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As the famous adage goes, ‘you are what you eat.’ And in Missouri, that means you might just be a mushroom lover. With over 2,000 species of fungi found in the state, it’s no wonder that mushroom hunting is a popular pastime for many Missourians.
But with so many different kinds of mushrooms out there, it can be hard to know which ones are safe to eat and which ones are best left alone.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of seven of the most common mushrooms found in Missouri, complete with descriptions and helpful tips on how to identify them.
Whether you’re a seasoned mushroom hunter or just getting started, this guide will help you take your love of fungi to the next level.
- Missouri is home to over 2,000 species of fungi, and mushroom hunting is a popular activity.
- While there are several edible mushrooms found in Missouri, caution should be taken when foraging to avoid consuming poisonous varieties.
- Morel mushrooms are a prized delicacy, while the Oyster and Blewit mushrooms are versatile and tasty options.
- Some mushrooms found in Missouri have psychoactive effects, such as the Big Laughing Gym and Gymnopilus spectabilis, but should be consumed with caution.
1. Morchella esculenta (Morel Mushroom)
If you’re a mushroom hunter in Missouri, you can’t miss the deliciousness of the Morel mushroom! Morchella esculenta, commonly known as the Morel mushroom, is a highly sought-after edible mushroom that grows in the springtime.
The Morel mushroom has a unique texture and flavor profile that is earthy, nutty, and slightly sweet. Its versatility in the kitchen makes it a prized ingredient for chefs and home cooks alike.
When foraging for Morel mushrooms, it’s essential to follow safety precautions. Firstly, make sure you’re familiar with the appearance of the Morel mushroom and can differentiate it from other poisonous mushrooms. Secondly, make sure you’re foraging in a safe and legal area.
National parks and private lands are off-limits, and it’s best to ask for permission from landowners before foraging. Lastly, avoid foraging in areas that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
By following these tips, you can safely and responsibly enjoy the deliciousness of the Morel mushroom.
2. Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster Mushroom)
You may have stumbled upon the delicately frilled and delectably edible Oyster Mushroom during one of your foraging expeditions. Pleurotus ostreatus, commonly known as the Oyster Mushroom, is a popular edible fungus found in Missouri and other parts of the world.
This mushroom is named after its unique shape – it resembles the oyster shell.
Growing techniques for the Oyster Mushroom include cultivating it on a variety of substrates, such as straw, sawdust, and logs. The cultivation process is simple and can be done indoors or outdoors.
Oyster Mushrooms are known for their culinary uses and are used in various dishes, including soups, stir-fries, and sauces.
They have a mild, nutty flavor and a soft, velvety texture. When cooked, they release a delicious aroma that is hard to resist.
Overall, Oyster Mushrooms are easy to grow and a great addition to any mushroom lover’s kitchen!
3. Lactarius indigo (Indigo Milk Cap Mushroom)
Get ready to be amazed by the stunning blue color of the Indigo Milk Cap Mushroom, also known as Lactarius indigo! This mushroom is a sight to behold, with its vibrant blue cap and stem.
It is a common sight in Missouri’s deciduous forests, growing in clusters on the forest floor. While Lactarius indigo is not typically consumed as food, it has been used for its dyeing properties.
The mushroom’s blue milk has been used to dye wool and other natural fibers. However, it’s important to note that Lactarius indigo is not edible and can cause gastrointestinal distress if ingested.
It’s also important to avoid confusing this mushroom with other blue-colored mushrooms, as some can be deadly. Overall, while Lactarius indigo is visually striking, it’s important to exercise caution around this mushroom.
4. Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric Mushroom)
When encountering Amanita muscaria in the forest, it’s important to remember that this iconic red and white mushroom is toxic and should not be consumed.
The toxicity of this mushroom is due to the presence of several psychoactive compounds, including muscimol and ibotenic acid.
These compounds can cause a range of symptoms when ingested, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, and in severe cases, coma and death.
Despite its toxicity, Amanita muscaria has significant cultural significance in many parts of the world. It’s been used in religious ceremonies and as a recreational drug for centuries, particularly in Siberia and other parts of Northern Europe.
The mushroom’s distinctive appearance has also made it a popular symbol in art, literature, and popular culture.
However, it’s important to remember that the potential dangers of this mushroom far outweigh any cultural or aesthetic significance it may hold.
5. Clitocybe nuda (Blewit Mushroom)
If you’re looking for a mushroom that’s as delicious as a slice of warm apple pie, try picking the Clitocybe nuda, also known as the Blewit Mushroom. This mushroom is a beautiful shade of lavender-blue and is often found in deciduous forests during the fall.
Here are some growing tips to keep in mind if you decide to cultivate your own Blewit Mushroom:
- Blewit Mushrooms prefer a moist, well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter.
- They can be grown in a variety of locations, including garden beds or containers.
- It’s best to start growing Blewit Mushrooms indoors and then transplant them outside once they’ve matured.
When it comes to culinary uses, Blewit Mushrooms are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. They have a mild, earthy flavor that pairs well with a range of ingredients.
Here are some ideas for how to use Blewit Mushrooms in your cooking:
- Add them to soups and stews for extra flavor and texture.
- Use them as a substitute for meat in vegetarian dishes.
6. Gymnopilus spectabilis (Big Laughing Gym Mushroom)
Now that you know all about the delicious Blewit Mushroom, let’s explore the fascinating world of the Gymnopilus spectabilis, also known as the Big Laughing Gym Mushroom.
This mushroom is a common sight in Missouri’s woodlands and is known for its striking appearance and psychoactive effects. The
Big Laughing Gym Mushroom has a cap that ranges from 3 to 10 centimeters in diameter and is orange-brown or yellow-brown in color. The stem is thick and sturdy, and its flesh is yellowish.
This mushroom is typically found in clusters on decaying wood, especially on dead logs and stumps. It usually grows from late summer to early winter and prefers to grow in damp areas.
The Big Laughing Gym Mushroom is also known for its psychoactive properties, which can cause hallucinations and feelings of euphoria. However, it’s essential to note that consuming this mushroom can also cause nausea, vomiting, and other adverse effects.
Therefore, it’s crucial to exercise caution when consuming mushrooms with psychoactive properties.
When it comes to the Gymnopilus spectabilis, understanding its habitat and growing conditions is essential to identify and consume it safely.
This mushroom thrives in moist environments and can be found growing on decaying wood. It prefers to grow in deciduous forests, but it can also be found in coniferous forests.
It’s essential to note that consuming this mushroom can be dangerous, especially if you’re not familiar with its properties. Therefore, it’s essential to exercise caution and avoid consuming mushrooms that you’re not 100% sure about.
7. Amanita phalloides (Death Cap Mushroom)
You need to be aware of the dangers of consuming the Amanita phalloides, also known as the Death Cap Mushroom, as it can cause severe liver damage and even death.
Here are some identification tips to help you avoid this deadly mushroom:
- The cap of the Death Cap Mushroom is usually green or yellow, but can also be white or brown.
- The gills are white and run down the stem.
- The stem is white and has a sac-like structure at the base.
- The mushroom has a distinctive ring around the stem.
It’s important to note that there are several poisonous lookalikes to the Death Cap Mushroom, including the Destroying Angel and the Deadly Galerina. Therefore, it’s crucial to correctly identify the mushroom before consuming it.
If you’re not sure about the identification of a mushroom, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming it. Remember, the consequences of consuming a poisonous mushroom can be severe and even fatal.