Spring Mushroom Hunting: 5 Best Species to Hunt (Beginners)

Many delicious mushrooms can be found in the spring forest after the snow melts. We tell you what you can look for in spring mushroom hunting, where, and when to look for, and how not to confuse anything.

spring mushroom hunting

What to hunt in Spring Mushroom Hunting?

True Morel Hunting in spring

true morel

The mushroom that is found in our forests is perhaps the most common. Due to the unusual shape, the real morel (Morchella esculenta) is clearly visible in last year’s fallen leaves.

The cap of the mushroom is brown or gray-brown, round-spherical, with uneven cells. The edges pass into a yellowish stem, which expands from below. In height, a real morel can reach 15 cm. Inside the mushroom is hollow, with thin and brittle pulp.

Where does True Morel grow

Most often, this morel is found in floodplain forests and parks, on clearings and edges. The fungus loves deciduous forests – look for it under poplar, aspen or alder. Occasionally, the morel is also found in pine forests on calcareous soil that is nourishing for it. Want to know about Mushrooms that grow on Poplar trees.

When to Collect True Morel

Usually, the real morel appears in April. If the winter is not particularly snowy, the first mushrooms sometimes come across in the last days of March.

how to identify true morels

The real morel is similar to its counterparts – the tall morel and the conical morel. All of them are edible. Morchella esculenta can be confused with the common line. This poisonous mushroom is often found in coniferous forests. You can identify it by the cap – it is curved and fleshy inside, in shape, it is a bit like the core of a walnut.

Must read out Mushrooms that Grow in Grass.

Oyster mushroom

oyster mushroom

Another common spring mushroom, is valued for its taste and abundance of vitamins.

Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) is distinguished by a smooth matte hat up to 15 cm in diameter with plates descending along the stem. The shape of the fungus resembles a funnel. The color of the cap can vary from light ash to dark gray or yellowish. The mushroom grows on a short curved leg.

Where does Oyster mushroom grow

Oyster mushroom is usually found on fallen deciduous trees and rotten stumps. The mushroom grows in nests of several pieces, which form peculiar tiers.

When to Collect Oyster mushroom

The Oyster mushroom is a very hardy mushroom, so it can often be found during the first March thaws. It ripens most actively in late April to early May.

how to identify Oyster mushroom

Oyster mushrooms have no dangerous twins. The mushroom can only be confused with the common sawfly (Lentinellus Ursinus) common in deciduous forests. However, it is determined quite easily – by the bitter pulp.

Here is list of  Mushrooms that Grow in Fall.

Dryad’s Saddle

dryads saddle

Another tree fungus that is best harvested young. An aged Dryad’s Saddle becomes hard and acquires a distinct woody flavor.

The yellow leathery hat of the tinder fungus with dark brown scales can reach 40 cm in diameter. A ripe mushroom has a thick, juicy and fleshy cap. The mushroom grows on a curved stem up to 10 cm long and up to 4 cm wide. It is by the leg that the easiest way to determine the age of the tinder fungus. In a young mushroom, it is soft and whitish, while in an adult it becomes like a cork and easily crumbles into dust.

Where does Dryad’s Saddle grow

Look for Dryad’s Saddle in parks and broadleaf forests. It is found on living and fallen trees – most often on elms. The tinder fungus grows both singly and in groups – in this case, it forms a colony of fused fan-shaped mushrooms.

When to Collect Dryad’s Saddle

You can start collecting Dryad’s Saddle from mid-May.

How to identify Dryad’s Saddle?

Due to its size and color, the Dryad’s Saddle fungus cannot be confused with other types of mushrooms.

mosaic puffball

mosaic puffball

This mosaic puffball is called the little brother of the truffle for its spherical shape and pleasant taste.

The cap of the mosaic puffball (Bovistella utriformis) is spherical, and slightly flattened at the top. It can reach a diameter of 25–30 cm. Giants with a hat of 40–45 cm are rare. The surface of the fungus is both smooth and covered with light scales. The color of young mushrooms is light gray. In the old mosaic puffball, the fruiting body bursts, and the cap is covered with brown spore powder.

You can also distinguish a young mushroom from an old one by the color of the pulp. At the beginning of maturation, it is white and elastic, with time the color changes to gray-brown. The mushroom grows on a light cylindrical leg.

Where does mosaic puffball grow

The sac-like mosaic puffball prefers open places: meadows, fields, and pastures. Sometimes it can be found on deciduous and coniferous edges. Most often, the mushroom grows singly.

When to Collect mosaic puffball

The sac-like mosaic puffball belongs to the early raincoats. Actively begins to ripen after May showers.

How to identify mosaic puffball?

The only dangerous double of the mosaic puffball is the common false puffball (Scleroderma aurantium). Eating this mushroom can cause serious stomach upset. However, it is not difficult to distinguish a mosaic puffball from a false raincoat. The latter has darker skin. And if you break the hat, the flesh quickly turns red. The smell of false puffballs is reminiscent of raw potatoes.

Hunt Mushrooms that grow on Poplar trees.

horse mushroom

horse mushroom

This delicacy mushroom is the most common in the champignon family. In the people, it is often called “horse mushroom” due to the fact that horse mushroom (Agaricus arvensis) sometimes appears on manured soil near the stables.

The cap of a horse mushroom with a diameter of 5 to 15 cm is hemispherical, with edges turned inward. Over time, it straightens, and the edges become drooping. The cap of a young mushroom is covered with light scales, which turn yellow and crack over time.

A light gray film on the inside of the cap covers thin plates. During the life of the fungus, its color changes from light gray to pinkish and dark brown. The pulp of field champignon is dense, fleshy, white-yellow, with an anise flavor.

The stem of the mushroom is cylindrical and even, 6–10 cm high and about 2 cm wide. In young champignon it is dense, in the old it becomes loose and hollow.

Where does horse mushroom grow

Field champignon is usually found in well-lit places: in gardens, lawns and clearings. Sometimes it comes across in dense thickets of nettles. Near trees, the mushroom grows extremely rarely – it comes across mainly near spruces. During silent hunting, you can meet both a single mushroom and large ring groups.

When to Collect horse mushroom

You can go for field mushrooms already in May. The fungus does not like abundant moisture, so it ripens best after light rains. At the same time, champignon has a good yield – new mushrooms appear after one and a half to two weeks.

How to identify horse mushroom?

It is easiest to confuse this mushroom with false horse mushroom, light fly agaric, and pale grebe. To reveal poisonous twins, click on the pulp – it will turn yellow. And the leg, when cut, will change color from whitish to brown. Dangerous twins smell of iodine, drugs, or carbolic acid.

Calocybe gambosa

calocybe gambosa

The mushroom reveals its taste qualities especially brightly in fried and pickled form.

The cap of the May mushroom changes from white to yellow-brown. In a young mushroom, it is smooth, in an old one it becomes convex, reaching a diameter of 6–12 cm. With age, the plates also change in the fungus. At first, they are white, then the color becomes light ocher or cream.

The stem of the mushroom is pot-bellied, with a fibrous surface, 4–9 cm long, and 1.5–3.5 cm thick. In the upper part, it is light cream or white, in the lower part, it is yellowish.

The pulp of the May mushroom is juicy, dense, and white. On the cut, the color does not change. The mushroom has a pleasant taste and floury aroma.

Where does Calocybe gambosa grow

Small groups of mushrooms can be found in pine and mixed forests, on the edges, in meadows, in thickets of shrubs, sparse grass, and in small forests. It happens that the fungus also ripens on city lawns.

When to Collect Calocybe gambosa

The life span of the May fungus is short. It begins to grow in April, active growth occurs in May. And with the beginning of summer, the fungus completely disappears.

How to identify Calocybe gambosa?

The poisonous fiber of Patouillard (Inocybe patouillardii) is most similar to a young May mushroom – primarily with a whitish color of the fruiting body. When cut, the flesh of the dangerous double turns red. The old fiber has a red-brown cap with brown plates.

A special guide on  Mushrooms That Grow in Clusters.

Spring Mushroom Hunting Rules

There are a few rules that you should always follow while Spring Mushroom Hunting.

  1. Common deadly poisonous mushrooms (pale toadstool, fly agaric, false honey agaric, false champignon) need to be known, as they say, in person. Study their signs before you go to the forest.
  2. If there is even the slightest doubt about the edibility of a mushroom, throw it away. In extreme cases, put it separately to look it up later in the guide or show it to an experienced mushroom picker.
  3. Do not pick mushrooms along the roadsides, in garbage heaps, in city parks, near operating enterprises, since all mushrooms easily absorb harmful substances.
  4. If you are poisoned by mushrooms, immediately call an ambulance, but while you wait, rinse your stomach with plenty of clean water, causing vomiting, and take activated charcoal.