When gathering mushrooms for food in Michigan…
Don’t Pick Poison!

Can you identify these three mushroom species?

There are approximately 2,500 species of mushrooms in Michigan that are substantial enough to make a meal when collected in quantity. At least 50 of these mushroom species are known to be poisonous, while somewhere around 60 to 100 species are generally regarded as safe for eating.

A poisonous mushroom may be defined as one that, when ingested, would cause illness or death in a majority of the population, the majority of the time. This excludes unusual reactions and allergies that certain individuals may have to a normally edible mushroom. It should be noted that all wild-foraged mushrooms must be thoroughly cooked before consumption, as many edible mushrooms (including morels) can cause gastrointestinal distress if eaten raw.

You cannot determine whether a mushroom is poisonous or safe by any method other than identifying the mushroom to species. Each individual mushroom that is slated for consumption must be identified.

A Few Mushroom Myths:

  • All white mushrooms are safe to eat. 

     The destroying angel, pictured above, is just one example of a white mushroom that is deadly poisonous.

  • Thoroughly cooking any mushroom renders it safe to eat. 

     Cooking does not break down most mushroom toxins and cannot, therefore, render a poisonous mushroom to be safe.

  • If an animal or insect can eat a type of mushroom, so can humans. 

     Just because a particular mushroom is not deadly to an insect or animal, that doesn’t mean it’s safe for human consumption. Squirrels and rabbits, for example, can safely eat Amanita species that are deadly to humans.

The only way to tell an edible mushroom from a poisonous one is to accurately
identify the individual mushroom to species!

For more information on poisonous mushrooms in Michigan, please read the booklet,
Don’t Pick Poison, published by the MSU Extension.