Also known as the Volunteer State, Tennessee features stunning natural beauty and a diverse ecosystem, which makes it an ideal location to forage for mushrooms. This state is home to a wide variety of both edible and potentially poisonous mushrooms. Because of this, it is essential to always use caution when foraging for mushrooms in Tennessee. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common fungi you can find in this state.
6 Edible Mushrooms In Tennessee
Tennessee is no stranger to edible mushrooms, and this state offers an array of mushrooms that you can safely consume. However, it is important to only ingest mushrooms that you are certain are safe to consume. If you’re not sure whether a mushroom is edible, it’s best to err on the side of caution and just assume it’s poisonous.
- Scientific Name: Morchella spp.
- Average Size: 1 to 4 inches tall
- Found: At the edge of wooded areas, especially near oak, ash, aspen, and elm trees
Morel mushrooms are one of the most sought-after wild mushrooms, thanks to its earthy, nutty flavor. These mushrooms have a conical-shaped cap that is covered in a honeycomb-like pattern.
They can be light to dark brown and the cap can measure from 2 to 4 inches in diameter. They typically grow in wooded areas near deciduous trees and are typically spotted in the spring after a warm rain.
- Scientific Name: Grifola frondosa
- Average Size: 4 to 24 inches wide and 3 to 16 inches tall
- Found: Mainly found at the base of oak trees, but can also appear under elms and maples
Hen-of-the-woods produce large clusters of fan-shaped caps that overlap one another. They are grayish brown with a white underside and a central stem that is rather thick. These edible mushrooms can reach considerable sizes, and a cluster of them can weigh several pounds.
3. Oyster Mushrooms
- Scientific Name: Pleurotus ostreatus
- Average Size: 2 to 10 inches in diameter
- Found: Growing on hardwood trees
Oyster mushrooms have fan-shaped caps that are broad and typically range from white to a pale gray color. Their gills, which are spaced closely together, grow down their stems. You can find oyster mushrooms growing on dead or dying hardwood trees, typically in groups or clusters during spring and fall.
4. Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
- Scientific Name: Hericium erinaceus
- Average Size: Between 4 and 10 inches in diameter
- Found: On dead stumps and logs
This unique and hard-to-miss mushroom has long, cascading spines that are cream or white-colored. These spines resemble the mane of a lion, thus its name. They don’t produce the traditional cap or stem that most people associate with mushrooms. In Tennessee, the best time to look for them is during late summer and fall.
5. Chanterelle Mushroom
- Scientific Name: Cantharellus cibarius
- Average Size: 2 to 5 inches in diameter
- Found: Coniferous and hardwood forests
These funnel-shaped mushrooms have a golden yellow or orange color and feature ridges on the underside of the caps. Their stems are solid and typically match the color of the caps.
They can be found in coniferous and hardwood forests, oftentimes hidden underneath leaf litter. In Tennessee, the chanterelle mushrooms are most abundant during late summer and fall.
6. Pear-Shaped Puffballs
- Scientific Name: Lycoperdon pyriforme
- Average Size: Up to 2 inches in diameter and 1 to 2 inches tall
- Found: On rotting logs
The pear-shaped puffball is a small mushroom that is cream-colored and has a miniature pear-shaped puffball-like cap. It has a smooth surface that will start to wrinkle slightly as it matures.
This mushroom is edible if picked while still young. Once it matures, the inside of the puffball, which is white when young, will turn yellow. At this stage, the puffball shouldn’t be consumed as it can cause gastrointestinal distress.
2 Poisonous Mushrooms In Tennessee
While Tennessee is home to various edible mushrooms, it also has poisonous fungi that can cause a wide array of symptoms. These symptoms can be as mild as an upset stomach to something much more serious and life-threatening, such as organ failure.
That is why it is vital to exercise caution when foraging for wild mushrooms and only consume ones that you are knowledgeable and experienced in.
Additionally, if you suspect you may have consumed poisonous mushrooms, immediately seek medical attention and do not wait until symptoms appear.
1. Amanita Mushrooms
- Scientific Name: Amanita spp.
- Average Size: 1 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter, depending on the exact species
- Found: Grows on the soil near trees
Amanita is a large genus of about 600 different fungi, and some of the most toxic mushrooms are a member of this genus. While the exact physical description will vary from one species to the next, most Amanita mushrooms have an umbrella-like cap, usually white with colored markings, and may even have a rink or skirt-like structure around its stem. They can also be found in various environments, including in grassy areas and forests.
One such poisonous mushroom in this genus is the Destroying Angel mushroom (Amanita bisporigera). This mushroom is white and has a prominent, sac-like volva at the base of its stem.
Its cap is typically cone-shaped and smooth. This mushroom is one of the most deadly fungi found in Tennessee. It is extremely dangerous and should never be consumed.
2. Galerina Mushrooms
- Scientific Name: Galerina spp.
- Average Size: Less than 3 inches in diameter
- Found: In woodlands and on decaying stumps and trees
About 300 species of mushrooms are a part of the Galerina genius, most of them being listed as toxic and not edible. They are typically small, with a brown or rust-colored cap.
One thing that makes these mushrooms so dangerous is that they often resemble some safe, edible mushrooms, such as the honey mushroom (Armillaria mellea), and can even be confused with hallucinogenic mushrooms in the Psilocybe species.