How to Identify Wild Mushrooms in Michigan


Wild mushrooms grow throughout the state of Michigan, dotting tree trunks, popping up from the ground, and creeping out of dark corners and crevices. Some mushrooms are good to eat, some are just nice to look at, but all are part of a fascinating family known as fungi, and can be identified with a little work.

Mushrooms grow wild in Michigan.
(Mushroom an aspen mushroom image by vin5 from

Things You'll Need

  • Books and on mushrooms
  • Sack or container for collecting
  • White paper or sheet of plastic
Step 1

Check out books on mushrooms from the library, or purchase a few from a bookstore. Books on mushrooms will contain photographs and information on various types of fungi, and will state whether they are poisonous or safe to consume. Take a book on a walk in the woods to identify mushrooms as they are spotted.

Get a book on mushrooms.
The book image by Dzmitry Halavach from
Step 2

Make a spore print of mushrooms you found in the wilds of Michigan. Cut a mushroom and remove the stalk, then place cap's gill end against a sheet of white paper or clear plastic, and cover it with a bowl or glass. Let it to sit overnight, and the mushroom will deposit spores, making a print of sorts. This can be compared to prints in books and guides to help identify a mushroom.

Make a spore print.
toadstool image by Josef F Stuefer from
Step 3

Join the North American Mycological Association. A nationwide club for mushroom lovers and experts, the NAMA is a resource for fungi information and education. Residents of the mitten state can join the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club, which is NAMA-affiliated.

Join a Michigan mushroom club.
michigan map image by Vladislav Gajic from
Step 4

Look out for popular Michigan fungi. The chanterelle is a golden color and begins growing around the end of June or the beginning of July. This popular mushroom has curly edges and often reappears in the same place year after year, so hunters can return to a favorite spot to find a new crop annually to enjoy their fruity taste. The morel is renowned for its delicious flavor, and is grows all over Michigan. Hunters will recognize its distinct cap, which is wrinkly and brown, and attaches to a white stem.

Chanterelles are a Michigan favorite.
mushrooms image by Witold Krasowski from
Step 5

Learn to recognize some common, but dangerous mushrooms as well. Michigan has many tasty mushrooms sprouting up, but there are a few that can cause serious illness. Mushroom hunters should learn to identify them to avoid mishaps. The Jack O'Lantern mushroom is similar to the chanterelle, but is darker orange in color, and unlike the chanterelle, which grows from the ground, is found on trees. Also, the Jack O'Lantern mushroom has flesh the same color of its cap, whereas that of the chanterelle is white.

Learn to spot poisonous mushrooms to stay safe.
poison symbol image by patrimonio designs from

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Tips & Warnings

  • Never take risks with wild mushrooms--they can be deadly. Before eating mushrooms, check with an expert to make sure they are safe; some poisonous mushrooms are nearly identical to safe ones.


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