Mushroom Field Guide of Michigan

Mushroom Field Guide of Michigan
Mushroom hunting is a handy skill, whether it be for wilderness survival or for putting tasty, wild food on the camp table or even the dinner table at home. Michigan, with its wet conditions and deep forests, is prime mushroom hunting country. Mushrooms grow throughout the state. When you're on the hunt, seek out Michigan trails known for old-growth forests. 

Hunting Morels in Michigan

MorelsMichigan's morels are popular enough that a number of Michigan-oriented websites are devoted solely to this mushroom. Morels come in a number of different colors, but are easily identified by their sponge-like, conical caps and solid stems. One source of their popularity is their nutty, meaty flavor. Morels prefer wet forest floors with sandy soil, but these mushrooms can grow almost anywhere. In Southern Michigan, morels can sometimes be found as early as April, but they tend to show up in June in the Upper Peninsula. 

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 StumpiesHoney 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.

Key Tip

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

ChanterellesChanterelles 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 Safety

Be sure you know how to separate poisonous mushrooms from wild edible mushrooms that are safe to eat before going mushroom hunting. Never take a chance.You may also want to learn about other edible wild plants in Michigan to round out your knowledge. 

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 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.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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