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Fall Mushrooms

Sep 09, 2018

As the fall air moves in, mushrooms begin to make their way to the surface. Although spring is the most popular time for mushroom hunting, other edible mushrooms start to appear in late September. Puffballs, usually found in lawns and open woods, appear rounded with no stalk. The size of the white or brown fungi ranges from one inch to a foot in diameter! If squished, a powder of thousands of tiny spores is emitted, earning the name "puffball". Bearded tooth, also known as lion’s mane, makes a fall appearance too. Its bear-like white spines hang off of tree trunks and fallen logs. After a good rain and mild weather, oyster mushrooms can also be found.  With fall just around the corner, consider hunting for these common Missouri mushrooms.

How Do I Know a Mushroom Is Edible?

If you’re collecting mushrooms to eat, some of them could be deadly poisonous. The only way to tell if a mushroom is edible is by positive identification. If you’re interested in eating wild mushrooms, learn how to identify them. Field guides will have pictures and descriptions of mushroom anatomy, cap shapes, surface textures, gill spacing, and other features used to determine what species it is. Take your time, and use common sense: If you’re not 100 percent positive of the ID, don’t eat it!

The Power of the Puffball

  • Giant puffballs can occasionally be huge, weighing 25 pounds or more. 
  • One mycologist estimated the number of spores in a 15-inch puffball to be as many as seven trillion! 
  • The ball is actually a spore sac. When immature, the inside is solid, but as it matures it changes into powdery spores. The spores are released when the sac breaks from weathering or damage.
  • Giant puffballs are often found on lawns, so be sure the area is free of lawn-treatment chemicals before collecting for cooking. It is a good idea to sample only a small amount at first, since some people are simply allergic to certain chemicals in certain fungi. Make sure they are cooked, too.

For more on the puffball, visit MDC’s Field Guide.

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