How to Identify Wild Mushrooms in Texas

By Darby Stevenson
The world of mycology can be a fun way to learn about the ways of nature all around us.

Identifying mushrooms in Texas requires essentially the same skills as identifying mushrooms anywhere across the world. All you really need is an interest in the flora of your region and a willingness to walk around in nature. Mushrooms usually come up during rainy season, so prepare to get a little soggy. Whether you are interested in tasty morels and chantrels or just want to get into the hobby of mushroom hunting, plenty of treasures can be found in the state of Texas.

After you've found an interesting sample, note the surrounding area. Is it growing on the ground, on a dead tree, a live one or up in the air? What kind of area are you in? What time of year is it? Take notes on all the environmental conditions around. If it is growing on wood, pay special attention to the state of decay, whether it has bark, how near to the roots it was and whether it was on a branch or a log.

Collect your samples. Use the knife to dig up the area around the mushroom so you can get a nice, clean, complete sample. If there are a few, try to collect samples showing all the stages of that mushroom's life; small ones that have just appeared, mature ones and older dead ones. Put the samples into your wax or paper bags. Avoid bruising or destroying them.

Take the specimens home. It's much easier if you do your identification in the comfort of your home, rather than out in the bush. Take all your samples home and lay them out so that they are easy to look at and handle.

Refer to your mushroom guides. You can find books on both North American and Texas mushrooms. Quite a few resources are available online as well.

Identify what the cap is like; what color, shape and size. Note the height, color and texture of the stalk. Bruise it a little and note what color it turns. Look under the cap to see if it has "gills," small ridges running from the outside to the inside. Narrow down your identification based on these observations.

Things Needed

  • All weather clothing
  • Pocket knife
  • Wax or brown paper bags
  • Mushroom field guide
  • Pen and notebook

Tip

Quite a few mushroom clubs operate across the United States and in Texas specifically. If you are new to the game, consider joining one.

Warning

Never eat a wild mushroom until you are absolutely positive that it is edible. Many poisonous mushrooms thrive in the world. Be confident in your identification skills before trying any that you've harvested.

About the Author

Darby Stevenson began writing in 1997 for his high-school newspaper, the "Alsea Valley Voice," which won him statewide awards for Best Feature Article and Best Personality Interview. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from the University of Oregon.