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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 Examples of Mushrooms Found in Montana

Adventurers and nature lovers are drawn to Montana’s vast, wild wilderness, where many different mushrooms are waiting to be found. From the black morels to the thimble false morels, mushrooms in Montana surely make the state’s forests colorful. 

This article includes a list of some of Montana’s mushrooms that contribute to the state’s rich mycological landscape, with each species telling a different story with its own tastes, textures, and appearance. 

12 Mushrooms in Montana

1. Black Morels

Black morel
Black morel | image by Thomas Woyzbun via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Morchella elata
  • Average size: 0.5 – 15 cm in diameter
  • Color: black to brownish black
  • Can be found: rich, well-drained soil under trees
  • Edible: Yes

The Black morels are among the most sought-after mushrooms, and are distinguished by their honeycombed caps. These fungi tend to grow near trees that are dying or have recently been burned, as they feed on the nutrients that are released by the decaying wood. 

These morels also do particularly well in areas of Montana that have been recently burned down. They have a cone-shaped cap that’s dark brown to black, and these species have a rich, earthy flavor that’s used in many dishes. 

2. Rainbow chanterelles

Rainbow chanterelles
Rainbow chanterelles | image by Rand Workman (Ranmofod) via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Scientific Name: Cantharellus roseocanus
  • Average size: 2 – 12 cm in diameter
  • Color: white to yellowish
  • Can be found: often under Sitka spruce
  • Edible: Yes

The rainbow chanterelle, also referred to as the golden chanterelle, is a golden variety of the chanterelle mushroom that grows in moist, mixed forests in Montana, typically near coniferous trees.

Foragers find them alluring due to their distinct wavy margins and fruity aroma that resembles apricots. These mushrooms grow in clusters and are typically found in conifer forests during the months of August and September. 

3. Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms
  • Scientific Name: Pleurotus pulmonarius
  • Average size: 5 – 25 cm in diameter
  • Color: grayish-brown
  • Can be found: riparian areas; cottonwoods
  • Edible: Yes

The delicate, fan-shaped caps of oyster mushrooms, a culinary favorite, add a touch of elegance to Montana’s forests. In Montana, they gather in clusters and thrive on decomposing hardwood. 

The caps of these mushrooms can be found in shades ranging from creamy white to gray, and they’re accompanied by gills that run down the short stalk. Oyster mushrooms are a popular choice for various dishes due to their tender texture and mild, seafood-like flavor.

4. Fly agaric

Fly agaric
Fly agaric | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Amanita muscaria
  • Average size: 15 – 20 cm in diameter
  • Color: yellow
  • Can be found: aspen and conifer forests 
  • Edible: No

The fly agaric is a well-known fungus with a bright red cap with white spots. Fly agaric thrives in both coniferous and mixed forests in Montana during the autumn, frequently in symbiotic association with tree roots.

Although this mushroom has a remarkable appearance, it’s not fit for consumption due to the presence of psychoactive and toxic compounds. Eating this fungus can lead to delirium, hyperactivity, and even comatose sleep. 

5. Shaggy Mane

Shaggy mane mushroom
Shaggy mane mushroom | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Coprinus comatus
  • Average size: 3 – 15 cm in diameter
  • Color: whitish
  • Can be found: yards, woodchips, hard-packed dirt and freshly disturbed ground
  • Edible: Yes, with caution

In Montana, the Shaggy Mane mushrooms are an interesting discovery due to the shaggy scales that cover their white cylindrical caps, which is how these fungi got their name. They thrive in soil that’s rich in nutrients and you can often find them growing on old logging roads or along paved roads, near urban hardwood trees, or beneath shrubs in Montana neighborhoods. 

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The fact that these mushrooms transform from a fresh edible to an inky liquid adds to their appeal due to their short-lived nature. Shaggy Manes are a lovely addition to Montana’s fungi landscape and are well known for their mild flavor and distinctive texture.

6. Hedgehog 

Sweet tooth mushroom 
Sweet tooth mushroom  | image by Dr. Hans-Günter Wagner via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Hydnum repandum
  • Average size: 6 – 15 cm in diameter
  • Color: pale cream to creamy orange  
  • Can be found: coniferous, mixed and broad-leaved woodlands  
  • Edible: Yes

Hedgehogs are a type of fungi that got their name from the spines or “teeth” that hang below their caps. They can also be identified by their creamy to orange color and a gently convex cap.

You can find them scattered throughout Montana’s forests from August through October. Hedgehogs are popular with food enthusiasts due to their firm texture and sweet and nutty flavor. 

7. Giant western puffballs

Giant western puffball 
Giant western puffball  | image by Peter Stevens via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Calvatia booniana
  • Average size: 10 – 70 cm in diameter
  • Color: whitish – tan
  • Can be found: open meadows and sagebrush prairies 
  • Edible: Yes

The Giant western puffballs are named for their enormous size, which can reach up to 2 feet in diameter and is an impressive sight in Montana’s diverse landscapes. These fungi range from a softball to a volleyball size and have a smooth, round appearance in shades of creamy white to tan. 

You can find them in open meadows and sagebrush prairies across Montana in late June and July. One large specimen can feed an entire family, and its young, firm interior has a mild, earthy flavor. 

8. Yellow morels

Yellow morel
Yellow morel | image by GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Morchella americana
  • Average size: 1.5 – 6 cm wide
  • Color: yellow to yellow-gray 
  • Can be found: under cottonwood trees along stream- and riverbanks and islands
  • Edible: Yes

In Montana, you can find yellow morels, which are a type of morel with a yellowish-tan honeycombed cap, hence their name. During springtime in the state, it’s common to see them coming out from under cottonwood trees located near streams, riverbanks, and islands. Yellow morels are a gourmet delicacy known for their delicate texture and rich, earthy flavor.  

9. Scaly urchins

Scaly urchins
Scaly urchins | image by Konstantin Gerasimov via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Sarcodon imbricatus
  • Average size: up to 30 cm in diameter
  • Color: light-brownish
  • Can be found: grow in association with firs
  • Edible: Yes 

The Scaly urchins, also known as hawkings, are mushrooms that can be found throughout the state. Their common names come from the distinct, dark brown pattern that resembles scales and is present on their caps. These fungi have a brownish color and live in coniferous forests throughout Montana, forming large rings in late August and September. 

Scaly urchins are an interesting find due to their unique appearance and earthy flavor, though older ones aren’t commonly consumed due to their bitter taste. 

10. Branched bear’s heads

Branched bear’s heads mushroom
Branched bear’s heads mushroom | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Hericium coralloides
  • Average size: up to 40 cm in diameter
  • Color: whitish at first to creamy-yellow
  • Can be found: riparian areas on fallen aspens and cottonwoods
  • Edible: Yes

The state’s white, coral-like branched bear’s head mushrooms appear in late spring on downed aspens and cottonwoods in riparian areas. They got their name because of their distinctive, tooth-like spines that looked like a bear’s fur.

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Branched bear’s heads make a delicious culinary choice because of their soft, tender texture, which resembles crab meat, and when they’re cooked with lemon and dill, the seafood flavor is intensified.

11. King Bolete 

King bolete 
King bolete  | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Boletus edulis
  • Average size: 10 – 30 cm in diameter
  • Color: brownish
  • Can be found: on the ground in conifer forests
  • Edible: Yes

One of the large mushrooms that you can find in Montana is the King Bolete, which is renowned for its enormous size and tasty flavor. These mushrooms can even reach the size of a dinner plate and are easily recognized by their brown, bulbous cap perched atop a thick, pale stalk. 

These species flourish in Montana’s woodlands by establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with the roots of trees. Cut off any infected portions of king boletes before eating them since they’re known to draw worms and insects. 

12. Thimble false morels

Thimble false morels
Thimble false morels | image by GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Ptychoverpa bohemica
  • Average size: up to 15 cm in diameter
  • Color: pale yellow or browny
  • Can be found: scattered on the ground in woods
  • Edible: Yes, but with caution

The Thimble false morels are another type of morel-like species you can find in the state. Their name comes from their thimble-like shape and their similarity to true morels.

These fungi have a wrinkled, brownish cap perched atop a hollow, pale stalk and grow in the same habitat and season as true morels. While some people may find thimble false morels visually attractive, they’re not safe to eat because these species can be toxic.