By Lina Rodriguez Salamanca–Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
AMES, Iowa – Gathering mushrooms can be an enjoyable activity for families and individuals of all ages. In Iowa, mushrooms can be foraged from spring through late fall, providing a wide window of opportunity.
To help mushroom gatherers identify and understand the characteristics of Iowa’s mushrooms, specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach have published the “Safe Mushroom Foraging” guide.
This 80-page publication provides foragers guidance on the time of year each mushroom is available, its key characteristics, habitat, and look-alike mushrooms. There is also information on common mushroom myths and best practices for searching for them in the wild.
Full-color photos help hunters identify more than 50 mushrooms, including those that are considered edible, not edible, and poisonous.
“The guide is a great resource for people who want to hunt mushrooms on their own or with their children, as they look at different mushrooms and learn about their role in nature in the wild,” said Lina Rodriguez-Salamanca, plant pathology diagnostician with the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic at Iowa State University. “The guide focuses on the most common mushrooms and their look-alikes, as well as those that are edible and those that are poisonous to avoid.”
The guide includes a calendar showing which time of year each type of mushroom is likely to be found, and it offers best practices for gathering and storing methods.
Rodriguez-Salamanca is also featured in an instructional video on YouTube, provided by Integrated Pest Management at Iowa State.
The “Safe Mushroom Foraging” guide is available from the Iowa State Extension Store, for $4 per hard copy, plus shipping and handling.
The guide was co-authored with Rosanne Healy, assistant research scientist at University of Florida and an Iowa State alumna, and Leonor Leandro, associate professor in plant pathology and microbiology at Iowa State.
Consumer awareness about foraging is important, and there are always risks associated with consuming wild mushrooms. A mushroom foraging webinar is being planned for Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. via zoom. Registration is open online. For more information or questions on the webinar registration, contact Katelyn Brinkerhof, program coordinator in Buena Vista County, at [email protected].