Edible Mushrooms

Morel Mushroom Hunt

Once you have learned Basic Mushrooming skills, and have learned to “know when you don’t know,” you’re ready to start sampling some of the best wild food Missouri has to offer.

Learn key identifying features so you don’t make an unpleasant (even fatal) mistake.

Always use caution!

  • Never eat a wild mushroom unless you're absolutely certain of its species. Read Basic Mushrooming to learn how to identify Missouri's wild mushrooms.
  • Never eat wild mushrooms raw. They can be hard to digest or have irritants that are deactivated by cooking.
  • If you’re trying one for the first time, eat only a few (cooked) bites, and save a raw specimen in the fridge for 48 hours. This will be helpful if it turns out you’re allergic or sensitive to it — or if you’ve made a mistake.
  • Don’t mix more than one kind of mushroom if you’re trying them for the first time.

If you are new to mushroom hunting, focus on the easiest and most fool-proof types

The following list includes species that are deemed safe to eat, and it includes several that are considered choice and excellent edible mushrooms. Click on each to go to its field guide entry, for a brief description of the mushroom, including where and when it can be found — very important for accurate identification. If there are reasons for caution, they are noted.

Photo of two ash tree boletes, tan pored mushrooms, one overturned showing pores
Boletinellus merulioides

The ash tree bolete is a pored mushroom with a brownish, wavy cap, an off-center stalk, and clearly defined pores. It grows scattered on the ground near ash trees.

Photo of bearded tooth, white round beardlike mushroom growing from tree trunk
Hericium erinaceus

The bearded tooth is a beardlike, whitish mass that grows on trunks of living deciduous trees and on fallen trees and logs.

Photo of beefsteak polypore, a rust-colored bracket fungus growing on tree base
Fistulina hepatica

The beefsteak polypore is a thick, semicircular, reddish or rusty, gelatinous bracket with a pinkish yellow underside. It grows at the base of living oaks and on stumps.

Photo of Berkeley's polypore, fresh, young specimen.
Bondarzewia berkeleyi

Berkeley’s polypore grows in rosettes or clusters of fleshy, cream-colored caps, with whitish pores that descend the stalk. Look for them on the ground near the bases of trees.

Photograph of a black morel mushroom
Morchella angusticeps (formerly M. elata)

The black morel is a prized edible mushroom. It has a honeycombed cap with black to brownish black ridges and yellowish brown pits. It is completely hollow and grows in the spring.

Photo of two black trumpets, dark brown vase-shaped mushrooms on mossy ground
Craterellus cornucopioides (C. fallax)

The black trumpet is dark brown to black, vase- or trumpet-shaped, with a wavy margin and no gills. It grows in groups of few to many on rocky, mossy hillsides in deciduous woods.

Photo of black-staining polypore, a mushroom with tan, wavy, fan-shaped caps
Meripilus sumstinei (formerly M. giganteus)

The black-staining polypore grows in large, circular clusters of many fleshy, grayish yellow, fan-shaped caps, which bruise black when cut or touched. It grows on the ground around deciduous trees, especially oaks.

Blewits
Lepista nuda (Clitocybe nuda; Tricholoma nudum)

The blewit grows scattered in open areas, in mulch piles, and along paths. All parts of this mushroom—cap, gills and stalk—are violet to tan.

Image of smooth chanterelle
Cantharellaceae (various members of family)

Chanterelles are funnel- or trumpet-shaped and have wavy cap edges. Most are bright orange or yellow, although one, the black trumpet, is brownish black.

Photo of a cinnabar chanterelle, vase-shaped red-orange mushroom
Cantharellus cinnabarinus

The cinnabar chanterelle is a small, reddish orange, vase-shaped mushroom with forked ridges on the underside that descend the stalk. It grows in the soil.

Photo of two comb tooth mushroom clusters growing on a fallen log.
Hericium coralloides (formerly H. ramosum)

The comb tooth is a branched, whitish mass on fallen logs and decaying deciduous trees. Its branches are covered with tufts of hanging, toothlike spines.

Photo of cluster of common laccaria, small brownish pink mushrooms, in grass
Laccaria laccata

The common laccaria has a small, brownish pink cap with a central depression; the gills and stalk are a pale pinkish brown. Grows scattered or in groups in poor or sandy soil in mixed woods.

Photo of cluster of pinkish crown-tipped coral mushrooms growing on rotting log
Artomyces pyxidatus (formerly Clavicorona pyxidata)

The crown-tipped coral is a many-branched, coral-like mushroom that is yellowish tan with crownlike tips. It grows on the dead wood of deciduous trees.

Top-view photo of three dryad's saddles, a tan bracket fungus, growing on wood
Polyporus squamosus

The dryad's saddle is a large, fleshy, scaly, yellowish tan bracket fungus with large, yellowish white pores and a short stalk; it smells like watermelon rind. It grows singly or in layers, on living or dead deciduous wood.

Photo of eastern cauliflower mushroom, tan and white cauliflower-like mushroom
Sparassis spathulata (S. herbstii)

The eastern cauliflower mushroom is a large, stalkless, whitish yellow rosette with flattened, wavy, ribbonlike folds. It grows singly, at the bases of trees and often at the base of decayed oak stumps.

Photo of an elegant stinkhorn mushroom, a pink column covered with brown slime
Mutinus elegans

The elegant stinkhorn is a long, tapered, pinkish orange column with a greenish brown, smelly slime covering the top and a white cup around the base. It grows on leafy debris, mulch piles, and rotting wood.

Photo of many tan fairy ring mushrooms, some uprooted, growing in grass
Marasmius oreades

The fairy ring mushroom has a tan to reddish brown, knobbed cap with off-white gills. It grows in grassy areas, lawns, meadows, often in circles called fairy rings.

Photo of a fawn mushroom, which is a brownish gray, gilled, capped mushroom
Pluteus atricapillus (formerly P. cervinus)

The fawn mushroom has a brownish gray cap with whitish to pinkish gills and a whitish stalk. It grows singly or scattered, on dead wood or on the ground over buried wood.

Photo of two Frost's boletes, red mushrooms with pores, at different angles
Boletus frostii

Frost’s bolete has a blood red cap with red pores and a red, webbed stalk; all parts bruise blue. It grows scattered on the ground in oak woods.

Photograph of cluster of mature gem-studded puffball mushrooms
Lycoperdon perlatum

The gem-studded puffball is a white, rounded to turban-shaped ball, densely covered with spiny warts, developing a pore at the top. It grows on the ground in open woods, along roads, in waste areas.

Photo of a giant puffball, a large, smooth, rounded mushroom, growing in grass
Calvatia gigantea (Langermannia gigantea)

The giant puffball is a huge, white, smooth ball with a completely white interior that becomes yellowish green with age. It grows in open pastures, woods, and lawns.

Photo of golden chanterelles, yellow and white vase-shaped mushrooms
Cantharellus cibarius

Golden chanterelles have a bright orange to yellow cap with wavy margins; beneath, they're orange-yellow, with forked ridges (not true gills) descending the stalk. They grow in soil.

Photo of green cracking russula, greenish-capped, gilled mushroom
Russula virescens

Green cracking russula has a cap with a greenish, cracked, mosaic-like top, and cream-colored gills. It grows singly or in groups in mixed woods.

Photograph of a half-free morel mushroom
Morchella punctipes (formerly M. semilibera)

The half-free morel is an excellent edible mushroom. It's completely hollow. It has a honeycombed cap with brownish black ridges and yellowish brown pits. The bottom half hangs free from the whitish stalk.

Photo of three hedgehog mushrooms, two show tan cap, third shows teeth under cap
Hydnum repandum (Dentinum repandum)

The hedgehog mushroom has an irregularly shaped, dull orangish tan cap, with spines or "teeth" on its underside. It grows on the ground in mixed woods.

Photo of hen of the woods, large round mass of grayish mushrooms
Grifola frondosa

Looking like a ruffled chicken, the edible hen of the woods mushroom grows like large circular bouquet of spoon-shaped caps, each grayish brown on top and white beneath, emerging from a branching, whitish base. It grows on the ground at the base of oak trees.

Photograph of several hexagonal-pored polypores, tan bracket fungi
Polyporus alveolaris (formerly Favolus alveolaris)

This polypore is an orange to tan, fan-shaped bracket that is scaly on top; the underside has rows of white, six-sided, radially arranged pores. It grows singly or in groups on dead branches of deciduous trees.

Photo of young, yellow-phase honey mushrooms.
Armillaria mellea

The honey mushroom has a honey-colored, sticky cap with black hairs over the center, and a stalk with a whitish ring. It grows in clusters at the bases of trees or stumps, especially oaks, and over buried wood.

Photo of indigo milky, bluish gilled mushroom, with cuts bleeding blue sap
Lactarius indigo

Entire mushroom bluish, bleeding blue; then greenish, bruising greenish. The indigo milky grows scattered or in groups on soil in oak and pine woods.

Photo of ling chih, a shiny, hard, rust-colored bracket fungus, growing on tree
Ganoderma lucidum

The ling chih is a hard, usually flat, zoned bracket fungus with a reddish brown, shiny top. It grows at the base of living and dead deciduous trees, and also around stumps.

Photo of lobster mushroom, which is orange-yellow and finely bumpy
Hypomyces lactifluorum

In a lobster mushroom, the cap, gills, and stalk of a host mushroom are covered by a finely bumpy, vivid orange to orange-red layer of mold. The gills of the host mushroom can be entirely obscured by the parasite.

Photo of two meadow mushrooms, at different angles, white with pinkish tan gills
Agaricus campestris

The meadow mushroom has a smooth white to light grayish cap and pinkish brown gills. It's found in lawns and other grassy areas.

Photo of mica cap cluster, bell-shaped, brown, capped mushrooms
Coprinellus micaceus (formerly Coprinus micaceus)

The mica cap has a bell-shaped, tawny brown, radially lined cap and inky gills. It grows in clusters around stumps or on wood debris.

Photo of common morels growing on forest floor
Morchella species

A favorite Missouri wild edible, morels only appear in the spring. They're very hard to see, but that's part of the fun of hunting them. Learn to identify them, and you can enjoy the hunt, too.

Photo of an old man of the woods, a grayish, pored mushroom with a shaggy cap
Strobilomyces floccopus

The old man of the woods has a grayish black, shaggy cap with grayish pores and a grayish black, shaggy stalk. It usually grows singly, on the ground in mixed hardwood forests.

Photo of oyster mushrooms growing on a tree trunk
Pleurotus ostreatus and P. pulmonarius

Oyster mushrooms are choice edibles with broad, fleshy, whitish, grayish, or tan caps and a stubby, off-center stalk. They grow clustered on stumps, logs, and trunks.

Photo of pale chicken of the woods.
Laetiporus cincinnatus

Pale chicken of the woods has layered, fan-shaped, fleshy caps that are orange to pinkish orange on top and white below. This edible fungus grows in overlapping clusters or rosettes on stumps, trunks, and logs of dead or dying deciduous trees, and on living trees and buried roots.

Photo of two pallid boletes, tan mushrooms, one upturned to show pores under cap
Boletus pallidus

The pallid bolete has a pale cream to buff cap and stalk and pale cream-yellow pores. It grows singly or in groups of up to several, on the ground in oak woods.

Photo of many crowded pear-shaped puffballs growing on a stump.
Lycoperdon pyriforme (Morganella pyriformis)

This is a pear-shaped, yellowish brownish puffball with a pore at the top. Pear-shaped puffballs typically grow in large clusters on decaying wood, logs, and stumps.

Photo of 2 peppery milkies, white, gilled mushrooms, on ground
Lactarius piperatus

The peppery milky has a white cap with densely crowded gills. It bleeds white and has a spicy-hot taste. It grows scattered in deciduous woods.

Photo of an aging Ravenel's stinkhorn, a column-shaped fungus with dark spores
Phallus ravenelii

Ravenel's stinkhorn is a long, whitish column with a greenish, smelly slime covering the top, and a whitish or pinkish cup around the base. It grows on wood debris, mulch, rotted stumps, and sawdust, and in deciduous woods.

Photo of reddening lepiota, tan, gilled mushroom growing in mulch
Leucoagaricus americanus (Lepiota americana)

The reddening lepiota is a large, reddish brown mushroom with a scaly cap and a ring on the stalk; it bruises dark red. It grows singly or in clusters in mulch piles, waste areas, and around stumps.

Photo of resinous polypore, a bracket fungus with rust-colored top
Ischnoderma resinosum

The resinous polypore is a large, thick, velvety, brownish bracket fungus with a thick margin and whitish pores. It grows on logs and stumps of deciduous trees.

Photo of young, golden cluster of ringless honey mushrooms on forest floor
Armillaria tabescens (Armillariella tabescens)

The ringless honey mushroom is honey-colored, with a dry, scaly cap, and lacks a ring on the stalk. It grows in clusters at the bases of trees or stumps, especially of oaks, and over buried wood.

Photo of rooted collybia, tan, thin-stalked gilled mushroom
Xerula furfuracea (Collybia radicata var. furfuracea)

The rooted collybia has a moist, wrinkled, grayish brown flat cap and a long, slender stalk that continues underground. It grows singly or scattered on and around deciduous trees and stumps.

Photo of scarlet waxy cap, a small mushroom with reddish conical cap
Hygrocybe coccinea (Hygrophorous coccineus)

The scarlet waxy cap has a scarlet, moist cap, with a stem colored like the cap (or a little more orange). It grows on the ground in mixed woods.

Photo of shaggy mane cluster, rounded cylindrical mushrooms growing in grass
Coprinus comatus

The shaggy mane has a white, shaggy, cylindrical cap that turns black and inky. It often grows in large numbers along roadsides and in lawns and disturbed areas.

Photo of smooth chanterelles, vase-shaped yellow and white mushrooms
Cantharellus lateritius

The smooth chanterelle has a bright orange to yellow cap, wavy margins, and is smooth on the underside. It grows singly or in large groups in the soil.

Chicken of the Woods
Laetiporus sulphureus

Sulfur-colored chicken of the woods is an edible fungus with layered, fan-shaped, fleshy caps that are orange on top and sulfur yellow below. It grows in overlapping clusters on stumps, trunks, and logs of dead or dying deciduous trees, and on living trees and buried roots.

Photo of big cluster of turkey tails, bracket fungus with concentric color rings
Trametes versicolor

Turkey tail grows in clusters of leathery, thin brackets with multicolored zones above and whitish yellow pores below. Look for it on stumps and logs of deciduous trees.

Boletus bicolor

The two-colored bolete has a rose red cap that is sometimes yellowish toward the margin. The underside has tiny yellow pores, and the stalk is reddish yellow; all parts slowly bruise blue. Grows singly or in groups of up to several, on the ground under oaks.

Photo of three voluminous-latex milkies, tan mushrooms, of different sizes
Lactarius volemus

The voluminous-latex milky has a velvety, orangish brown cap and stalk, white gills and flesh that exude a milky white latex, and a fishlike odor. It grows scattered in deciduous woods.

Photo of witches' butter, a yellow gelatinous bloblike fungus
Tremella mesenterica

Witches' butter is a fungus that looks like small, yellow, irregularly lobed, gelatinous masses. It grows on dead deciduous wood, especially oaks.

Photo of wood ear mushroom, which looks like a brownish human ear stuck to a log
Auricularia auricula (formerly A. auricula-judae)

The wood ear is a reddish brown to grayish black, rubbery, earlike or cup-shaped mushroom. It usually grows in groups on rotting wood.

Photo of common morels growing on forest floor
Morchella esculentoides (formerly M. esculenta)

The yellow morel is a choice edible mushroom. It has a honeycombed cap with yellow to grayish to tan ridges and pits. It is completely hollow and grows in the spring.

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