What Types of Mushrooms Grow in Texas?
Texas mushroom hunters discover hundreds of mold and fungi in the state’s desert, forest and semi-arid areas. Wild mushrooms grow year round. Some are edible, others are deadly. There’s no substitute for an expert guide, especially if you’re thinking about eating Texas’ wild mushrooms. (See Reference 1, Pg. 1, 2)
Resembling a small ball, the earthball is one of Texas’ puffball mushrooms. They are stalk-free, meaning they hold themselves to the ground with their roots. You can find these brown mushrooms growing on wood as well as on the ground. Earthball mushrooms have irregular, darker-toned patches. Their interiors resemble dark dirt.
The body of brain fungi looks like a cup. You can’t miss it because its outer texture resembles a brain. This mushroom produces spores within its folds. You will find them growing on wood as well as on the ground.
Stinkhorns look like tiny horns—or they are phallic-shaped. Insects enjoy their dark and slimy exterior layer. Stickhorns smell terrible. Chances are that you will smell one before you see it. Yet in some parts of the world, stinkhorn mushrooms are considered a delicacy.
Like the puffball mushroom, polypores don’t have a stalk. They grow on wood in a cluster of wavy-edged, round caps.
As its name suggests, the devil's cigar looks like a dark-brown cigar. When the mushroom matures and opens, its shape resembles a star. Because it looks a lot like the star that appears on Texas' flag, the Texas Legislature recognizes the devil’s cigar mushroom as its official state fungus.
Grow And Care For Mushrooms
Growing edible mushrooms is a different type of gardening, but it is entirely possible to do once you understand the process. Like any plant, mushroom species have a natural climatic and geographic habitat. A large handful of mushroom species are delicious for consumption, while a much larger percentage are either bland to the taste, or bitter or slightly allergenic. Although they get a considerable amount of attention, there are relatively few highly poisonous species among the many hundreds found around the world. Still, people collecting mushrooms in the wild are well advised not to consume any mushroom they have not definitively identified, as some poisonous forms look very similar to edible ones. All these types can be purchased as part of growing kits at online retailers. The small white-capped mushrooms most commonly sold in grocery stores are the immature form of mushrooms that, if allowed to grow larger, would be called portabellas. Native to East Asia, shitake mushrooms are consumed all over the world and are considered medicinal in some forms of traditional medicine. Native to North America, Europe, and Asia, the Lion's mane has long spines and in the wild tends to appear on hardwood trees (especially beech trees) in late summer and fall. Read carefully before ordering to understand what's included. You may also want to consult specific information on the particular mushroom you are growing. Use approximately 1 or 2 cups of mushroom flakes for each 2 x 3-foot tray. The next day, press the mixture into the trays using a piece of wood or some heavy bricks. Apply peat moss to the top of the compost mixture when the mycelial webbing begins to form. Moisten the peat moss until it holds together easily when you squeeze it in your hand. Spray the newspapers twice a day to maintain the moisture level. Small white pinheads should be apparent within several days after removing the newspaper. Your mushrooms will grow faster if you increase the temperature in the room to around 65 or 70 degrees F, but you may end up with too many at once, so it's usually better to keep the temperature between 50 and 55 degrees so that the mushrooms grow more slowly. Your compost and peat moss mixture will continue to produce mushrooms approximately every two weeks for between three and six months.
- “Texas mushrooms: A Field Guide”; Susan Metzler, Van Metzler; 1991
- Louisiana State University: Devil’s Cigar: The Texas State Fungus
- Cornell University: Growing Button Mushrooms