Helpful tips for mushroom hunting in West Michigan

MGN / Johannes Harnisch / CC BY-SA 3.0

Morel hunting is a pastime for many in West Michigan. Stumbling “sweet spot” can result in finding hundreds of mushrooms that make the dinner menu in days and weeks to follow.

Sure, finding the fungus can be tricky, but there are tips to making the search a little easier. The DNR provides a map for potential morel hot beds. Morel mushrooms like to grow in forested areas, most likely in burned areas where pine trees grew.

Locally, there a few areas that mushroom hunters can find morels. Prescribed burns happened near the Yankee Springs State Recreation Area in Barry County. Closer to Kalamazoo, in the Fort Custer Recreation Area there were a handful of prescribed burns that may help the mushrooms to flourish. The burned areas on the DNR map are locations that experienced fires larger than 10 acres that happened in 2016.

When searching for true morel mushrooms, be sure to look out for false morels. The false morels are poisonous to humans. A few key tips for deciphering what is safe and what is not. A true morel will be hollow on the inside, the cap of the mushroom is usually longer than the stem. Also, a true morel will have spores that are pitted inward. On a false morel, the inside will be filled with white, fiber like tissues and it will bulge outwards.

In Michigan, there are over 50 different types of poisonous mushrooms. Michigan State University Extension has an in-depth look at how to spot all the different types of potentially dangerous mushrooms. If you have doubt on if the mushroom is safe or not, the best rule of thumb is when in doubt, throw it out.

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