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Mushroom misidentification can lead to serious health risks. Always ensure compliance with local foraging laws, including regulations in national and state parks and other government-managed areas.

12 Types of Mushrooms Found in Iowa

Iowa is a state with incredible natural beauty, from rolling hills and pristine forests to scenic rivers and sparkling lakes, and mushroom foraging is one of the most rewarding and exciting ways to explore this beauty up close. While the state is home to many edible mushroom species, it’s important to remember that not all mushrooms in Iowa are safe to eat.

Common Name Edible Habitat Season
Morel Yes Deciduous forests, near trees Spring
Oyster mushroom Yes Decaying wood, logs, stumps Year-round
Chanterelle Yes Mixed hardwood forests Summer-Fall

12 Mushrooms in Iowa

This article includes a list of some of the most common types of mushrooms found in the state to help you identify them. 

1. Giant puffball

Giant puffball mushroom 
Giant puffball mushroom  | image by Peter O’Connor aka anemoneprojectors via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Calvatia gigantea
  • Average size: 10 to 70 cm 
  • Color: white to cream
  • Can be found: under small stands of trees, and around forest openings 
  • Edible: Yes

The Giant puffball is a huge, white, round fungus that can be found all over the world, including in Iowa. These fungi stand out due to their enormous size and their round, uniform appearance.

Late summer and early fall are prime times to spot giant puffballs, and they can be located in grassy areas, meadows, and woodland clearings.  

The flesh of young, white Giant puffballs is edible and has a mild, earthy taste that works well in various dishes. The fungi develop into a cloud of spores, which they release into the air when disturbed.

2. Sulphur mushrooms

Chicken of the woods
Chicken of the woods | image by pete beard via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Laetiporus sulphureus
  • Average size: 5 to 31 cm in diameter
  • Color: sulfur-yellow
  • Can be found: wounds of trees, mostly oak
  • Edible: Yes, but only the young ones

The brightly colored, shelf-like fungi known as sulphur mushrooms are native to the state of Iowa as well as other areas across the United States. They’re distinguished by their bright orange and yellow hues and the absence of gills, and they typically develop on hardwood trees that have died or are rotting. Not only are sulphur mushrooms beautiful to look at, but they can also be eaten and have a flavor similar to that of chicken. 

3. False Morel

False morel mushroom  
False morel mushroom | image by Michael Mortensen via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Gyromitra esculenta
  • Average size: 3 to 12 cm 
  • Color: light brown, chestnut
  • Can be found: coniferous forest, pine forest, mountainous areas
  • Edible: No

The False morels are toxic fungi found in Iowa that are often mistaken for true morels. These deceptive mushrooms, which have wrinkled, brain-like caps and irregular shapes, are found in mountainous and coniferous forests during the spring. 

Consuming false morels can lead to severe gastrointestinal distress or even death due to the presence of a toxin called gyromitrin. To avoid eating a false morel, it’s important to be careful and knowledgeable about mushroom identification before going foraging.

4. Tippler’s Bane

Tippler’s bane
Tippler’s bane | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Coprinopsis atramentaria
  • Average size: 3 to 7 cm in diameter
  • Color: gray
  • Can be found: buried wood and is found in grassland, meadows, disturbed ground, and open terrain
  • Edible: Yes, with caution
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The common inky cap mushroom, or Tippler’s Bane, can also be found in Iowa and is another edible fungus. The mature form of this fungus is easily identified by its bell-shaped cap, white gills, and black spore prints that turn liquid. 

Clusters of this plant appear in the summer and fall around stumps and other woody debris, and occasionally on buried wood. This mushroom isn’t toxic on its own, but combining it with alcohol brings on some unpleasant effects due to a compound called coprine. 

5. Oyster mushroom

Oyster mushroom
Oyster mushroom | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Pleurotus ostreatus
  • Average size: 5 to 25 cm in diameter
  • Color: white, gray or yellow-gray
  • Can be found: logs and dead standing trees
  • Edible: Yes

The Oyster mushroom is a delicious and widely available American fungus that’s native to the state of Iowa. These mushrooms are distinguished by their fan-shaped, oyster-like caps that range in color from white to grayish-brown, and they grow in shelf-like clusters on decaying hardwood trees, particularly in the spring and fall. Oyster mushrooms can be used in various dishes due to their mild, savory flavor. 

6. Fairy ring champignon 

Fairy ring mushroom
Fairy ring mushroom | image by Dick Culbert via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Marasmius oreades
  • Average size: 3 to 5 cm 
  • Color: buff
  • Can be found: grassy areas, lawns, meadows
  • Edible: Yes

The fairy ring champignon is a tiny but tasty mushroom that can be found in Iowa and other places around the world. The caps of these fungi range in color from buff to light brown, while their gills are white, and their stems are thin and tough. 

Typically growing in grassy areas, they produce circular patterns called “fairy rings” that can last long. Fruiting from late spring to early fall, fairy ring champignons are prized for their delicious “umami” flavor. It’s also important not to confuse it with the poisonous, white Clitocybe that occasionally grows among the fairy rings.

7. Velvet stem

Velvet foot mushrooms cluster
Velvet foot mushrooms cluster | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Flammulina velutipes
  • Average size: 2 to 10 cm in diameter
  • Color: reddish-brown to tawny
  • Can be found: dead stumps and trunks of deciduous trees
  • Edible: Yes

The velvet stem mushroom is a native Iowa delicacy that can be found in the wild from early spring to late fall. These fungi can be identified by the small, brown caps, and are most commonly found growing on dead hardwood trees, especially elm. 

These mushrooms are frequently used in soups and other risotto dishes due to their sweet and nutty taste, which makes them a popular ingredient. 

8. Honey Mushrooms

Honey fungus
Honey fungus | image by Stu’s Images via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Armillaria mellea
  • Average size: 3 to 15 cm in diameter
  • Color: Honey-colored
  • Can be found: bases of trees or stumps, especially oaks, and over buried wood
  • Edible: Yes 

The Honey mushrooms are a type of edible fungus distinguished by their honey-colored convex caps. In Iowa, these mushrooms typically cluster at tree bases or on rotting stumps, and bear fruit in the summer. These species are known for their sweet flavor, but they are also consumed due to their positive effects on one’s health, particularly on the immune system

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9. Morel

Yellow morel
Yellow morel | image by GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

 

  • Scientific Name: Morchella esculenta
  • Average size: 2 to 7 cm in diameter
  • Color: light cream to gray to yellowish-brown
  • Can be found: moist woodlands and in river bottoms
  • Edible: Yes

The morel mushroom, one of the most widely used mushrooms added to foods, is another edible fungus found in the state of Iowa. These mushrooms get attention for their savory, nutty flavor and are distinguished by their distinct honeycomb-like caps with ridges and pits, and hollow stems. 

True morels emerge in spring, typically near dead trees, riverbanks, or disturbed ground. It’s also important for foragers to properly identify morels before eating them because they resemble toxic false morels.

10. Meadow Mushroom 

Meadow mushroom
Meadow mushroom | image by Dr. Hans-Günter Wagner via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Agaricus campestris
  • Average size: 5 to 12 cm in diameter
  • Color: Whitish
  • Can be found: fields, pastures, gardens, and parks
  • Edible: Yes

The Meadow mushrooms are an edible, white-capped fungus found in Iowa. They’re distinguished by their smooth, round caps and grow in grassy areas such as lawns, meadows, and pastures from summer to early autumn. Since their mild, earthy taste is similar to that of the white button mushroom, meadow mushrooms are frequently used in a wide variety of recipes. 

11. King Bolete 

King bolete mushroom 
King bolete mushroom  | Image by Pexels from Pixabay
  • Scientific Name: Boletus edulis
  • Average size: 10 to 30 cm in diameter
  • Color: light red or brown
  • Can be found: beneath trees, notably beech and birch
  • Edible: Yes

The King Boletes are one of the most well-known edible mushrooms in the world, and they’re also found in the state of Iowa. They tend to grow in association with coniferous and deciduous trees from late summer to fall, and you can recognize these fungi by their thick, bulbous stems and large, brown, convex caps.  

12. Black Trumpet

Black trumpet mushrooms
Black trumpet mushrooms | image by Marco Bertolini via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Craterellus cornucopioides
  • Average size: 2 to 15 cm in diameter
  • Color: gray to black to tan
  • Can be found: mossy forest floors
  • Edible: Yes

The black trumpet, also referred to as the black chanterelle, is one of the varieties of chanterelle that can be discovered on the mossy forest floors of Iowa. These fungi thrive in deciduous forests, particularly in the areas around oak and beech trees, and are most commonly seen during the late summer and early fall seasons. 

These mushrooms are easy to recognize due to the trumpet-like shape of their fruiting bodies that are dark in color and hollow inside, with a thin layer of black flesh.