The state of Arkansas is truly a magnet for nature enthusiasts, thanks to its stunning lakes, rivers, mountains, and abundant wildlife. It’s no wonder that Arkansas has earned the well-deserved nickname of the Natural State. If you’re someone who loves to forage mushrooms and considers yourself a mycophile, then this list of mushrooms in Arkansas is perfect for you!
This article included a list of some of the more common types of mushrooms that may be found growing wild in Arkansas, including their natural environments, their physical characteristics, and some information, such as whether or not they’re edible.
12 Mushrooms in Arkansas
Scientific Name: Cantharellus cibarius
The chanterelle is widely recognized and often found in Arkansas, typically growing close to conifers or hardwood trees. People frequently add them to various dishes and enjoy their fruity flavor, which is similar to apricots. Because of their funnel shape and yellow to dark yellow coloring, which sets them apart from other types of toxic mushrooms, it’s simple to recognize this species when you’re looking for it in the wild.
2. Turkey-tail Mushroom
Scientific Name: Trametes versicolor
This mushroom species is widely distributed worldwide and can also be observed within the state. Moist places with decaying logs, fallen trees, or even decaying leaves and debris on the forest floor are good places to hunt for them.
The name of the turkey’s tail comes from its resemblance to a turkey’s tail, which is characterized by concentric zones of different colors, typically rust-brown or darker brown. Despite being commonly found in Arkansas, this species can’t be eaten because of its thick, woody texture.
3. Chicken of the Woods
Scientific Name: Laetiporus sulphureus
If you happen to come across a fungus in Arkansas with fan-shaped caps, it could be the chicken of the woods. Many mushroom hunters actively seek out this species because it has a delicious taste that’s often compared to chicken, which is why it’s commonly called the chicken of the woods.
When you go hunting, remember only to harvest the young ones because the old species can be tough and unpalatable. You can easily identify them due to their special features of having large caps and vibrant colors ranging from bright orange to sulfur yellow.
4. Green-spored Parasol
Scientific Name: Chlorophyllum molybdites
Another common mushroom in the state is the green-spored parasol, which appears after summer and autumn rains. You may also observe the growth of these fungi in lawns, pastures, and meadows, as they form circular patterns commonly referred to as fairy rings.
Always remember that this species is highly poisonous. In fact, it holds an unfavorable reputation for being the most frequently consumed poisonous mushroom in North America. Consuming them can cause you to experience unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and colic.
5. Common Puffball
Scientific Name: Lycoperdon perlatum
Common puffballs grow in various habitats, such as woods, grassy areas, and along roads, where you can observe them growing solitarily, in groups, or even in fairy rings. To identify them, simply look for their pear-shaped fruit bodies.
As they age, these fruit bodies begin as white and gradually transition to a brownish shade. When this species reaches maturity, it releases puffs of spores when something disturbs it. However, young ones are still in their white and firm state, making it the perfect time to harvest them for consumption.
6. Dryad’s Saddle
Scientific Name: Polyporus squamosus
Dryad’s Saddle is an edible species when it’s in its young stage. However, as it matures, it can become infested with maggots, which causes it to become firm, rubbery, and ultimately inedible. This mushroom has a gentle, nutty taste and emits an aroma similar to watermelon rind.
You can recognize them by the cap of this species, which has scales and can range in color from yellow to brown. The name of this fungi also originates from the creatures in Greek mythology known as dryads. These mythical beings could sit and rest on this particular mushroom, which is why it was given the same name.
7. Lion’s mane
Scientific Name: Hericium erinaceus
One mushroom you may find in the state that’s very common and well-known is the lion’s mane, which is often used for traditional medicine. This species is edible, and people commonly use it in gourmet cooking.
While Asian countries commonly have these species, they can also grow in North America, specifically in deciduous wooded areas. You may easily recognize them by their fruit bodies with shaggy spines that are white in color.
8. Fly agaric
Scientific Name: Amanita muscaria
The state of Arkansas is also where the enchanting mushroom known as fly agaric can be found. The appearance of this particular species is frequently utilized in comics and cartoons, displaying a cap that’s dark red to reddish-orange in color with distinct white patches. Although this fungus may appear enchanting with its magical appearance, it’s crucial to remember that it has a high level of toxicity and may result in hallucinogenic effects in individuals who consume it.
9. Splitgill Mushroom
Scientific Name: Schizophyllum commune
You may find the Splitgill mushroom growing on decaying wood, where it takes on an unusual look similar to the curving waves of tightly packed corals or loose Chinese fans. As they mature, their gills dry out, split, and produce spores, which is where their names came from.
The color of these mushrooms is creamy yellow to pale white, and they have a spongey texture. Although it isn’t classified as poisonous, the fact that it’s small and tough makes it completely inedible.
10. Shaggy Mane
Scientific Name: Coprinus comatus
Shaggy mane, also known as shaggy ink cap, is an unusual mushroom with shaggy scales on its cap. It’s mostly white, but its gills transform from white to pink, then to black, and finally to black liquid as it matures. This is why, while they’re edible, only the young ones should be collected and prepared as soon as possible. Shaggy mane has a mild flavor and can even be used in mushroom soups and risotto.
11. Black Morel
Scientific Name: Morchella elata
The black morel is one of the morel mushrooms that may be found in Arkansas. It thrives on moist, nutrient-dense soil shaded by trees and can even grow on disturbed soil at the edge of a garden. Since it’s a species of morel, it has a honeycomb-like pattern in its cap, and its color gets darker as the mushroom matures.
Black morels contain small amounts of toxins, but applying heat during cooking destroys these toxins. This is precisely why cooking black morels before consuming them is necessary.
12. Violet-toothed Polypore
Scientific Name: Trichaptum biforme
You may encounter another type of mushroom growing in dead or dying hardwood trees, known as the Violet-toothed Polypore. This fungi acts as a saprobe, meaning it decomposes hardwood stumps and logs.
Many people are attracted by the striking color of this species, which ranges from a vibrant orange-brown to a mesmerizing reddish-brown hue, highlighted with violet edges. They aren’t edible, though, and if taken in excessive amounts, they could upset your stomach.