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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.

24 Mushrooms in Wisconsin (Edible & Toxic)

Wisconsin, a state known for its diverse landscape, is home to an abundance of plant and animal life. From lush forests to sprawling wetlands and picturesque prairies, this beautiful state offers a rich and varied environment for nature lovers. Among the many natural wonders found in Wisconsin are its fascinating mushrooms. With a thriving mycological community and ideal conditions for fungal growth, Wisconsin is the perfect place to explore the diverse world of mushrooms.

In this article, we will introduce you to some of the most common mushrooms found in Wisconsin, along with interesting facts and foraging tips to enhance your mushroom-hunting experience.

Categories of fungi with mushrooms

The primary categories of fungi that produce mushrooms are Basidiomycota and Ascomycota. These two groups contain the vast majority of mushroom-forming species. While other fungal categories exist, they typically do not produce the fruiting bodies we commonly refer to as mushrooms.

Basidiomycota (club fungi)

Button mushroom
Button mushroom | image by Radu Chibzii via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Basidiomycota is the most common category for mushrooms and includes many familiar species. They reproduce by producing spores on club-shaped structures called basidia.

Examples include button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), shiitake (Lentinula edodes), oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), and chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius).

Ascomycota (sac fungi)

Morchella spp.
Morchella spp. | image by Heinz Bunse via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Ascomycota is another category containing mushrooms. These fungi reproduce by producing spores inside sac-like structures called asci. Examples of mushrooms in this group include morels (Morchella spp.), truffles (Tuber spp.), and the edible cup fungus (Peziza spp.).

24 Mushrooms in Wisconsin

1. White button mushroom

White button mushroom
White button mushroom | image by Mike Licht via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Agaricus bisporus
  • Average size: 1 to 3 inches in diameter
  • Color: White to light brown, with smooth or slightly scaly cap
  • Can be found: Grassy areas, lawns, and gardens
  • Edible: Yes

The white button mushroom is a popular and widely cultivated species, commonly found in grocery stores. In Wisconsin, these mushrooms can be found growing in grassy areas, such as lawns and gardens.

They have a white to light brown cap that is smooth or slightly scaly and can grow to be 1 to 3 inches in diameter. The white button mushroom is not only edible but also delicious and versatile in various dishes.  

2. Morel mushroom

Morel mushroom
Morel mushroom | image by Peter Stevens via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Morchella spp.
  • Average size: 2 to 4 inches in height
  • Color: Yellow to dark brown, with a honeycomb-like cap
  • Can be found: Deciduous forests, near dead or dying trees
  • Edible: Yes

The Morel mushrooms are highly sought-after for their delicious taste and unique appearance. These mushrooms feature a honeycomb-like cap and can be found in various shades of yellow to dark brown.

Morels are commonly found in deciduous forests, particularly near dead or dying trees. They are a prized edible mushroom, and you can enjoy them in dishes like Morel Mushroom Sauté.

3. Oyster mushroom

Oyster mushroom
Oyster mushroom | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific name: Pleurotus ostreatus
  • Average size: 2 to 8 inches in diameter
  • Color: White to gray or light brown
  • Can be found: On dead or decaying hardwood trees
  • Edible: Yes

The Oyster mushrooms are fan-shaped fungi that grow on dead or decaying hardwood trees, often found in clusters on logs or stumps. They can be white, gray, or light brown and have a soft, velvety texture with gills running down the stem. Oyster mushrooms are edible and known for their delicate, slightly sweet flavor and tender, chewy texture.

They are highly versatile in culinary applications, being used in a variety of dishes such as stir-fries, soups, and pasta. In addition to their pleasant taste, oyster mushrooms are also prized for their nutritional content, containing significant amounts of vitamins and minerals, as well as being a good source of protein and dietary fiber.

4. 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 24 inches in diameter
  • Color: Grayish-brown to dark brown
  • Can be found: At the base of oak trees
  • Edible: Yes

The Hen of the woods, also known as maitake or ram’s head, is a large, clustered mushroom with a fan-like shape. This mushroom can be found at the base of oak trees, particularly in the fall.

Hen of the woods is an edible mushroom with a rich, earthy flavor. Try this Roasted Maitake Mushroom recipe to enjoy its unique taste.

5. Turkey tail mushroom

Turkey tail mushroom
Turkey tail mushroom | image by stanze via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Trametes versicolor
  • Average size: 1 to 4 inches wide
  • Color: Various shades of brown, gray, and blue, often forming a concentric pattern
  • Can be found: On dead or decaying hardwood logs and stumps
  • Edible: No, but used in traditional medicine and as a tea

The Turkey tail is a striking, colorful mushroom commonly found on dead or decaying hardwood logs and stumps. Although not edible, turkey tail is used in traditional medicine for its potential immune-boosting properties and can be made into a tea.

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6. Chanterelle mushroom

Chanterelle mushroom
Chanterelle mushroom | image by GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Cantharellus cibarius
  • Average size: 1 to 6 inches in diameter
  • Color: Golden yellow to orange
  • Can be found: Deciduous and coniferous forests, often near oak, birch, or pine trees
  • Edible: Yes

The Chanterelle mushrooms are funnel-shaped with a golden yellow to orange color. They are commonly found in deciduous and coniferous forests, often near oak, birch, or pine trees. Chanterelles are prized for their delicious, slightly peppery flavor and are a popular edible mushroom.

7. Puffball mushroom

Puffball mushroom
Puffball mushroom | image by Vik Nanda via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Lycoperdon spp. and Calvatia spp.
  • Average size: 1 to 20 inches in diameter, depending on species
  • Color: White to tan or light brown
  • Can be found: Grassy areas, meadows, and forests
  • Edible: Yes, when young and white inside

The Puffball mushrooms are round or oval fungi that can be found in grassy areas, meadows, and forests. They can range in size from 1 to 20 inches in diameter, depending on the species. Puffballs are typically white to tan or light brown in color.

They are edible when young and have a firm, white interior. As they mature, the interior becomes yellowish or brown and is no longer safe to eat. You can enjoy puffball mushrooms in dishes like this Puffball Mushroom Fritters recipe.

8. Artist’s conk

Artist’s conk mushroom
Artist’s conk mushroom | image by Funky Fungi via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Ganoderma applanatum
  • Average size: 2 to 24 inches in width
  • Color: White to light brown on the underside, dark brown on top
  • Can be found: On dead or dying hardwood trees
  • Edible: No, but used in traditional medicine

The Artist’s conk is a large, shelf-like mushroom that grows on dead or dying hardwood trees. The underside of the mushroom is white to light brown, while the top is dark brown. Though not edible, artist’s conk has been used in traditional medicine for its potential health benefits.

9. Shaggy mane mushroom

Shaggy mane mushroom
Shaggy mane mushroom | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific name: Coprinus comatus
  • Average size: 2 to 6 inches in height
  • Color: White with brownish or grayish scales
  • Can be found: Grassy areas, lawns, and roadsides
  • Edible: Yes, when young

The Shaggy mane mushrooms are cylindrical, with a white cap covered in brownish or grayish scales. They can be found in grassy areas, lawns, and roadsides.

Shaggy mane mushrooms are edible when young, before the gills start turning black and liquefying. Try this Shaggy Manes and Ink recipe for a unique and flavorful dish.

10. Chicken of the woods

Chicken of the woods
Chicken of the woods | image by pete beard via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Laetiporus sulphureus
  • Average size: 2 to 20 inches across
  • Color: Orange to bright yellow
  • Can be found: On hardwood trees, particularly oak
  • Edible: Yes

The Chicken of the woods is a brightly colored, shelf-like mushroom that grows on hardwood trees, especially oak. It has an orange to bright yellow hue and a soft, slightly fibrous texture. Chicken of the woods is an edible mushroom with a taste and texture reminiscent of chicken. 

11. Lion’s mane  

Lion’s mane mushroom
Lion’s mane mushroom | image by gailhampshire via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Hericium erinaceus
  • Average size: 4 to 10 inches in diameter
  • Color: White, sometimes yellowish
  • Can be found: On hardwood trees, particularly beech and oak
  • Edible: Yes

The Lion’s mane is a unique, toothed fungus with cascading, icicle-like spines that grows on hardwood trees, particularly beech and oak. It has a white, sometimes yellowish color and a soft, slightly fibrous texture. Lion’s mane is an edible mushroom with a taste and texture reminiscent of crab or lobster.  

12. Lobster mushroom  

Lobster mushroom  
Lobster mushroom   | image by Under the same moon… via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Hypomyces lactifluorum
  • Average size: 3 to 6 inches in diameter
  • Color: Orange to reddish-orange
  • Can be found: On the ground in mixed woods, parasitizing other mushrooms
  • Edible: Yes

The Lobster mushrooms are named for their unique appearance and coloration, which resembles the shell of a cooked lobster. They are actually a parasitic fungus that infects other mushrooms, transforming them into a firm, dense, and brightly colored mass. Lobster mushrooms are edible and have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Try this Lobster Mushroom Recipe for a flavorful dish.

13. Reishi mushroom  

Reishi mushroom 
Reishi mushroom  | image by gailhampshire via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Ganoderma lucidum
  • Average size: 2 to 12 inches in diameter
  • Color: Reddish-brown to dark brown
  • Can be found: On hardwood stumps and logs
  • Edible: Yes

The Reishi mushrooms are large, shelf-like fungi with a glossy, reddish-brown to dark brown color. They grow on hardwood stumps and logs, primarily oak. Though not edible, reishi mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for their potential health benefits and are often consumed as a tea or extract.

14. Scarlet elf cup  

Scarlet elf cup  
Scarlet elf cup   | image by James St. John via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Sarcoscypha coccinea
  • Average size: 1 to 3 inches in diameter
  • Color: Scarlet to orange-red
  • Can be found: On decaying branches and twigs
  • Edible: Yes, but not highly regarded
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The Scarlet elf cups are small, bowl-shaped mushrooms with a vibrant scarlet to orange-red color. They grow on decaying branches and twigs in damp, wooded areas. Although edible, scarlet elf cups are not highly regarded for their flavor and are primarily used for their visual appeal in culinary presentations.

15. 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: 4 to 20 inches in diameter
  • Color: Yellowish-brown with dark brown scales
  • Can be found: On decaying hardwood trees and logs
  • Edible: Yes

The Dryad’s saddle is a large, fan-shaped mushroom with a yellowish-brown color and dark brown scales on its cap. It grows on decaying hardwood trees and logs, often in overlapping clusters. Dryad’s saddle is edible, with a mild, nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture. It is best when harvested young and tender.

16. Blewit mushroom 

Blewit mushroom  
Blewit mushroom   | image by Katja Schulz via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Clitocybe nuda
  • Average size: 2 to 6 inches in diameter
  • Color: Violet to lavender-blue
  • Can be found: In deciduous forests, grasslands, and gardens
  • Edible: Yes

The Blewit mushrooms are known for their striking violet to lavender-blue color and their slightly funnel-shaped caps. They can be found in deciduous forests, grasslands, and gardens, often growing in clusters.

Blewits are edible and have a mild, earthy flavor. Cook them thoroughly before consuming, as some individuals may experience gastrointestinal distress when eating them raw.

17. Fly agaric

Fly agaric
Fly agaric | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr
  • Scientific name: Amanita muscaria
  • Average size: 4 to 12 inches in diameter
  • Color: Red or orange with white spots
  • Can be found: In coniferous and deciduous forests
  • Edible: No, toxic and hallucinogenic

Amanita muscaria, also known as the fly agaric, is a highly recognizable mushroom with a red or orange cap adorned with white spots. It can be found in coniferous and deciduous forests, typically growing in a symbiotic relationship with tree roots. Amanita muscaria is toxic and hallucinogenic, and consumption can lead to severe illness or death.

18. False morel  

False morel mushroom  
False morel mushroom | image by Michael Mortensen via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Gyromitra spp.
  • Average size: 2 to 8 inches in diameter
  • Color: Reddish-brown to dark brown
  • Can be found: In hardwood forests, especially near dead or decaying wood
  • Edible: No, toxic

The False morels resemble true morels but have wrinkled, brain-like caps and a reddish-brown to dark brown color. They are often found in hardwood forests, especially near dead or decaying wood.

False morels contain a toxic compound called gyromitrin, which can cause severe illness or even death if ingested. Always exercise caution and properly identify mushrooms before consuming them.

19. Stinkhorn mushroom  

Stinkhorn mushroom  
Stinkhorn mushroom   | image by m.shattock via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Phallus spp.
  • Average size: 4 to 12 inches tall
  • Color: White, orange, or pink
  • Can be found: In gardens, woodlands, and mulch
  • Edible: Yes, at the egg stage

The Stinkhorn mushrooms are easily recognized by their phallic shape and foul-smelling odor. They come in a variety of colors, including white, orange, and pink, and can be found in gardens, woodlands, and mulch. While not toxic, stinkhorns are considered inedible due to their strong, unpleasant smell.

20. Violet cort  

Violet cort mushroom  
Violet cort mushroom   | image by Albert Aguilera via Flickr
  • Scientific name: Cortinarius violaceus
  • Average size: 3 to 6 inches in diameter
  • Color: Dark violet
  • Can be found: In coniferous and deciduous forests
  • Edible: No, potentially toxic (though some mushroom books may describe as edible)

The violet cort is a striking mushroom with a dark violet color and a cap that ranges from convex to flat. It can be found in coniferous and deciduous forests, often near mossy areas. Although not confirmed as toxic, violet corts are considered inedible by most experts due to their bitter taste and potential toxicity.

21. Jack-o’-lantern mushroom  

Jack o’ lantern mushroom 
Jack o’ lantern mushroom  | image by Forest Wander via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Omphalotus olearius
  • Average size: 2 to 8 inches in diameter
  • Color: Orange to yellow-orange
  • Can be found: On decaying hardwood stumps and logs
  • Edible: No, toxic

The Jack-o’-lantern mushrooms are characterized by their vibrant orange to yellow-orange color and gill-like structures that emit a faint greenish glow in the dark. They grow on decaying hardwood stumps and logs, often in clusters. Jack-o’-lantern mushrooms are toxic and can cause severe gastrointestinal distress if ingested.

22. Destroying angel  

Destroying angel   mushroom 
Destroying angel   mushroom  | image by Mark Nenadov via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Amanita bisporigera
  • Average size: 4 to 6 inches in diameter
  • Color: White
  • Can be found: In woodlands, particularly near oak trees
  • Edible: No, highly toxic

The Destroying angels are deadly mushrooms with a pure white color and a smooth, egg-shaped cap that becomes flat as it matures. They are often found in woodlands, particularly near oak trees. Destroying angels contain amatoxins, which are highly toxic and can lead to liver and kidney failure, and ultimately death, if consumed.

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23. Death cap  

Death cap mushroom 
Death cap mushroom  | image by Lukas Large via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Amanita phalloides
  • Average size: 2 to 6 inches in diameter
  • Color: Olive green to yellowish-green
  • Can be found: In mixed woodlands, often near oak trees
  • Edible: No, highly toxic

The Death caps are among the most poisonous mushrooms, with a smooth, olive green to yellowish-green cap and white gills. They can be found in mixed woodlands, often growing in close association with oak trees.

Death caps contain potent toxins called amatoxins, which can cause severe liver and kidney damage, and ultimately death, if ingested.

24. Deadly galerina

Deadly galerina mushroom
Deadly galerina mushroom | image by jacinta lluch valero via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Galerina marginata
  • Average size: 1 to 3 inches in diameter
  • Color: Brown to reddish-brown
  • Can be found: On decaying wood in forests
  • Edible: No, highly toxic

Galerina marginata, also known as the deadly galerina, is a small, brown to reddish-brown mushroom that grows on decaying wood in forests. It is a highly toxic mushroom that contains amatoxins, the same toxins found in the death cap and destroying angel mushrooms. Ingestion of Galerina marginata can lead to severe liver and kidney damage and potentially death.

Why are mushrooms so popular in Wisconsin?

Mushrooms have become increasingly popular in Wisconsin for a variety of reasons:

  • Ecological diversity: Wisconsin’s diverse landscape provides a variety of habitats for different mushroom species to thrive.
  • Foraging culture: The state has a strong tradition of foraging for wild edibles, including mushrooms, which has grown in popularity in recent years.
  • Culinary interest: With the growing interest in farm-to-table dining and locally sourced ingredients, mushrooms are gaining attention as a delicious and sustainable food source.
  • Medicinal uses: Many of the mushrooms found in Wisconsin are known for their potential health benefits and are used in traditional medicine and supplements.

Mushroom foraging tips in Wisconsin

Foraging for mushrooms in Wisconsin can be a fun and rewarding activity. Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Learn to identify mushrooms

Familiarize yourself with the common edible and poisonous mushrooms found in Wisconsin. Invest in a good field guide or attend a local mushroom identification workshop.

2. Obtain permission

Always ask for permission before foraging on private property. Many public lands, such as state parks and forests, also have rules and regulations regarding foraging, so be sure to check before you begin.

3. Choose the right time and location

Some mushrooms are seasonal, while others can be found year-round. Research the best times and locations for finding the specific mushrooms you are interested in.

4. Practice sustainable foraging

When collecting mushrooms, be mindful of the environment and practice sustainable foraging techniques. Only harvest a small portion of the mushrooms you find, leaving some behind for wildlife and future foragers.

5. Stay safe

When foraging, always stay on established trails and be aware of your surroundings. Bring a buddy, carry a whistle, and let someone know your plans before heading out.

Where to find mushrooms in Wisconsin?

Mushrooms can be found throughout Wisconsin, but certain areas are particularly conducive to fungal growth.

Some of the best places to find mushrooms in Wisconsin include:

  • Deciduous forests: Many mushrooms prefer the moist, shaded environment provided by deciduous forests, often growing near specific tree species.
  • Wetlands and riverbanks: The damp soil and abundant plant life in wetlands and along riverbanks create ideal conditions for certain mushroom species.
  • Grassy areas and meadows: Open grassy areas, such as lawns, meadows, and pastures, can be home to a variety of mushrooms, including puffballs and white button mushrooms.
  • Coniferous forests: Coniferous forests provide a unique habitat for mushrooms that prefer acidic soil and grow near pine, spruce, or fir trees.
  • Dead or decaying wood: Many mushrooms, like oyster mushrooms and turkey tail, thrive on dead or decaying wood, so check logs, stumps, and fallen branches.

State parks and nature reserves: Wisconsin’s state parks and nature reserves offer diverse ecosystems that support various types of mushrooms. Remember to check the park’s regulations on foraging before you start.

When searching for mushrooms in Wisconsin, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the different habitats preferred by the species you’re looking for. With a little patience and persistence, you’ll be well on your way to discovering the fascinating world of fungi in Wisconsin. Happy foraging!