If you live in Colorado or are visiting the state, then knowing where to find edible mushrooms can be useful if you are a mushroom enthusiast. Colorado has experienced some higher temperatures in recent years, which does put forests in danger of fires.
That being said, while mushrooms in Colorado love both heat and moisture, fires are not good for mushrooms. But, there are still plenty around and you need to know which ones are edible. So, let’s take a look!
A List Of Edible Mushrooms In Colorado
There are many mushrooms that grow around Colorado in the late summer and fall. Some of them grow quite high up and are easy to identify. Always be smart as while these are edible, always make sure you are 100% that the mushroom you are picking is edible.
Some mushrooms have counterparts that look alike but can result in illness if ingested. Just practice reasonable caution.
Here are my top 4 edible mushrooms you can find in Colorado:
1. The Porcini (Rubriceps/ Boletus Edulis)
These mushrooms often grow around the edges of conifer forests and look like a red-brown hamburger burn flush on the forest floor. Some even grow at the base of trees.
King Boletes, as they are often known, will usually fruit about July and grow throughout August or even September.
You can find many boletes in Colorado, but there are only a few that are edible. All boletes have pores under their cap and they are edible. However, they do have a look-alike, which is the Leccinum Insigne. They grow near conifer/aspen forests and stain a blue color when you cut them, but they also have black scabers on the stem.
These are often eaten in Europe, but a few people do report some stomach upset, although, this has never happened to me. I still prefer to stick to Porcini’s since they are nutty, earthy, and firm.
2. Chantrelle (Cantharellus Cibarius)
These mushrooms are a bright yellow color and smell like apricots. They grow in places similar to porcinis, but they are often found around the moister mossy areas of conifer forests. They can also be found around fallen trees, streams, and drainage. Due to their bright color, they are also easy to spot.
They grow in clusters, so are great to pick. They are distinguishable by their folds, but these are not true gills. Be cautious though as there is an orange look-alike which is very poisonous, and does have true gills. It is best to distinguish these mushrooms via true or untrue gills.
Chanterelles are delicious and fruity, just make sure you actually do pick the right ones!
3. Hawks Wing (Sarcodon Imbricatus)
This is a great mushroom. It is also great for beginners as it is so easy to identify and it has no look-alikes that are poisonous!
This mushroom is found around the same area as both previously mentioned mushrooms as well!
It has a pattern on its cap like that of a Hawk’s wing, hence the name, but the teeth on its base make it very distinguishable. Hawks Wing can be bitter so it is not for everyone. However, if you pick the young ones and cook them a bit longer, the bitterness will not be noticed.
If cooked the right way it can even taste like a portabella!
4. The Delicious Milky Cap Mushroom (Lactarius Deliciousus)
This mushroom is rather gross-looking but it is very tasty. These mushrooms also grow in locations similar to the others already noted. However, they also have true gills.
These mushrooms are very easy to identify, although they are orange and they are plenty of orange mushrooms out there. Yet, their skin is a dull blue/green to it. Think of a yellow/orange colored mushroom with blue acne.
These mushrooms are delicious but are best when picked young and fresh
What Are The Best Edible Mushrooms In Colorado?
The Porcini and the Chanterelles mushrooms are considered to be the best edible mushrooms you can find in the state of Colorado. While they may not be the only ones, they are the two that foragers get the most excited about.
When the Porcini is sprouting and available it is usually available in droves. Alternatively, the Chanterelles is a delicious and versatile mushroom that can be used in many ways.
Can You Tell If A Mushroom Is Edible?
Sadly there is no totally fool-proof way of being able to tell if a mushroom is potentially toxic or edible. The only way you can be as sure as possible is through properly educating yourself on the mushrooms in the area, and perhaps taking a guide with you.
Thankfully, in Colorado, a majority of the available edible mushrooms are quite easy to identify. That being said, there are some mushrooms that are look-alikes that can make some people sick. So, it is simply best to ensure you are 100% on point with identifying the mushroom.
There are even mushroom identification classes in Colorado, or online, to help you know which are safe, and which are not!
Can You Forage Mushrooms In Colorado?
Foraging is much like any other outdoor hobby, and with Colorado being home to many state parks and national parks, each place has its own rules.
This means that if you ask is foraging legal in Colorado? It really depends. Every national, state, or local space will have their own set of rules pertaining to foraging. In some places, you may even require a permit.
The best thing to do is contact the local authority for that space and ask if you are allowed to forage and if so, what regulations are in place.
You should also remember that if you do not get permission then you should not forage there, and never cross private land, even in the process of getting to public land to forage. It is best to be safe and respectful in your foraging hobby.
Just like any outdoor activity, foraging also comes with a ‘leave no trace’ practice. Don’t leave anything behind, pick up any garbage, and leave the land in a healthy condition. Never yank mushrooms from the ground, cut them off at the stem and leave some behind for others.