Mushroom Hunting in Texas: A Complete Guide

Updated: December 27, 2022
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Hunting for mushrooms in texas is an exciting hobby! There’s a whole world of mushrooms to discover, and the best part is that the more you, the more mushrooms you’ll bring home!

I know that this depth of knowledge is intimidating for many people, but most need to realize that you don’t need to be an expert to forage. You can start with just one or two mushrooms that are easy to identify and safe to eat. Start small, don’t bother with the other thousands of mushrooms just yet.

Also, because Texas is such a huge state, there’s a fantastic variety of fungi that grow across the different regions. And as a starter, you only need to look into the mushrooms that grow in your area.

So, let’s dive into Texas mushroom hunting! In this article, I’ll explain where and when you can find the more well-known edible mushrooms, what weather is best for mushroom hunting, the laws about foraging, and much more!

How to Get Started

Getting started is the hardest part if you don’t know what resources to turn to or don’t know any people that go mushroom hunting. Thankfully, there are tons of books, Facebook groups, and organizations you can get involved with to learn about identifying mushrooms and where to go hunt!

It’s best to start by picking one or two mushrooms you’re likely to find in your area and to look for those- rather than trying to identify every mushroom you find.

You can also go out to simply identify- and not pick to eat- to build up your knowledge progressively.

The most important thing is that you start! You need to research and be super careful before eating, but this doesn’t mean you must do years of research before you go hunting. That’s also why we have this complete guide, so you can get the basics down and get out there!

Resources

There are thousands of books, websites, and forums you can turn to for in-depth information on mushroom hunting. This article will aim at exploring beginner-friendly tips.

Mushroom Observer is a great resource for getting started. It’s set up like a forum where members can share their findings and ask questions. The site is community-driven and doesn’t always have expert input, but it’s a way to start sharing and learning!

I also highly recommend getting a field guide with lots of pictures and detailed descriptions. You can get a general field guide covering all mushrooms in North America or a guide specifically for Texas mushrooms or Gulf state mushrooms, for example.

Texas Laws About Mushroom Hunting

One of the most important things to be aware of when going foraging is knowing the laws and rules of your area.

Thankfully, in Texas, the laws are very clear and simple. Simply put, you can go mushroom hunting in Texas, and you don’t need a special permit.

All that matters is where you go hunting. You can only pick mushrooms in National Forests, not in state parks or national parks- keep in mind that there’s a difference!

In Texas, there are four national forests: Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Angelina, and Sabine. It’s also a good idea to look on the website of the national forest you’re going to and see if they have any specific rules or recent changes.

When mushroom hunting, you can take up to one gallon per day and per person. And trust me, you won’t need more than one gallon of mushrooms!

These are the rules for public lands, but you can also go mushroom hunting on private property. Of course, you have access to anything growing on your land, and you can go mushroom hunting on other people’s property with their permission. In this case, there’s no limit on the number of mushrooms you can collect.

General Rules for Foraging

Along with the laws on mushroom hunting. there are some general rules that we follow to forage in a responsible and respectful manner.

The main rule, which goes for foraging of any kind, is to only take as much as you’ll use. It can be exciting to find something edible- especially as a beginner- and you may be tempted to take as much as possible. But keep in mind that what you’re collecting is also food for forest animals, and it doesn’t help anyone if it’s rotting in your fridge!

Specifically for mushrooms, always “tap the cap” to release the spores in the cap so that more mushrooms can pop up! The spores in mushrooms are like the seeds in fruits- it’s how they reproduce, and if you pull the mushroom before they’ve released its spores, it can’t keep going.

When you’re ready to pick the mushroom, grab it from the base and gently pull it so you don’t tear it or disrupt the mycelium (its root system). Some foragers even bring pocket knives to snip mushrooms, although this isn’t necessary.

Lastly, be mindful and keep your eyes open! Mushrooms are all connected by an underground mycelial network, so if you spot one mushroom, it’s likely that there are several more around it- be careful not to step on others while you’re going picking!

Now that you know the rules for mushroom hunting, let’s start looking at well-known edible mushrooms. Morel, Chanterelle, and Oyster mushrooms are really popular edible mushrooms that are loved for their flavor and are fairly easy to identify.

Morel Mushrooms (Morchella esculenta)

Morel mushrooms growing among flowers
Once you can recognize morel mushrooms, you won’t miss them.

©milart/Shutterstock.com

Morels are highly coveted mushrooms for their yummy earthy taste and slightly meaty texture. They’re well-known in the culinary world and widely loved by mushroom foragers. Morels aren’t super common in forests, but they have a pretty unique look.

They have brown caps with ridges that make deep dips and look like honeycombs. These caps are different from most mushrooms and are iconic to mushroom foragers. Once you can recognize morels, you won’t miss them.

Morels are only a few inches tall and are gray-brown when they’re growing. The skin turns yellow as they mature, and that’s your sign that they’re ready! There are “False Morels” which look similar, but you can tell them apart by the insides: true Morels are completely hollow.

Morels can be found in the damp forests of east Texas forests. They aren’t as common in northern Texas, but they are still found there. They’re often found in wet areas on dead trees or in areas that have been burnt.

Chanterelle Mushrooms (Cantharellus sp.)

Foraged chantarelle mushrooms held in hands
Foraged chantarelle mushrooms held in hands

©Mathew Shawn Turner/Shutterstock.com

Chanterelles are another favorite that are edible and super tasty. Plus, they’re quite expensive in specialty markets, which makes finding some in the forest even more rewarding. There are about 15 species of Chanterelles with slightly different looks and tastes, including a Cantharellus texensis which might be native only to Texas!

The most common variety is Cantharellus lateritius, the “smooth Chanterelle,” which is funnel-shaped and bright orange. It’s likely the one you think about when thinking of Chanterelles because this is the most common species sold in markets.

Along with the bright orange Chanterelle is its lookalike, the toxic Southern Jack O’ Lantern (which I’ll describe more in the next section). However, not all species of Chanterelle are orange. Some are white, yellow, or red.

Chanterelles require moisture to sprout, so don’t even dry to go hunting during a dry spell. Often found in forests with oaks or conifers, Chanterelles only grow in relationship with a tree and will be found at the base- likely of a hardwood tree but possibly a pine.

They’re commonly found in northern and eastern Texas forests. In particular, Walnut Creek in Davy Crockett National Forest, in eastern Texas, is a tried and true spot for Chanterelles!

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

oyster mushroom in wild
The clustered fashion that oyster mushrooms grow in may help with identification.

©NK-55/Shutterstock.com

Another edible and easy-to-spot mushroom is the Oyster mushroom, which is also very popular in markets since it’s really easy to cultivate!

Oyster mushrooms have large, flat caps that spread several inches across and beautiful, delicate gills on the underside, making them my personal favorite. They’re often cream-white but will also grow in orange or light pink, depending on the species.

These mushrooms grow on old or dead wood, either on the forest floor or on tree stumps. They grow best with cooler temperatures, so those of you in northern Texas have a better chance of finding these beauties! Although they can be found in the south, too, just look in mid to late fall when it’s cooler.

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus)

huge lion's mane mushroom in forest
While they don’t look like traditional mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms are indeed edible.

©Fotografiecor.nl/Shutterstock.com

The last edible favorite to keep an eye out for is the Lion’s Mane, aptly named for its shaggy “hairs” that resemble a full lion’s mane. These mushrooms are edible but are also highly valued for their health benefits, including memory improvement and anti-inflammatory properties.

They’re often found growing on dead or decaying wood and will grow directly on the wood pieces. Lion’s Mane grows like puffballs, forming a large white ball on the wood without a clear stem.

There are only one species that’s called Lion’s Mane, so you don’t have to worry about confusing various species, and there are no lookalikes! If you see a large white ball growing on the side of a tree trunk and long, draping hairs, it’s likely a Lion’s Mane!

Toxic Mushrooms in Texas

Along with learning about the common edible mushrooms, it’s important to learn about the common toxic mushrooms that you could find in Texas. Most people don’t realize most mushrooms are edible, and only a few poisonous ones exist.

Also, there are many mushrooms that are listed as edible but may cause a reaction for some people, while other mushrooms are called toxic, but some people can eat them safely. This may sound confusing, but the important thing is to only pick and eat mushrooms that are considered edible 100% of the time.

Destroying Angel (Amanita bisporigera)

An Amanita bisporigera destroying angel mushroom in the woods growing alongside other foliage
An Amanita bisporigera destroying angel mushroom in the woods growing alongside other foliage.

©Barry Blackburn/Shutterstock.com

The name might seem a bit dramatic, but rest assured, this is not a mushroom to take home for dinner. Amanita bisporigera is one of the deadliest mushrooms in the world and will cause fatal poisoning if ingested.

Thankfully, these mushrooms are pretty hard to miss or mistake for something else. Destroying Angel mushrooms have a striking appearance: completely white, several inches off the ground, with a firm stem and a large, flat cap.

These mushrooms do grow in Texas, so it’s good to be aware that they could be out there. Also, know that these mushrooms have a small, rounded cap when younger- which makes them resemble many white mushrooms- and their cap doesn’t open and flatten out until it’s mature.

Generally, I find that it’s best to just stay away from white mushrooms since there are other poisonous mushrooms that are white.

Southern Jack O’Lantern (Omphalotus subilludens)

An aged Southern Jack O'Lantern mushroom cluster (Omphalotus subilludens) growing on a fallen branch in Florida. The darker color and darker edges can appear as the mushroom gets older.
An aged Southern Jack O’Lantern mushroom cluster (Omphalotus subilludens).

©John_P_Anderson/Shutterstock.com

Despite its festive name, the Southern Jack O’Lantern is highly toxic and should not be picked for consumption. Unfortunately, it resembles the orange Chanterelle, but once you familiarize yourself with each mushroom, you’ll see that they’re quite different.

Chanterelles are funnel-shaped with a wavy cap, while Southern Jack O’Lanterns have a sharper distinction between the stem and cap, which is much flatter.

Southern Jack O’Lanterns are also bright orange, but actually, their name comes from their bioluminescence. It’s very faint, but these mushrooms have a slight glow in complete darkness!

False Parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites)

Green-spore Parasol ( Chlorophyllum molybdites ). A kind of widespread poisonous mushroom. Appear in lawns after the rain. If you eat this, you may vomiting, diarrhea, and colic.
Green-spore Parasol ( Chlorophyllum molybdites ). A kind of widespread poisonous mushroom. Appear in lawns after the rain. If you eat this, you may vomit, have diarrhea, and have colic.

©GlimpseDays/Shutterstock.com

There are several species of Chlorophyllum mushrooms called different kinds of “parasol mushrooms.” Some are potentially edible, but this species is certainly not edible and should be avoided.

These mushrooms are small, only a few inches tall, and have a white cap and stem. One thing that differentiates the False Parasol mushrooms is their green-tinted gills and undersides.

Where to Find Mushrooms in Texas

Remember that you can only go out mushroom hunting in national forests in Texas, but there’s more to consider if you’d like to learn more. National forests are huge, and simply entering one won’t guarantee finding mushrooms.

A great way to learn about hot spots is by joining a local group! There are several options for Texas:

Through connecting with other mushroom hunters in your region, you can learn about the spots where everyone finds mushrooms year after year. Often, this kind of local, experienced knowledge isn’t online; you just have to meet people to find out!

Eastern Texas

Generally, east Texas is known to have a great diversity of mushrooms. This is due to the wet, swampy forests in that region. Mushrooms grow best in moist conditions, so the bogs and frequent rains of eastern Texas are ideal for mushrooms.

All four of the national forests in Texas are in the east. Thus, this region has the greatest potential for mushroom hunting. In fact, Madisonville has a yearly Mushroom Festival that attracts mushroom hunters and lovers from all over the state!

Northern Texas

North Texas also has a great selection of mushrooms in its forests, especially those that grow better in colder temperatures.

There aren’t any national forests in northern Texas. But if you have friends with large properties, ask them if you can go hunting on their property! Plus, you may even find some in your own backyard!

Central and Western Texas

Again, there aren’t national forests in Central texas. Luckily the climate is wet and cool enough to support all kinds of mushroom growth. Particularly, places with hardwood or pine tree forests may be hosting lots of mushrooms.

Mushrooms aren’t as common in western and southwestern Texas. This is because these regions are really dry, making it hard for the mushrooms to form. But it’s not impossible! There are still several kinds of mushrooms that grow in western Texas in wetter areas, like along rivers and streams.

When to Go Mushroom Hunting

A lot of people also wonder when is the season for mushrooms. Thankfully, this question is really straightforward and easy to remember.

Mushrooms pop up in the spring and fall, although some mushrooms prefer colder or warmer temperatures. For the northern parts of the state, the mushroom season will definitely be spring through fall. The further south you are- where temperatures are warmer- the longer the mushroom season!

Mushrooms are most likely to pop up when the ground is deeply soaked after rainfall. So, the summertime could be the ideal mushroom season in northern Texas. This won’t be the case for central and eastern Texas, where the summers are hot and dry.

In general, mid-fall or spring is the perfect timing. There’s enough rain to keep the ground wet during this time, and the temperatures are still cool. After you get a few days of consecutive rain, head out to see if any mushrooms have popped up!

Final Tips

You now have enough information to start going out and trying to identify mushrooms that you see! Remember, you could learn a whole field of knowledge, but you don’t need to know everything.

You need to start somewhere, and somehow, going for a walk in the woods doesn’t harm!

When starting off, we suggest taking pictures that you can study when you get back home. Take detailed pictures from every angle, or you can draw the mushrooms if you want!

We hope you found this guide useful and will also look at the resources to further your research. Welcome to the wonderful world of mushrooms, and best of luck on your hunts!

Editor’s Note: While A-Z Animals does its best to ensure the accuracy of its content and photography, do not eat wild mushrooms without firsthand knowledge from a local mycologist or mushroom expert as many types of mushrooms look similar.

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The content on this page is for informational purposes only and may contain inaccuracies. Please verify all information independently. AZ Animals says: do not any eat wild mushrooms or plants without firsthand knowledge that they are safe for consumption.


The Featured Image

An aged Southern Jack O'Lantern mushroom cluster (Omphalotus subilludens) growing on a fallen branch in Florida. The darker color and darker edges can appear as the mushroom gets older.
An aged Southern Jack O'Lantern mushroom cluster (Omphalotus subilludens).
© John_P_Anderson/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Peyton has always loved playing outside, as a kid and still well into her 20's. The connections between our lives, other animals, and all the plants around us has always fascinated her and fueled a drive to learn so much about the natural world. Through curiosity and experience, her knowledge has grown, specifically on medicinal plants and regenerative agriculture. Her favorite animal is the Holland Lop rabbit, after learning they're the greatest pet you could ever have.

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