Get to know the most popular autumn mushrooms•
Posted on September 01 2022
Autumn is the absolute best time for mushrooms, after a year of growth the cool nights trigger mycelium to shoot out new fruiting bodies and the forests, meadows gardens and lawns everywhere start producing some of the coolest treats nature has to offer. Here are some of the more common and also most popular autumn mushrooms and where to find them.
Hen of the woods - Grifola frondosa
The dancing lady
Where to find: Check out old maple and oak trees
What it tastes like: Earthy and full of flavour, think a portobello but much much better and even more versatile. Try anywhere you want to add some delicious mushroom flavour.
Are there look-a-likes? Yes, both berkeley polypore (Bondarzewia berkeleyi) and black-staining polypore (Meripilus sumstinei) can have a similar form, however they are easy to differentiate from hens.
Chicken of the woods - Laetiporus sp.
Where to find: growing on dead and dying trees such as oak and maple however can grow on many other species including willow and conifers. Some people may have digestive issues with ones picked on evergreens
What it tastes like: chicken, as it gets old it can develop some sour bitterness but it really does taste like chicken
Are there look-a-likes? Not really, beefsteak mushroom (Fistulina hepatica) and other shelf mushrooms can look similar but it would be difficult to confuse with other species. If you find a white pored Laetiporus you are in luck, many people find them better than Laetiporus sulphureus.
Black Trumpet - Craterellus cornucopioides and Craterellus fallax
Delicate rich and decadent Horn of plenty
Where to find: In a variety of areas near oak, beech and pine trees in damp soil.
What it tastes like: Rich and chocolatey however best used in simple preparations where they are the star and not competing with other flavours, this is a very aromatic mushroom.
Are there look-a-likes? Urnula craterium or devils urn can look similar if you are unfamiliar with both.
Chanterelle - Cantharellus
The gateway wild mushroom
Where to find: there are many different varieties of chanterelle each with a different habitat, however they often grow well among pine, douglas or balsam fir and hemlocks.
What it tastes like: Slightly fruity and mild without being sweet.
Are there look-a-likes? Yes two lookalikes Omphalotus olearius and Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca.
Winter and Yellowfoot Chanterelle - Craterellus
Not quite chanterelles, but close.
Where to find: Damp mixed forests, boggy areas growing from soil.
What it tastes like: slightly more peppery than a chanterelle, mild and earthy.
Are there look-a-likes? Yes waxcaps can appear similar to them at some stages.
Hedgehog Mushrooms - Hydnum
Nutty jewels of the forest
Where to find: Mixed forests near beech, beaked hazelnut, birch and spruce
What it tastes like: Mild and nutty, similar to a chanterelle without the fruitiest and with a superior texture.
Are there look-a-likes? Sarcodon sp, another quilled mushroom that can look similar, however with a scaley top and darker hues. There are over 30 types of Hedgehog mushrooms so don't be discouraged if it doesn't resemble umbilicatum or repandum.
Lactarius Thyinos and Deliciosus
Little orange treats
Where to find: Maple bushes and mixed forests
What it tastes like: mild with a slightly waxy texture
Are there look-a-likes? Other lactarius and because they are orange, some people may think they are chanterelles when young.
Where to find: Edging pine forests and in sandy soil
What it tastes like: mild with a slightly grainy texture
Are there look-a-likes? Not really.
Birch, aspen, scaber stalked bolete
Where to find: Mixed forests, near aspen, birch, poplar and many other deciduous trees
What it tastes like: Earthy,slightly toasted, pleasant.
Are there look-a-likes? Loads of boletes look similar, and its hard to pin down exact Leccinum species without DNA, however they are a generally safe delicious mushroom.
Matsutake - Tricholoma matsutake
The spicy pine mushroom
Where to find: Jack pine forests
What it tastes like: A little fishy with a distinctive cinnamon like essence.
Are there look-a-likes? Catathelasma ventricosum or swollen stalked cat looks nearly identical with a tonal difference on the cap and less ashy mycelium.
Hericium in its many forms
Lions mane, bears tooth, pompom mushroom
Where to find: Growing on dead hardwood such as oak, maple, birch and black walnut.
What it tastes like: Seafood or scallop like, will also absorb flavours.
Are there look-a-likes? Not really but there are many varieties of Hericium such as hericium coralloides, americanum, erinaceus and all are edible.
Lepista nuda complex
Blewits in their many shades and forms
Where to find: Mixed forest floors, cedar, pine hardwoods and more. You can even find them in cut grass.
What it tastes like: Strong earthy and fragrant. Similar to some boletes in their intensity.
Are there look-a-likes? Yes purple Cortinarius, that while there are many toxic Cortinarius, few if any reports of people getting sick mistaking them as blewits.
Lobster Mushrooms - Hypomyces lactifluorum
Seafood of the forest
Where to find: In mixed forests, often favouring pine.
What it tastes like: Like seafood, specifically like lobster.
Are there look-a-likes? Not really, this is a parisitized lactarius or russula mushroom. Other mushrooms can get parasitized by Hypomyces
Giant Puffball - Calvatia gigantea
Where to find: growing in yards, fields, forests, literally anywhere it can access rich soil.
What it tastes like: fragrant and sweet with an intensity depending on size and age. Great at absorbing flavours.
Are there look-a-likes? When small, some amanitas can form mushroom eggs that look like premature giant puffballs.
Boletus edulis complex
The kings of the forest
Where to find: In old growth mixed oak maple and birch forests
What it tastes like: Intensely rich earthy and umami, these are the mushrooms most sauces and mixtures are based on
Are there look-a-likes? Yes loads of them, its important to know about features such as reticulation, scabers and pay attention to the shape, colour and texture of all parts of the mushroom.
Cauliflower Mushroom - Sparassis crispa
Meaty forest egg noodles
Where to find: near Douglas fir and Spruce
What it tastes like: Sweet and floral and grassy, with a pleasant mild nuttiness
Are there look-a-likes? Sebacina sparassoidea or Tremella reticulata
Honey Mushrooms - Armillaria mellea and Armillaria tabescens
Where to find: Growing on wood, specifically dead hardwoods such as oak but also found on maple and aspen.
What it tastes like: Usually mild sweet however cold can cause them to go slightly bitter.
Are there look-a-likes? Gymnopilus junonius and Omphalotus illudens can look like some varieties of Honey mushroom and are significantly toxic.
Weeping bolete, Larch boletes or Elegant bolete - Suillus clintonianus formerly Suillus grevillei
It's not a slippery jack but most people will call it that.
Where to find: Mixed forests, particularly near Larch ( Tamarack )
What it tastes like: Earthy, pleasant, non distinct
Are there look-a-likes? Yes, slippery jacks (Suillus luteus) and slippery jill (Suillus salmonicolor)
Amanita muscaria - not edible - Amanita muscaria var. guessowii
The misunderstood North American fly agaric
Where to find: mixed forests, lawns and meadows.
What it tastes like: Don't eat them please. While not deadly they are a deliriant that can make for an uncomfortable time.
Are there look-a-likes? There are lots of similar members of the Amanita family, most should be avoided.
There are loads more mushrooms that grow throughout autumn than this concise list so get out there and take photos, pick the mushrooms you see and rip them apart to get familiar with how they look and feel and all their different parts, if they stain and sometimes even check to see how they taste.
Please do not eat any mushroom you are not confident about, and know that even totally edible mushroom may react poorly with some people.
Want to learn more about how to sustainably pick wild mushroom? Read This!.
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