Oscoda County offers many opportunities for the mushroom hunter. Good edibles may be found spring through fall in the region’s many habitats.
Northern Michigan is renowned for its morels, and the season here begins in late April or early May. Black morels are the first to appear and may be found in beech/maple woods (especially those with ash), poplar stands, old fruit orchards, near lakes and streams, in cedar swamps, in garden soil, and anywhere else this mysterious mushroom has a mind to appear. The blacks are followed about two weeks later by the white morels, which favor hardwoods. The two overlap by about a week. Blacks generally fruit abundantly for about three weeks, the whites for two or more, although the length of season may vary depending on the weather.
Toward the end of May oyster mushrooms appear, fruiting, often in large quantities, on dead poplar. They may reappear several times well into the autumn during warm, wet weather.
Summer brings large numbers of edibles, including chanterelles and king boletes (otherwise known as porcini), two of the world’s most highly prized species. The golden-orange chanterelles, vase shaped and having the appearance of lilies on the forest floor, are primarily found in beech woods but may also fruit under oaks and jack pines. The king bolete is one of many boletus species to be found in the county, the most common being the scaber stalk, a type of leccinum. All boletes have pores rather than gills.
Other common summer species are sulfur shelf (chicken of the woods), meadow mushrooms, black trumpets, puffballs, comb tooths, sweet tooths (hedgehog mushrooms), and lobster mushrooms.
Autumn brings large quantities of honey mushrooms, also known as “stumpies,” a local favorite. They can often be found fruiting massively on oak stumps, usually following the first September rains. Other good edible late summer or fall species are the blewit, parasol, shaggy parasol, shaggy mane, grayling, and brick cap. Many summer species will continue to fruit in the fall during warm, wet weather.
Many non-edible species also abound, some poisonous, a few deadly, many edible but not palatable. Never eat a mushroom you have not positively identified. Use a good field guide and consult an experienced mushroom hunter for anything you are not sure about. Stick to young, fresh specimens and avoid those with insect damage. Wild mushrooms should always be thoroughly cooked before consumption. To avoid damaging the mycelia from which they fruit, cut their stalks with a knife rather than pulling them up by the roots, except for identification purposes. Fresh specimens can usually be kept in the refrigerator, with adequate airflow, for a few days. Many take well to drying or freezing. Consult a good field guide for details.