There are many different wild edible mushrooms that can be found in Missouri. Each one is different from the others in some way or the other. Once you figure out which is which you will no longer confuse them from the poisonous ones. In this article I will list a few of these wild mushrooms and list a little information about each.
Lycoperdon, better known as Puffballs have been described as anything from a golf ball to sheep. They are round pear-shaped mushrooms that are almost always a whitish, tan or gray color. These mushrooms sometimes have a stalk-like base but are known to be without a stalk too. The interior is solid white at first then gradually turning yellow and finally turns brown as the mushroom ages. In its final stages the interior of the mushroom changes to a mass of dark, powdery spores. These mushrooms can be found in late summer and fall. Each of these puffballs should be sliced from top to bottom and also be sure to examine the interior to be sure it is completely white. If there is no trace of brown or yellow and no sign of developing mushrooms with a stalk, gills or cap, you can go ahead and remove outer skin, slice, dip in your batter and fry.
Coprinus comatus, also known as shaggy mane or lawyer’s wig is a very large and distinctive mushroom. The cap of this mushroom when it is fresh is a long, white cylinder with shaggy, upturned, brownish scales. The gills of this mushroom are whitish in color and it is known these are very fragile and will crumble easily. These mushrooms can be anywhere from four to six inches tall. These mushrooms are found in the summer, spring and fall growing in soil, grass or wood chips, but are more often found in pastures and lawns. As this matures the cap and gills will dissolve into a black and inky fluid. These caps are best picked before they turn black and are best cooked by sauté butter and season such as nutmeg and garlic. These can be very tasty in scrambled eggs or in any chicken dishes.
Clavariaceae, better known as Coral Fungi, appear as clumps of branching stems that point upwards. They have the look of coral and many are tan, whitish or yellow and few are pinkish or purple color. Some of these in clusters have been known to be at least eight inches tall. These mushrooms are found in the summer and fall in wooded areas, growing in the ground or on decaying logs. A caution to be aware of is that a few of these types of mushrooms have a laxative effect and some people tend to be sensitive towards eating them. The tips and branches are most tender, so just sauté with vegetables and enjoy.
Pleurotus ostreatus, better known as Oyster mushroom, are large white, tan or ivory colored. They are named for their oyster shell-like shape. Their white gills run down their very short, off-center stem with white to lilac colored spores that are very soft. They are usually found in large clusters in the spring, summer, and fall, and also during warm times in the winter. Be sure to check to make sure this is the type of mushroom you have before eating, as there are a lot of look-a-likes. You may soak these in salt water first, then dip in batter and fry them up.
These are just a few different types of wild mushrooms to eat and enjoy in Missouri.