms in the world. 

It contains deadly amatoxins, which can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea in the first place, followed by certain death. 

You will recognize it by its pale to olive-green cap, white gills, and a cup-like structure called a volva at its base. 

6. Deadly Galerina

Scientifically known as Galerina marginata, the deadly galerina is another poisonous mushroom in Michigan that contains amatoxin, a poison that affects the liver and can cause death. 

This mushroom is very similar to the edible Paddy straw mushroom, so it is important to know how to recognize it. 

Namely, you will recognize it by its brown cap with white gills and a white stalk.