Early spring is prime time for finding morel mushrooms in Michigan.
Wild mushrooms, like morels and chanterelles, help define the forests of Michigan and provide income for foragers, farmers and restaurateurs.
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development warns mushroom hunters that if improperly identified, mushrooms can pose serious health risks.
Michigan requires mushroom sellers to be certified or have each mushroom individually inspected and found safe by a certified mushroom expert.
People purchasing wild mushrooms should only purchase them from a certified mushroom identification expert.
“There are many varieties of edible mushrooms that grow in Michigan, but there are also toxic, poisonous varieties, so there is some risk involved,” said Tim Slawinski, director, Food and Dairy Division at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Foraging mushrooms on public lands like state parks and game areas for personal use is allowed and encouraged, but selling wild mushrooms harvested from public lands is illegal.
A commercial use permit is required for foraging and selling wild mushrooms in national forests. Both personal and commercial mushroom picked is not allowed in national parks.
Mushroom poisoning ranges from slight gastrointestinal discomfort to death. Common symptoms associated with mushroom poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, lethargy and yellowing of the skin or eyes. Mushroom poisoning is usually the result of ingestion of wild mushrooms after misidentification of a toxic mushroom as an edible species. The most common reason for this misidentification is the close resemblance of some toxic mushroom species with edible species.
“The bottom line is: please enjoy hunting for and eating your favorite wild mushrooms, but make sure you know how to properly identify them,” said Slawinski.
If you suspect mushroom poisoning, seek immediate medical assistance, and call the Michigan Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers an interactive map that could lead mushroom mavens to their tasty treats. The morel Morchella exhuberens often shows up the next spring where pine trees have burned.