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Welcome to the fascinating world of South Florida's mushrooms! Whether you're an experienced forager or a curious beginner, the Sunshine State offers a unique array of mushrooms to discover. In this guide, we'll explore the diverse types of mushrooms you can find in South Florida, tips for safe foraging of edible species, and some key facts to enhance your mushroom hunting adventure.

Never eat a mushroom unless you can 100% identify it.

Use multiple sources and consult experts if needed.

Types of Mushrooms in South Florida

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Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo). Alan Rockefeller, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo)

Known for its striking blue color, this mushroom bleeds a deep blue milk when cut.

Habitat: Commonly found in oak or pine forests, though sightings in South Florida are rare.

Season: Mid to late August through November.

Notes: Its unique color makes it easy to identify. While I haven't seen many myself, other Floridians report finding them on their properties.

Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius)

These mushrooms have a funnel-shaped cap and a fruity fragrance.

Habitat: Typically found in hardwood forests, especially in damp areas.

Season: July to early fall.

Notes: Their vibrant color and distinct aroma make them a favorite among mushroom enthusiasts.

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus). Andrew C, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)

Bright yellow to orange, resembling chicken in texture and taste.

Habitat: Grows on dead or dying hardwood trees.

Season: August to early winter.

Notes: Easily identifiable due to its shelf-like growth and vivid coloration.

Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum). Paul Asman, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)

White, round, and warty, these mushrooms are soft like marshmallows when young.

Habitat: Found in woodlands and grasslands.

Season: Year-round, but primarily summer to early winter.

Notes: Often found in clusters and known for releasing spores when mature.

King Bolete (Boletus edulis). Bernard Spragg. NZ from Christchurch, New Zealand, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

King Bolete (Boletus edulis)

Also known as porcini, this mushroom has a convex cap and sponge-like undercap.

Habitat: Hardwood forests, especially near oak.

Season: August to October.

Notes: A prized find for mushroom enthusiasts due to its culinary value.

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus). Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Delicate mushrooms that grow in clumps, often in various colors such as steel blue, golden, or pink.

Habitat: Found on decaying hardwood trees.

Season: Year-round, particularly after rainfall.

Notes: Versatile in cooking, great for stir-fries and soups.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). rappman, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

This mushroom has a unique, shaggy appearance and a mild flavor.

Habitat: Grows on hardwood trees, particularly in older forests.

Season: Late summer to fall.

Notes: Known for its potential neuroprotective benefits.

Morels (Morchella spp.). Heinz Bunse, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Morels (Morchella spp.)

Honeycomb-like appearance with a rich, earthy flavor.

Habitat: Typically found in disturbed soils, such as after fires or near dying trees.

Season: Spring to early summer.

Notes: Highly prized for culinary uses.

Wood Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae). Dmitry Brant, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wood Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae)

Dark brown, jelly-like mushrooms that resemble an ear.

Habitat: Commonly found on decaying hardwood logs.

Season: Year-round.

Notes: Frequently used in Asian cuisine.

Stinkhorns (Phallaceae family). zen (talk) (Uploads), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stinkhorns (Phallaceae family)

Notable for their foul odor, which attracts insects.

Habitat: Often found in mulch or decaying wood.

Season: Year-round.

Notes: Recognized by their distinctive, phallic shape and strong smell.

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor). Andrew C, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Thin, fan-shaped mushrooms with concentric color zones resembling a turkey's tail.

Habitat: Found on decaying hardwood logs.

Season: Year-round.

Notes: Valued for its medicinal properties, including immune support.

Artist's Conk (Ganoderma applanatum). Jessica Baker, Photo taken in West Palm Beach, Florida

Artist's Conk (Ganoderma applanatum)

Large, woody mushroom with a white underside that bruises brown.

Habitat: Found on decaying hardwood logs and stumps.

Season: Year-round.

Notes: Used by artists to create intricate designs on the white pore surface.

Russulas (Russula spp.). Jessica Baker, Photo taken in Stuart, Florida

Russulas (Russula spp.)

Brightly colored caps ranging from red to green, with white gills and a brittle texture.

Habitat: Found in various forest types, especially under hardwoods.

Season: Summer to fall.

Notes: Known for their brittle gills.

Foraging Tips

Safety First 

Identification: Never eat a mushroom unless you can 100% identify it. Use multiple sources and consult experts if needed.

Permits: Obtain a Free Use permit from the local ranger district for harvesting mushrooms in national forests. Many counties in South Florida DO NOT permit foraging in public parks/lands, so make sure to consult county ordinances.

Environment: Ensure you're foraging in areas where it is legal and safe to do so. Respect the natural habitat and avoid overharvesting.

Tools for Foraging

Pocketknife: Useful for cutting mushrooms and checking their undersides.

Basket: A mesh or wicker basket allows spores to spread as you walk.

Field Guide: Carry a reliable mushroom identification guide specific to Florida or the Southeast U.S.

Exploring the world of mushrooms in Florida is a rewarding adventure that combines nature appreciation with the potential for scientific discovery. The diverse range of mushrooms you can find here adds to the rich biodiversity of the region. Always prioritize safety and education, and enjoy the rich fungal diversity that Florida has to offer.

We'd love to hear from you! Share which mushrooms you've found in your area and let us know if you've seen any of the mushrooms listed here in your travels throughout South Florida.

Recommended Reading on Fungi in the Southeast

For those interested in learning more about fungi, check out these recommended books (affiliate links, we earn from qualifying purchases):

Where to next?

Exploring Bahia Honda State Park
Top 10 Shelling Beaches in Palm Beach County
Common Mushrooms Found in South Florida
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