There are about 10,000 fungal species from all of North America that have been identified and described. Roughly 10 to 20% of the mushroom species are edible, 5% have medicinal properties, 20% can make you sick, and about 1% are known as deadly.
Before heading out to hunt, take a moment to learn some important details that will make your experience enjoyable and risk-free. The best advice you can get during wild edible mushroom foraging in Oregon is to approach with absolute caution. There are very many species in the world and it is easy to confuse edible with poisonous ones.
The golden rule of thumb for mushroom collecting is to avoid anything suspicious and to have an expert on hand to confirm that your basket isn’t full of deadly look-alikes. It is wise to use a few field guides to cross-reference.
Check Mushroom Safety Guide for more information.
Popular Wild Edible Mushrooms in Oregon
Boletus is the safest wild edible mushroom for the novices. These mushrooms are easy to identify by their appearance and spongy-like surface underside of the cap. Boletus is a broad species of mushrooms that contain many edible species and only a few poisonous or bitter.
King Boletus (Boletus Edulis)
The Italian name is Porcini. This is one of the best edible mushrooms that have a meaty texture, a great aroma, and taste. They are excellent for drying, sautéing, or frying.
Cap: light-brown, hemispherical, 2-12 inches (5-30 cm) wide.
Pores: white to greenish yellow, small, circular, long tubes.
Steam: white to light-brown.
Habitat: coniferous, deciduous forests if there has been enough rain. The Cascade Mountains, sandy area of the U.S. Pacific Coast.
Season: spring, summer, and fall.
Slippery Jack (Suillus Luteus)
A great wild edible mushroom with slight aroma and excellent taste. The slimy skin should be removed before cooking. They are good for pickling, preserving, or sautéing.
Cap: yellow-brown to red-brown, sticky when moist, hemispherical to flat, 2-5 inches (5-12 cm) wide. Whitish to yellow pores, darkening with age, not changing color where bruised.
Pores: whitish to yellow, small and round, darkening with age.
Steam: whitish to pale yellow, membranous ring, yellow to brown glandular dots above the ring, 1-5 inches (3-12 cm) long.
Habitat: coniferous forest and lawns, plentiful in pine forests.
Season: summer and fall.
Zeller's Boletus (Boletus Zelleri)
A high edible quality with slight odor and delicious taste. Similar to Boletus Edulis, they are excellent for drying, sautéing, or frying.
Cap: rounded 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) wide, dark reddish brown to black with reddish margin, not changing color where bruised.
Pores: olive-yellow to dark yellow, turning to blue when bruised.
Steam: radish to yellow streaked with red, dry, white or yellowish at the base, 2-5 inches (4-12 cm) in height.
Habitat: Douglas Fir forests in Oregon and Washington.
Season: late summer and fall.
Caution. Do not collect Boletus with red pores. Mushrooms like Satan's, Alice Eastwood, Frost's boletus are easily recognizable by their pores and primary red color in the appearance.
Chanterelles (Cantharellus Cibarius)
Cantharellus in Latin means "little drinking cup". One of the most popular species of edible mushrooms all over the world, chanterelle tends to be the most difficult fungi to cultivate. Highly-prized wild-picked chanterelles are exported worldwide. This delicious but expensive mushrooms can be found in supermarkets and farm-stores as well as in the forests nearby for free. The beautifully colored funnel-shaped fungi are abundant in the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon.
They are excellent for pickling, preserving, stir-frying, drying, or sautéing.
Hedgehog (Dentinum Repandum)
Hedgehog, also known as the sweet tooth, sometimes large, the color of the cap could be yellow, orange, or brown. This is easily recognized by light-brown or orange tooth-like spines instead of gills or tubes and appears to be one of the safest species for the beginners. Hedgehog could not be confused with any poisonous mushrooms and is considered as good as chanterelle. They are great for sautéing, frying, or drying.
Cap: irregular, often depressed, yellow, orange, or brown, 2-6 inches (5-15 cm) wide.
An underside of Cap: tooth-like spines up to 6 mm long, cream or orange colored.
Steam: solid, irregular, short, thick.
Habitat: coniferous, deciduous forests.
Delicious Milky Cap (Lactarius Deliciosus)
"Milky Cap" is a reference to the white milk that is exuded when the fungus is broken or cut. Delicious Lactarius has been eaten for many hundreds of years and is now very popular in China, Japan, West and East Europe. Can be grilled or preserved.
Cap: depressed in the center, orange, zoned with darker orange, 2-6 inches (5-15 cm) wide, staining green when mature.
Gills: orange, regular, exuding milk when cut, staining green with age.
Steam: orange, short, stout, 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) long.
Habitat: open grassy areas in coniferous, deciduous forests.
Season: late summer to fall.
Caution. May be confused with poisonous Red Milky Cap (brick red color) or Wooly Lactarius (white to pale cap with darker center).
Lobster (Hypomyces Lactifluorum)
Not really a mushroom, but a parasitic mold Hypomyces Lactifluorum attacks and grows on mushrooms such as Russula Brevipes and Lactarius Piperatus. The mold makes the mushrooms malformed and totally changes their appearance. The surface of the mushrooms becomes bright orange or reddish purple.
Technically Hypomyces Lactifluorum only parasitizes Russulas and Lactarius species, improving the taste and aroma of the mushrooms.
Lobster mushroom has firm meaty texture and fish odor can be sautéed.
Habitat: widespread in coniferous forests.
Season: summer through fall
Caution. Some guidebooks state that the host mushroom can be poisonous, making Lobster mushrooms toxic. But other sources assert that a chance that Hypomyces Lactifluorum attacks any other species is slim enough.
Black and White Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum and Tuber Gibbosum)
Oregon black and white truffles are similar to the edible and extremely costly European truffles. This most expensive food in the world spurs growing interest in Northwest America for truffles hunting. Truffles cost in Oregon is $300-500 per pound approximately.
Truffle is a fruiting body about 0.5-2 inches wide, shaped like a small potato, and has an excellent aroma and rich taste.
Truffles hunters use trained dogs to smell out truffles.
Habitat: mixed forests, oak woods, under Douglas fir, northwest America.
Season: late fall to spring.
Morels (Morchella Esculenta)
Morels are among the most highly prized mushrooms. There are various varieties of forms and colors of the edible morels. They are spongy and have a conical appearance. Morels are completely hollow inside. They are great when dried and sautéed.
Cap: conned-shaped, rounded top, covered with dip pits, edges between pits running irregularly, pale brown to grayish brown, 2-4 inches (5- 10 cm) long and 1-2 inches (2- 5 cm) wide.
Steam: strong, hollow, pale, enlarged at base, 2- 3 inches (5- 8 cm) long.
Habitat: open deciduous forests, orchards, gardens, burns.
Season. April, May, and June.
Caution. Do not confuse with toxic False Morels.
Wild edible mushroom hunting is a great hobby that provides great satisfaction. If you know what to pick, mushrooms can be an excellent source of nutrition for the whole family. If it’s your first time eating them, take it slow so you are sure that the delicacy is good for you. You should also follow the rules of mushroom harvesting in Oregon not only for your safety but so as not to deplete the important resource.
Disclaimer: This is not an official guide to wild mushroom foraging. Please do your own research, be sure to practice with a mushroom's expert before you pick up and consume any wild mushrooms.