Wild edible mushrooms are found all over North America. When hunting mushrooms it is important to know the difference between edible and poisonous varieties. Many varieties of edible mushrooms grow wild in the Tennessee countryside. Wild mushrooms grow in all sizes and shapes, and a careful hunter can distinguish between edible and non-edible types.
Search for morels. They grow in the spring in moist areas. Morels are small, cream-colored mushrooms with a spongy head. Most often they are found near dead trees, in sandy soil, or under wet leaves.
Hunt for the hen of the woods in areas with a high oak tree population. This pale tan mushroom can weigh up to 10 pounds, and looks similar to a hen with ruffled feathers in both appearance and size. This mushroom has clustered gray overlapping caps and is hunted in the fall. It generally grow at the base of dead or rotting trees.
Search for the sweet tooth, or hydnum repandum, near birch trees. Generally, they appear from August to November. The mushroom’s head ranges from orange to a light brown color, and is 2 to 8 inches wide. It is recognizable by it tiny, dark colored teeth; they break off when touched. This variety grows in groups.
Keep a guide with you. If you are attempting to identify edible mushrooms for the first time, have someone knowledgeable in this area accompany you, or at least take a handbook with pictures and descriptions of mushrooms that grow in your area.
Purchase a book with pictures to help identify various species of mushrooms. Consider contacting a mycological society, or mushroom club, and take advantage of the field trips and lectures to learn more about edible mushrooms.
If you are ever in doubt about the type of mushroom you find, throw it out. Eating it can be fatal if it is a poisonous variety.