Newbie Mushroom Foraging

burekcrew86 Posts: 248 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Mycology

I would love to try mushroom foraging next year and would appreciate any insight and tips from veterans of this skill. What is a good resource guide? What is the best time of year to start foraging? Is it necessary to go with an experienced guide?


  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @burekcrew86 I recommend that you forage with an experienced guide. My mother-in-law did some learning with others and went foraging. She ended up in the hospital for a couple of days -- luckily the mushroom mistake she had eaten was only mildly toxic.

  • maimover
    maimover Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    @burekcrew86 I agree with shllnzl. It’s really important to make proper identification with all wild edibles; plants/ herbs and mushrooms too. Safety first

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,505 admin


    I agree with both @shllnzl and @maimover . You must go with an expert on your first time out and probably for a few times after that. But here is a link to a program called MatchMaker Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest. That might not be the area you live in but it is a really good identification program that you can download to your computer or tablet and take out to the bush with you. You don't need to be online for it to work.

    Start with really easy to identify species that have no look-a-likes that might be poisonous. Puffballs are great to start with. I harvested one this year that weighed 9 lbs. 2 oz. Shared it with several neighbours. And made a pot of cream of puffball soup.

    I would also highly recommend this book: The Fungal Pharmacy by Robert Dale Rogers. Very comprehensive volume.

    If you are able to get to Colorado, there is a mushroom festival every year in Telluride that celebrates all things fungi. Lots of expert speakers, foraging walks, identification workshops and food.

  • VickiP
    VickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    Agree with previous comments, go with an experienced forager the first few times. In my state (Missouri) the local conservation department offers foraging events and these often include mushrooms. They have a wild edibles event planed in May. Your state may offer a similar program. Here is their online field guide: but don't depend on pictures, please have your finds verified until you are positive of Identification. I would offer another caution, all mushrooms have mildly toxic components which for most people are not a problem. I on the other hand have a sensitivity to many wild mushrooms. The sickest I have ever been was after eating some Puffballs. My family enjoyed them tremendously while, almost immediately, I began projectile vomiting and had other gastro issues best left undiscussed. So with any new mushroom I try just a small amount to make sure I can tolerate it before having a full serving. That issue aside, I love mushrooms and enjoy stalking them!

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,354 admin
    edited December 2019

    I've been foraging mushrooms and wild plants for a good 30 years now.... never had anyone to teach me. I had Mushrooms Demystified and the Audubon Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. In recent years, there have been several more truly excellent books, with not only the KEYS (which are essential to learn), but high quality photos... and websites like Mushroom Expert, FB pages, aps, etc. For most of my life, I had only one or two books - none of the high quality ID resources of today.... I've eaten my weight in mushrooms, many times over... and I'm not dead yet. I agree that you should be very careful. But, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It is better to get out in the woods and to be cautious than to never go because of fear or imperfect situations. The book 100 Edible Mushrooms is a great place to start.... there is also an old book (USDA publication, I think) that just focuses on 12 "no brainer" easy to identify edible mushrooms. Even just learning to identify 1 edible mushroom is a very good start - maybe Sulphur shelf/chicken of the woods if it is common to your area, or oysters. To know one well is much better than to "guestimate" many. That said, don't be stupid/reckless.

  • maimover
    maimover Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    @burekcrew86 thank you for sharing the link for the mushroom festival. I’m recently “learning, trying “ to eat mushrooms due to their fabulous health enhancing qualities; will definitely have to check this out. My friend who “loves” mushrooms may be interested in attending...

  • Desire’
    Desire’ Posts: 31 ✭✭

    If you don't have any mycologists or expert foragers near you I suggest lots of research before even going out. Pattern recognition will allow you to quickly spot mushrooms as well as make it easier to identitfy whether you have found an edible or a look-a-like. Take the time to do the tests that help identify mushrooms. What color is the spore print? What color is the bruising? etc. Become an expert with a couple mushrooms in your area and slowly add to your repretoire. This is the way I've had to do it.