Geologic and atmospheric conditions in Michigan are nearly perfect for wild mushrooms to grow and thrive. From early spring through fall there are many wild, edible mushroom varieties available for collecting in the wild and semi-wild areas in the state. Before consuming any wild mushroom, be absolutely sure you have correctly identified it as edible and non-poisonous; many poisonous mushrooms are very similar in appearance to non-poisonous ones. Every mushroom should be identified by a combination of its shape, size, color and the color of its spores. Have an experienced mushroom hunter confirm its identity or take a spore print. To make a spore print, set a mushroom on a plain white piece of typing paper. You can lay it on its side, stand it upright or even suspend it over the paper with string. In approximately two to 24 hours, the spores will fall from the bottom of the mushroom's cap and land on the paper. They can then be positively identified.
Morels are one of the easiest wild mushrooms to correctly identify and, consequently, is one of the most-hunted wild mushrooms. The season begins with black morels and progresses through gray and then yellow. Morels are hollow with a pointed, wrinkled cap. Even the smallest morel adds a big punch of mushroom flavor to any cooked dish, but morels should not be eaten raw. They grow wild in woodlands near dead and dying hardwood trees, such as maple, birch and elm. The morel season begins in early spring in the mid-south and lasts through early summer in the far north. Morels do not grow wild in areas where winters are predominantly frost-free. Attempts to cultivate morels have met with little, if any, success.
The chanterelle is another wild mushroom that has eluded attempts to bring into cultivation. It is one of the most delicious mushrooms and is perhaps the second most sought-after wild mushroom behind morels. Chanterelles are a pastel orange color, similar to orange sherbet, with a trumpet-shaped cap. Chanterelles can be found growing in temperate woodlands in late summer and early fall.
Honey or "Stumpers"
Honey mushrooms are known locally in Michigan as "stumpers" or "stumpies." They are major parasites of rotting trees and tree stumps, where clusters of them are found growing in the northern hemisphere world-wide. It is so-named "honey" because the color of its cap takes on the various shades that honey takes, from honey yellow to a pinkish brown to brown. Their round caps flatten out at maturity. They are very strongly flavored and well-sought-out by mushroom enthusiasts. Honey mushrooms are toxic when raw and must be cooked thoroughly before eating. There are several poisonous mushroom varieties with similar appearance and therefore honey mushrooms should be identified using a spore print. Honey mushrooms have white spores, while their poisonous look-alikes have brown or rust-colored spores.