7 Common Edible Mushrooms in Missouri

The top edible mushrooms you’ll find on your adventures in Missouri are morels, puffballs, chanterelles, and shaggy mane. But, of course, Missouri is a bountiful home of wild fungi for mushroom hunters.

What Mushrooms are Edible in Missouri?

There’s a reason Missouri is known as a hotbed for fungi growing activity.

The list includes:

1. Morel Mushrooms (Morchella spp.)

Morels are a well-known edible mushroom among mushroom hunters. You must be careful when mushroom hunting for edible mushrooms in Missouri. Morels can make people sick when confused for the poisonous mushroom false morel or when prepared incorrectly.

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Morels are easy to spot with their clear, pitted, and thimble-shaped cap, with a few other distinctive features.

There are 5 species of morels in Missouri:

  1. Yellow Morel (Morchella esculenta): The yellow morel is one of the most sought-after and commonly found morels in Missouri. It has a honeycomb appearance with a yellow to tan color.
  2. Black Morel (Morchella elata): The black morel is another common species in Missouri. It has a darker color, ranging from gray to black, and its cap is often deeply pitted.
  3. Half-free Morel (Morchella punctipes): The half-free morel has a cap that is only partially attached to the stem. It has a tan to yellowish color.
  4. White Morel (Morchella deliciosa): The white morel has a pale or whitish coloration.
  5. Gray Morel (Morchella tomentosa): The gray morel has a grayish color, and its cap is often covered with fine fuzz or momentum.

When to forage for morels?

The peak of the morel season in Missouri often occurs in mid to late April. In northern and higher elevation areas of Missouri, morels can still appear into early to mid-May.

Morel mushrooms tend to emerge when soil temperatures reach a certain range. The soil temperature should be around 50 to 60F (10 to 15 degrees Celsius) for morels to begin appearing.

Where to find them?

Look for them in deciduous woodlands, especially those with a mix of trees like oaks, ash, elm, and sycamores.

Morels are commonly found near water sources, such as creek bottoms. Abandoned or old apple orchards can also be a good location for morels.

Flavor & cooking tips

Morels have an earthy and nutty flavor that intensifies when cooked. The texture of morels is meaty and substantial

To get the best taste out of your morels, sear them in oil on high heat, like any other mushroom. The morel will brown nicely; you can continue softening them on a lower heat.

Be careful with adding butter, as it could burn before it’s brown enough.

I recommend the following recipes:

Watch our video to learn all about how to find, forage, and identify morel mushrooms!

2. Puffballs (Calvatia spp.)

Although at the top of the list, puffballs do not belong to the mushroom species or any of its genera’. As its name suggests, puffballs are just ball-shaped mushrooms with spores on their interior that look like a puffball.

Puffballs vary in nature; some boast spores that break open and others that puff when mature. Please ensure you eat puffballs only when young, are completely white inside and have no gills. Consume before the spores mature, as only young puffballs are edible.

When to forage for puffballs?

In Missouri, puffballs, particularly the giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea), are generally available in late summer through fall.

Look for them from August to October.

Where to find them?

Puffballs are often found in open areas, such as grassy fields and meadows. They can also appear in open woodlands or along the edges of wooded areas.

Flavor & cooking tips

Puffballs taste great as a meat alternative in stirfries and burgers, with a texture similar to tofu.

Harvest puffballs when they are young and the interior is still white and firm. Always cook them before eating. Many choose to bake, boil, roast, or fry puffballs in butter.

I recommend the following recipe:

Giant puffball
Giant puffball

3. Shaggy Mane (Coprinus Comatus)

When young, the shaggy mane is a white mushroom with a cylindrical and shaggy cap. As the shaggy mane ages, its cylindrical shape turns to a bell shape, with white scales that become brownish and upturned, with black spores.

When to forage for shaggy manes?

You can find them from May to October, with the peak season often occurring in late spring and early fall.

Look for them when daytime temperatures are mild, ranging from the 60s to 70s F (15 to 25 degrees Celsius).

Where to find them?

Shaggy manes are found in grassy areas and lawns, especially those with rich organic matter in the soil. Look for them in parks, golf courses, and open fields.

Flavor and cooking tips

Shaggy manes are best when harvested fresh. Choose specimens with upright caps that are still in the early stages of maturity and have not begun to turn black and liquefy.

Cook them briefly until they are tender. Overcooking results in a mushy texture. Most people like to fry their shaggy mane mushrooms.

I recommend the following recipe:

Shaggy mane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus)
Shaggy mane mushrooms

4. Chanterelles (Cantharellus)

Chanterelles are pretty easy to identify with their trumpet shape, wave edges, and spores that sit outside the trumpet bell. Instead of traditional gills, chanterelles have false gills that extend down the stem.

They are usually bright orange, yellow, or reddish-orange. Some have a fruity, pleasant fragrance. Cut the mushroom in half lengthways to reveal the center, which should be completely white.

You’ll usually find 5 species of the Cantharellus genus in Missouri, including;

  • Golden chanterelle (C. cibarius): It has a golden to yellow-orange cap with a distinctive funnel shape and false gills.
  • Smooth chanterelle (C. lateritius): this species has a smooth cap and a reddish-orange color.
  • Small chanterelle (C. minor): This is a smaller species with a pale yellow to orange cap.
  • C. appalachiensis: This species is often considered a variety of Cantharellus cibarius. It has a yellow to orange cap and is found in hardwood forests.
  • C. lateritius var. cretaceus: This is a variety of Cantharellus lateritius found in North America, including Missouri. It has a reddish-orange cap and is associated with hardwood trees.

When to forage for chanterelles?

Chanterelles can start appearing in late spring, typically around May or June, and can continue to be found through early fall, into September or October. The peak season is in midsummer.

Where to find them?

Chanterelles have mycorrhizal relationships with hardwood trees. Look for them near oak, beech, or other hardwood species. Look in areas where the forest floor is covered with leaf litter.

They often thrive in spots where there is a mix of sunlight and shade.

Flavor & cooking tips

Chanterelles have a mild, delicate flavor with fruity undertones. Their taste is often described as apricot-like

The easiest way to cook chanterelles is to fry them in a bit of butter. Besides sautéing, chanterelles can be grilled, roasted, or added to stir-fries.

I recommend the following recipes:

Watch our video on when and where to look for chanterelles.

5. Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus)

As another easy-to-spot edible mushroom in Missouri, chicken of the woods has a bright-orange cap with no stalk and a flat, shelflike fleshy texture. When young, the color is vibrant, paling to a lighter salmon or peach shade.

When to forage for chicken of the woods?

Chicken of the Woods may start appearing in late spring, typically from May onwards.

Look for it when daytime temperatures are mild to warm, ranging from the 70s to 80s F (21 to 30 degrees Celsius).

Where to find them?

Look for it in hardwood forests, especially where oak trees are present. This fungus is commonly found on dead or wounded trees.

Flavor & cooking tips

Chicken of the woods has a mild and savory flavor, often described as similar to chicken. The texture is meaty, also reminiscent of chicken.

Harvest chicken of the woods when it is still young and tender. As it ages, it becomes tougher.

To tenderize chicken of the woods enough to eat, most people prefer to sauté. Heat olive oil or butter in a pan, add sliced or chopped chicken of the woods, and cook until golden brown. Add garlic, salt, and pepper for seasoning.

I recommend the following recipes:

Chicken of the woods
Chicken of the woods

6. Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa)

Also known as maitake, this mushroom has a layered and frond-like structure. It resembles the feathers of a fluffed-up hen, which gives it its name. The color ranges from light to dark brown, with the edges of the fronds often lighter in color. The mushroom’s undersides have small pores rather than gills.

When to forage for hen of the woods?

The primary foraging season for hen of the woods typically starts in late summer, around August, and can extend into early fall, through October or even November.

Look for this mushroom during mild to cool weather.

Where to find them?

Hen of the woods is typically found at the base of hardwood trees, especially oaks. It is a saprophytic fungus, meaning it feeds on decaying wood.

The mushroom may take some time to fully develop, so check for mature specimens with well-formed fronds. The fronds should be firm and not overly dry or soggy.

Flavor & cooking tips

Hen of the woods has a mild and woodsy flavor, with some describing it as having a hint of earthiness and nuttiness. This mushroom is also known for its rich umami notes.

Roasting hen of the woods in the oven can enhance its natural flavors and create a crispy texture. Toss the cleaned and trimmed mushroom with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast until golden.

Hen of the woods pairs well with garlic, shallots, thyme, rosemary, and other herbs.

I recommend the following recipes:

Hen of the woods
Hen of the woods

7. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Lion’s mane is a distinctive mushroom with cascading, tooth-like spines, that resembles the mane of a lion, hence the name. The mushroom’s color ranges from white to cream.

When to forage for lion’s mane?

Lion’s mane is typically found from late summer, starting around August, through the fall months, extending into October and possibly November.

Look for it during mild to cool weather, when daytime temperatures are not excessively hot.

Where to find them?

Lion’s mane grows on hardwood trees, especially oaks and maples. Check around fallen trees and decaying wood.

While Lion’s Mane is often found at eye level or below, occasionally it can be found higher up on tree branches. Be sure to look up.

Flavor & cooking tips

Lion’s mane has a delicate and seafood-like flavor, with a mild sweetness. Its texture is often compared to that of crab or lobster meat.

Lion’s mane has a texture that some find similar to seafood or meat. Use it as a meat substitute in various dishes, such as tacos, sandwiches, or even as a “crab” or “lobster” alternative.

Enhance its flavor with herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or parsley.

I recommend the following recipes:

Lion's mane
Lion’s mane

What Mushrooms Are Poisonous in Missouri?

A handful of non-edible mushrooms in Missouri can make you very ill when consumed. Be sure to avoid the below list of Missouri’s wild mushrooms.

  1. False morels (Helvella and Gyromitra)
  2. Jack-o’-lantern mushrooms (Omphalotus olearius)
  3. Destroying angel (Amanita bispogera)
  4. Death cap (Amanita phalloides)
  5. Little brown mushrooms (little gray birds), like the most dangerous autumn skullcap or Galerina marginata
  6. Green-spored lepiota (Chlorophyllum molybdites)
  7. Angel of death (Leucoagaricus americanus)
  8. Ivory funnel (Clitocybe dealbata)

Check our video on the 7 most poisonous mushrooms growing in the US (mushroom details and ingestion symptoms included)!

Practical Foraging Tips

Now you can see why the Missouri conservation department recommends exercising caution when eating what could be potentially poisonous mushrooms.

Because some of Missouri’s wild mushrooms are poisonous, follow the below-foraging tips when mushroom hunting.

  1. Always do your research.
  2. Always check and double-check which mushroom you are picking, plucking, or preparing.
  3. Always have your field guide with you for mushroom identification.
  4. Try a small amount first to find out how the mushroom affects you.
  5. Only eat fresh, as the wild edible mushrooms in Missouri usually have a short shelf life.
  6. Always know how to prepare your wild mushrooms and whether or not they can be eaten raw.

More edible mushroom guides:

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