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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.

14 Types of Mushrooms in Michigan (Pictures)

Mushroom foraging has dramatically increased in popularity in the last few years. More and more people are passionate about getting outside and learning about the land they live and work in. Harvesting wild fungi is one way to participate in your local ecosystem, and if you live in Michigan, you are in a prime mushroom-hunting zone. Mushrooms prefer temperate climates with clear seasonal divisions.

Michigan is a great state for mushroom foraging because it has an abundance of forests, regular rainfall, and well-defined seasons. There are over 2,500 wild mushroom species that live in the state, and between 60 and 100 are edible. 

Keep reading this article to learn about edible and toxic mushroom species in Michigan. We’ll talk about their growth habits, the conditions necessary for their flourishing, and, if they’re edible, what you can make with them.  

14 Mushrooms in Michigan 

This list contains both edible and non-edible mushrooms. When foraging is your responsibility to ensure that you properly identify the mushrooms on this list. They are clearly labeled and described with pictures and indicators of whether they are edible. 

If you believe you have ingested a poisonous mushroom, seek immediate medical attention. Some poisonous mushrooms have slow-acting toxins.  

Edible Mushrooms 

The mushrooms in this section are safe for human consumption. Remember that all mushrooms must be cooked before eating, and that it’s your responsibility to properly identify a mushroom. If you’re in doubt, don’t eat it! 

1. Hen-of-the-Woods 

Hen of the woods mushroom
Hen-of-the-woods mushroom | image by Eric Huybrechts via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific name: Grifola frondosa 
  • Average size: 6 to 15.5 inches in diameter
  • Can be found: in oak forests 
  • Edible: Yes

The hen-of-the-woods is a tree-growing mushroom species that shares some traits with its relative, the chicken-of-the-woods. They are two different species, however.

In Michigan, go hunting for hen-of-the-woods in oak and hardwood forests during late summer and fall. They live on dead, dying, and living trees. 

The cap of the hen-of-the-woods ranges from 6 to 15.5 inches across. It’s wavy and multi-layered because the caps are clustered.

The texture is smooth and dusky brown. When cut apart, the flesh is solid and white. 

2. Oyster Mushroom 

Oyster mushroom
Oyster mushroom | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific name: Pleurotus ostreatus
  • Average size: 1 to 6.5 inches in diameter 
  • Can be found: in aspen groves  
  • Edible: Yes

The Oyster mushrooms are highly visible edible mushrooms that grow in the forests of Michigan. In the state, you’re most likely to see them in aspen forests. They have barely any stem and look like a cap is simply growing right out of the tree’s bark. 

The light brown or white cap is 1 to 6.5 inches in diameter and they are relatively smooth to the touch. After harvesting this mushroom, don’t eat the stem. The flesh is white and tastes neutral.

They grow in clusters on living trees. Cooking these mushrooms is a simple task. They make a great side dish, especially as the weather gets colder. 

3. Honey Mushroom 

Honey mushrooms
Honey mushrooms | image by Charles de Mille-Isles via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Armillaria mellea 
  • Average size: 1¼ to 4¾ inches in diameter 
  • Can be found: hardwood forests  
  • Edible: Yes

The honey mushroom is a hardwood-reliant, tan or white mushroom that grows in forests. Michigan is the honey mushroom’s western range limit. It grows most often near the Great Lakes region in prolific clusters shaped almost like floral bouquets.

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The mushroom’s cap measures between 1¼ to 4¾ inches across. The size changes depending on what part of the cluster the individual fruiting body grows in.

They are mild-tasting and have very pronounced fibrous gills on the underside of the caps. Notice a ring around the stem to identify them. 

4. Bear’s Head Tooth Mushroom 

Bear’s head tooth mushroom 
Bear’s head tooth mushroom  | image by John Carl Jacobs (JCJacobs) via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Scientific name: Hericium americanum 
  • Average size: 6 to 7¾ inches long
  • Can be found: on living and dead deciduous trees 
  • Edible: Yes

In Michigan, the bear’s head tooth mushroom can be found in undisturbed forests. It grows directly from dead trees, stumps, and even living trees. While most recorded specimens were discovered on deciduous trees, others have been found on evergreen trees. 

Bear’s head teeth have no circular caps like other mushrooms do. Instead, they grow in a linear pattern similar to a tree branch. Most average between 6 to 7¾ inches long.

On the ‘branch’ are hundreds of tiny frondlike spines. The full effect was similar enough to appear like the jawbone of a bear, which is how the mushroom got its name. 

5. Golden Chanterelle 

Golden chanterelle
Golden chanterelle | image by Dr. Hans-Günter Wagner via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Cantharellus cibarius 
  • Average size: 1 to 4 inches in diameter  
  • Can be found: in forests and near recently burned areas  
  • Edible: Yes

The Golden chanterelle mushrooms are a great starting point if you’re learning to forage. In Michigan, golden chanterelles grow in forests with abundant deciduous trees, such as the upper peninsula and the northern lower peninsula.

The cap of the golden chanterelle is between 1 and 4 inches across. It has wavy edges and the whole mushroom is funnel-shaped.

When foraging for this fungi, you will probably smell it before you see it. Its primary trait is its strong smell. Observers say the mushroom’s aroma is of apricots and citrus. 

6. Dryad’s Saddle

Dryad’s saddle
Dryad’s saddle | image by stanze via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Polyporus squamosus 
  • Average size: 2 to 12 inches across 
  • Can be found: in hardwood forests  
  • Edible: Yes

The dryad’s saddle is a creatively named mushroom that sprouts from the trunks of dead or living trees in early spring. It’s one of the first mushrooms you’ll see when foraging for fungi in Michigan. While looking for morels, it’s a great idea to keep an eye out for the dryad’s saddle too. 

Most of this mushroom consists of a large cap that ranges from 2 inches to up to a foot across! The external texture is scaly and its color is light brown or warm tan. They are pretty thin like a pancake and the flesh is white when cut apart. 

7. Black Morel 

Black morel
Black morel | image by Thomas Woyzbun via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Scientific name: Morchella angusticeps 
  • Average size: 1 to 3 inches tall 
  • Can be found: in forests near dying hardwood trees  
  • Edible: Yes

If you aren’t looking for a golden chanterelle, chances are you’re probably looking for a morel. Morels are great mushrooms to cook with. They add a wild, nutty flavor to dishes, not to mention a little luxury too.

In Michigan, hunt for morels in the spring. They grow in high-moisture environments near dying hardwood trees. 

The caps are taller than they are wide. Most caps measure about 1 to 3 inches tall, but only 2 inches wide.

They are dusky brown and dark inside all of the folding and honeycomb patterning. The stem is chunky for how small the cap is, and sometimes it looks disproportionate. 

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8. Short-stemmed Russula 

Short-stemmed russula 
Short-stemmed russula  | image by Katja Schulz via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Russula brevipes 
  • Average size: 2 ¼ to 7 ¾ inches across  
  • Can be found: under needles in coniferous forests, esp. Douglas Fir 
  • Edible: Yes

The short-stemmed russula is a mushroom of variety. It adapts to different tree types, can grow alone or in groups, and grows from summer into late fall and even winter, if it’s warm. In Michigan, it can be found underneath piles of pine needles. 

The caps measure from 2 ¼ to 7 ¾ inches in diameter. They’re usually tilted in a saddle-like shape. They’re thick and well supported by a robust stem.

While these mushrooms are edible, they need a lot of seasoning because they can sometimes be bitter. Mushroom hunters often let them alone until they transform into lobster mushrooms thanks to infestations of another fungus. 

Non-edible Mushrooms 

These mushrooms cannot be eaten. Some are inert and can’t be eaten, but some are toxic and have the potential to cause hallucinations or even death. Do not eat any of the mushrooms on this part of the list. 

9. Death Angel Mushroom 

  • Scientific name: Amanita bisporigera 
  • Average size: 1 to 4 inches across  
  • Can be found: growing from the ground in mixed forests  
  • Edible: No. TOXIC

The death angel mushroom is aptly named; it’s one of the most deadly mushroom species in the world. Consumption of this mushroom results in poisoning from amatoxins, which attack the liver and kidneys. In Michigan, find this mushroom during the summer and fall in coniferous or deciduous forests. 

Death angels have a cap averaging 1 to 4 inches in diameter. It is smooth and white, as is the rest of the mushroom.

However, there is a baglike volva around the base of the fungus and a small, scarflike ring near the top. They grow in groups and have many closely spaced gills. 

10. Panther Mushroom 

Panther mushroom
Panther mushroom | image by xulescu_g via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Amanita pantherina 
  • Average size: 1 to 7 inches in diameter  
  • Can be found: near conifers and pines  
  • Edible: No. TOXIC

The Panther mushrooms are common throughout the northern United States, including Michigan. Unfortunately, they’re extremely toxic so they should never be harvested or handled. They grow in Michigan’s pine forests because they have a symbiotic relationship with the fungi in the trees’ roots. 

A panther mushroom’s cap feels scaly and measures between 1 and 7 inches across. The small scales fall off when touched. They are somewhat bulbous and form a squat figure against the dirt from where they grow. 

11. False Morel Mushroom 

False morel mushroom  
False morel mushroom | image by Michael Mortensen via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Gyromitra esculenta
  • Average size: 2¼ to 6 in diameter  
  • Can be found: underneath conifers 
  • Edible: No. TOXIC

The False morel mushrooms look similar to true morels so they were named to tell the two species apart. Unfortunately, false morels are poisonous and pose a health risk to humans. In Michigan, you can find false morels in the springtime in pine forests. 

Don’t be scared about telling them apart from true morels. It only takes a little practice. False morels have extremely wrinkled, ‘brainlike’ caps 2¼ to 6 inches across.

Their stems are proportionally very small compared to true morels. Lastly, they are reddish, not cool brown like true morels. 

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12. Eastern Jack O’Lantern 

Eastern Jack O’lantern
Eastern Jack O’lantern | image by Virginia State Parks via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Omphalotus illudens
  • Average size: 2” to 4” in diameter.
  • Can be found: in forests  
  • Edible: No. TOXIC

The eastern Jack O’Lantern’s creative name comes from its bright orange color. This is a sign for all mushroom foragers to stay away: this mushroom is highly toxic. It contains a poisonous compound called illudin, which destroys the human body’s ability to replicate DNA. 

Eastern Jack O’Lanterns grow in highly layered shelf-like aggregates. An individual mushroom’s cap measures between 2 and 4 inches in diameter.

The outer edge is slightly frayed and darker orange. Lastly, the mushroom has another interesting trait: it glows in the dark! 

13. Autumn Skullcap

Autumn skullcap
Autumn skullcap | image by Rocky Houghtby via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Galerina marginata 
  • Average size: ½ to 1 ½ inch in diameter  
  • Can be found: on dying conifers  
  • Edible: No. TOXIC

The autumn skullcap is known by many names, including the funeral bell and the deadly galerina. The names all describe the same mushroom, which is extremely poisonous. In Michigan, it can be found in dense forests, especially ones with a high percentage of conifers. 

The cap is folded inward so that the outer edge is underneath the umbrella of the mushroom. This edge curls outward as the mushroom ages.

Normally, caps range between ½ to 1½ inches across. Be careful when searching for mushrooms similar to the autumn skullcap. Most deaths have been due to cases of mistaken identity. 

14. Death Cap Mushroom 

Death cap mushroom 
Death cap mushroom  | image by Lukas Large via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Amanita phalloides
  • Average size: 2.25” to 6” in diameter 
  • Can be found: Oak forests  
  • Edible: No. TOXIC

The Death caps are extremely toxic mushroom species that grow in Michigan’s oak-dominated forests. They can grow in groups or alone, but they’re almost always around oak trees. If you see one of these mushrooms, leave it alone. 

The mushroom’s white or gray cap is about 2 ¼ to 6 inches across. It drapes down like a small umbrella.

There’s also a growth around the base that looks like a bag; this growth is called a volva. The stem also has a crumpled ring that is level with the outer edge of the umbrella.