Mushroom Hunting

The warming weather of April and May causes some people to venture outdoors on mushroom seeking missions. Morel hunting is especially popular at this time of year. The short morel season usually lasts about 4-5 weeks. Questions often arise about the identity and edibility of mushrooms that are found. Pm-1204 Morels, false morels, and other cup fungi is an excellent reference that includes color photos of many of the common mushrooms that are found at this time of year. NCR 129 Mushrooms and other related fungi is another useful reference.

As stated in these references, anyone gathering and eating mushrooms should exercise caution.

  1. Be absolutely sure of the identity of each specimen collected. Some mushroom species are poisonous.
  2. Don't eat excessive amounts even though you are sure of the identity. Certain individuals might become sick (possibly an allergic reaction) after eating a mushroom that is considered edible.

Mushrooms can also spoil very easily, especially if collected in plastic bags and left unrefrigerated. It is best to wrap each mushroom in dry paper toweling or in paper sacks and refrigerate the samples if they are to be kept overnight.

The references mentioned above can be obtained from your local Extension office or from the Extension Distribution Center, 119 Printing and Publications Building, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011-3171, Telephone: (515) 294-5247, Fax: (515) 294-2945.

This article originally appeared in the May 7, 1999 issue, p. 52.

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