This page is dedicated to Bryan's crazy adventures and discoveries in the fascinating world of wild mushrooming. Check in often to learn about mushrooms found in Southeastern MN, both edible and otherwise.
Disclaimer: This page is not intended to be used as a guide to edible mushrooms. You should never consume mushrooms found in the wild without first consulting an experienced mushroom expert. Mushroom appearances can vary depending on seasonal and environmental factors and there are a number of poisonous look alikes to popular edible species. If you're not sure about a mushroom... don't eat it!
False Turkey Tail (Stereum ostrea)
A beautiful and commonly found mushroom in our woods! As you can probably guess by the name this mushroom can sometimes be confused with the Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor). You can easily tell the difference by looking at the underside of the mushroom. The False Turkey tail has a smooth undersurface that mirrors the top of the mushroom but the Turkey Tail will have yellowish to white pores.
Stalked Scarlet Cup (Sarcoscypha Occidentialis)
These are the cool little red cup mushrooms you see growing on dead branches on the forest floor. They start showing up in early spring and can last well into the summer. We don't know much about the edibility or medicinal value of these mushrooms but they sure are nice to look at!
Amadou (Fomes fomentarius)
This mushroom can be found year round in abundance in MN and it has been used by humans for thousands of years. The 5000 yr old "Ice man" who was found frozen in the Alps in the 90s had this mushroom with him. The fibrous material was used as a tinder to start and transport fires. It was also prepared and used to stop bleeding and prevent infection.
Sharp-scaly Pholiota (Pholiota squarrosoides)
This is a cool looking mushroom! The cap is covered with tiny sharp "scales" and when you see that you're most likely looking at a Pholiota. The tricky part is trying to figure out which Pholiota you're looking at... the Sharp-scaly Pholiota is listed as edible. It can be very difficult to distinguish this mushroom from it's poisonous look alike: the Scaly Pholiota (Pholiota squarrosa). They both have similar scales, grow on deciduous wood, can be found in late summer-fall, and have the same color spore print! The Sharp-scaly pholiota will have a sticky slime layer on the cap but this can easily be confused with wet conditions on a damp forest floor! I have not eaten this mushroom and unless you are with an experienced mushroom hunter who has, I suggest you admire its beauty instead of its taste.
Aydo (Aydenius Criglerilius)
Another common site in the forests of Southeastern Minnesota. This specimen can often be found along side Fungiboy (Bryanius Criglerilius). Note the happy, eager expression and mushroom basket. These are two distinctive features of Aydo and Fungiboy. Neither are edible but both are wonderful to look at!
False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)
I don't think it looks like a morel but I can see how an eager and inexperienced morel hunter may mistake it for one. This mushroom is deadly poisonous when eaten raw. Some people claim that they are edible after cooking. Cooking may reduce the toxicity enough for a meal, but toxins may accumulate in your system over a few meals and once again reach fatal levels. I personally don't think it's worth it since this mushroom fruits the same time as the much safer and probably much tastier morel! If you are unsure about a morel cut it in half. A morel will have a hollow chamber but most poisonous look alikes don't.
Yellow Morel (Morchella esculenta)
Even people who "don't like mushrooms" will go out hunting for morels! They can be found April-May. These mushrooms can grow in a variety of habitats. They can often be found in abundance after a forest fire as they are very partial to burn sites. I have also found them under dying elm, oak, and old apple trees. The relationship between morel and forest is not easily classified. It is definitely a saprophyte, feeding on decomposing matter, but it has also shown certain mycorrhizal-like characteristics with a number of trees. It is during the saprophytic stage that this fungus will fruit mushrooms so if you're hunting morel look for hanging bark!
Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)
This is a very recognizable mushroom and will light up the eyes of any wild mushroom hunter! These are medium to large gilled mushrooms and can vary in colors from white to yellowish-brown. Cultivated varieties can even be found in pinks and blues! These mushrooms will always be found on wood as they are saprophytic, but the whole tree does not necessarily have to be dead. The surface of oyster mushrooms will almost always be smooth and can even appear greasy. This is one way to distinguish them from the Bear Lentinus which will have a "furry" looking cap. I often notice an anise sent with wild oysters that can also help distinguish them. Store oysters in a paper bag in the fridge and cook them for a long time on low heat. Makes a great addition to any meal!
Dryad's Saddle (Polyporus squamosus)