Safely Identifying Morels
It is fairly easy it is to separate morels from poisonous mushrooms with a similar appearance. To separate a real morel from a "false" poisonous one, cut it open. If the stem is hollow, the morel is safe to eat. This fact makes morels one of the easiest mushrooms to identify in the field.
Seeking Michigan's Stumpies
Honey mushrooms, or "stumpies" as they are called in Michigan, are found growing on the rotting wood of fallen trees or stumps. However, they are also known to grow on living trees, where they are considered a major parasite. The stumpies grow in clusters and have a honey-like coloring. The cap is rounded when the mushroom is young but flatter when it matures. It has a strong flavor and its season is mid-to-late autumn.
Stumpies Safety Considerations
Some stumpies are safe to eat and some are not. Even the edible honey mushrooms are not safe to eat raw. They must be thoroughly cooked to avoid giving you digestive problems. However, there are lookalikes that are even more toxic. The poisonous mushrooms can be identified by their brown or rust-colored spores, while safe stumpies have white spores.
If you do encounter a clump of honey mushrooms growing on or around a living tree, consider pulling out its equivalent of a root system. This is one mushroom you do not want growing back in future years, as its presence damages the living host tree.
Locating Chanterelles in Michigan
Chanterelles are shaped like trumpets. Some are orange or yellow, while another chanterelle variety is black. The mushrooms grow in the hardwood forests of Michigan between mid-summer and mid-autumn.
Separating Chanterelles From Poisonous Look-Alikes
However, they do have a dangerous lookalike, the jack-o-lantern. The quickest way to separate safe chanterelles from jack-o-lanterns is to look under the cap. If the mushroom has a network of gill-like ridges that are straight and sharp-edged, it is a jack-o-lantern.
Mushroom Picking Tips
When picking mushrooms, you should either pluck or cut the mushroom free from just below its base, leaving its root-like structures intact so the mushroom will grow back in the coming years.
Successful Michigan Mushroom Hunting
For an even more extensive list of wild edible mushrooms that grow in Michigan, see MichiganMorels.com. To successfully hunt for mushrooms, you need to know where to find them and how to separate edible mushrooms from their poisonous lookalikes. While other mushroom hunters aren't likely to share their favorite spots with you, expert trail guidebooks provided online can be a great resource to help you identify the best places to look.