9 Common Mushrooms Found in South Dakota! (2024)

What kind of mushroom did I find in South Dakota?

Types of mushrooms in South Dakota

If you spend time outside, you’ve probably asked this question at least once. Mushrooms are incredibly common in South Dakota, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Believe it or not, there are THOUSANDS of different types of mushrooms that live in South Dakota. Since it would be nearly impossible to write about them all, I focused on the most common types that are seen.

IMPORTANT: You should NEVER eat a mushroom you find. There are many poisonous types, and some species will kill you. So stay safe, and don’t eat any wild mushrooms unless you are with a mycologist (mushroom expert)!

9 COMMON MUSHROOMS in South Dakota:


#1. Turkey-tail Mushroom

  • Trametes versicolor

Types of mushrooms in South Dakota

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Caps are up to 8 cm (3 in) long and 5 cm (2 in) wide.
  • Rings of different colors decorate the tops, ranging from black to shades of brown and white.
  • They often grow in a stacked pattern, which makes them look like roof tiles.

This species is one of the most common mushrooms in South Dakota!

Turkey-tail typically grows on logs of deciduous trees. It’s found in mature forests where dead trees on the forest floor make a perfect environment for this fungus.

This multicolored fungus is easy to spot thanks to the concentric rings of different colors on its caps. The growing pattern of Turkey-tail is also recognizable by the way it grows in a stacked pattern that looks like roofing tiles.

Like many mushrooms, Turkey-tail is used in Eastern medicine and as an herbal supplement. However, wild specimens should NOT be consumed or handled, and supplements containing this mushroom are not FDA-approved.


#2. Fly Agaric

  • Amanita muscaria

Types of mushrooms in South Dakota

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Caps are 8–20 cm (3–8 in) in diameter.
  • The stalks are 5–20 cm (2–8 in) tall.
  • These mushrooms have the typical looks of a “toadstool” with a bright white stalk and red, white-spotted cap.

I think this is the CUTEST mushroom in South Dakota! 🙂

Fly Agaric looks just like the mushrooms found in Mario video games.

These mushrooms are considered toadstools, which are usually poisonous to humans. Fly Agaric is no exception. This fungus can cause hallucinations, low blood pressure, nausea, loss of balance, and in rare cases, death. If you ingest it, you should seek medical treatment immediately.

Luckily, Fly Agaric is a very conspicuous fungus in its fully-grown form. However, young mushrooms can be mistaken for other edible types, so you should steer clear of eating any wild mushrooms.


#3. Dryad’s Saddle

  • Cerioporus squamosus

Types of mushrooms in South Dakota

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The cap is 8–30 cm (3–12 inches) across and up to 10 cm (4 in) thick.
  • It has a thick stem, and the cap is generally white or off-white with brown scales on top.
  • They grow in clusters of up to three mushrooms stacked on top of one another like tiles.

Look for this mushroom in South Dakota near fallen trees.

Dryad’s Saddle is typically most abundant in spring. If you’re looking for Morel mushrooms, you may find this variety since their fruiting periods (when the fungus produces an above-ground mushroom) are about the same.

This species is important in forest ecosystems because it helps to decompose dead trees, creating new rich soil. However, it occasionally becomes a parasite on living trees as well.

Although Dryad’s Saddle is considered nonpoisonous, it can easily be confused with other deadly mushrooms. Unless you have experience with wild mushrooms, you should never eat or handle one.


#4. Chicken of the Woods

  • Laetiporus sulphureus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The shelf-like caps are 5-60 cm (2-23.5 in) across and up to 4 cm (1.5 in) thick.
  • Their coloring is a strikingly bright yellow, sometimes with an orange or pink center.
  • They grow in a stacked shelf pattern of fan-shaped caps on the sides of trees.

Chicken of the Woods grows on a variety of hardwood trees. Usually, it thrives on dead trees, although it occasionally parasitizes mature living trees.

Many people eat this mushroom in South Dakota and Europe.

However, you should never eat this mushroom if you found it in the wild. Uncooked, it can cause an upset stomach and is unpleasant in texture. Plus, it can be confused with other poisonous varieties that can cause unpleasant symptoms or even permanent injury and death.

Unfortunately, it’s often confused with Laetiporus huroniensis, a poisonous mushroom that causes fever and vomiting. It’s best to purchase your Chicken of the Woods mushrooms from an expert forager and leave wild specimens alone!


#5. Oyster Mushrooms

  • Pleurotus ostreatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The caps are 2–30 cm (0.8–12 in) wide.
  • They are fan-shaped with thick stalks and grow in a stacked pattern or irregular clusters.
  • Their coloring is often white or off-white, sometimes with a light purple or gray wash.

You can find Oyster Mushrooms in South Dakota both in the wild and on farms.

These mushrooms are often used as food and are commercially farmed worldwide. In fact, they were first cultivated in Germany during World War I to mitigate hunger because of rationing. As a result, you can find these mushrooms in most grocery stores, so eat those instead of a wild variety!

Something most people don’t know is that Oyster Mushrooms are carnivorous! This species eats nematodes that you might know as roundworms. They paralyze and consume the nematodes as a source of protein and nitrogen. Additionally, Oyster Mushrooms help to decay dead trees.

Pearl Oyster Mushrooms are also dried and used as a leather-like material or compressed into a wood substitute to make furniture. Mycelium, which is the fiber that gives Oyster Mushrooms their structure, is incredibly strong and resilient. Check out this page for more info!


#6. Shaggy Mane

  • Coprinus comatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The caps are 4–8 cm (1.63.1 in) wide and 6–20 cm (2.3–8 in) tall.
  • Their coloring is white when they first emerge, slowly turning black as their scales lift.
  • These mushrooms grow directly from the ground as single caps or clusters.

It’s easy to see how Shaggy Mane Mushrooms in South Dakota got their name!

These tall, slender mushrooms have distinctive scales that make them look like they’re covered in shaggy hair. They often grow in suburban yards or fields straight from the ground.

Shaggy Manes definitely have some “yuck” factors. They’re called Ink Caps because their black gills liquefy and leak down the mushroom to release its spores. Additionally, the entire mushroom will “auto-decay,” digesting itself into a dark liquid within hours of being picked.

Shaggy Manes look very similar to poisonous mushrooms that are found in South Dakota. Leave these mushrooms where you found them, and never eat them!


#7. Mica Cap

  • Coprinellus micaceus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The bell-shaped caps are 1–2.5 cm (.5–1 in) in diameter when new and expand up to 5 cm (2 in) as they open.
  • These mushrooms grow in dense clusters of bell-shaped caps with long, thin stems. The caps have grooves that run vertically, giving them the appearance of a head of straight hair.
  • Their coloring is grayish brown.

This unassuming mushroom has a creepy talent – it can self-destruct! Mica Cap autodigests within a few hours of being picked, meaning its flesh turns from a spongy white structure into an inky black liquid. Yuck!

Mica Cap is usually found in clusters at the base of deciduous trees in mature forests. This mushroom’s less-than-appetizing qualities are just one reason I recommend never eating wild mushrooms. Additionally, there’s a high likelihood of ingesting a poisonous mushroom by mistake.

If you see Mica Cap in the wild, it’s best to take a picture of the fascinating clusters and then leave it be. After all, if you pick it, you’re likely to be covered in gross black goo!


#8. Orange Jelly Spot

  • Dacrymyces chrysospermus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Complex groups of caps grow up to 6 cm (2.4 in) across.
  • The coloring is vibrant orange-yellow.
  • This fungus has an irregular, wavy shape and often looks like goop stuck to a tree.

Orange Jelly Spot isn’t technically a mushroom in South Dakota!

Even though it looks like a mushroom, this species is just a fungus. As you can see, it gets its name from its unusual shape and color, which completely differs from what most people picture in a mushroom. In fact, it looks more like a bright orange brain than anything else! Orange Jelly Spot also has a jelly-like, wobbly texture.

You can find this strange fungus on dead conifer trees like pine and spruce. It was originally discovered in New England but has a worldwide distribution! Most people probably go their whole lives without knowing this oddity exists, but if you keep an eye out in the woods, you’re likely to find it.


#9. Candleflame Lichen

  • Candelaria concolor
By bjoerns – iNauralist, via Wikipedia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Single lobes of this lichen are less than 1 cm (0.4 in) wide, but they can cover enormous surface areas, including entire trees.
  • The coloring is golden yellow to yellow-green.
  • This lichen has a branch-like appearance, similar in shape to coral.

Candleflame Lichen is technically NOT a mushroom in South Dakota.

Instead, lichens are complex organisms that involve a symbiotic relationship between fungus and algae. The mutually beneficial relationship allows lichens to survive in habitats that would kill fungi and algae independently.

For example, Candleflame Lichen can be found anywhere from arid deserts to wet conifer forests. It’s one of the most widespread lichens in the world! Look for this lichen on trees, where it attaches to tree bark and slowly spreads.


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  1. I saw that you listed Amanita muscaria for the state. This is the first I’ve heard that. I study the growth patterns of this species and wondered… Did you observe it in SD first-hand? Of so: What was the habitat and region (under Pine in Black Hills, for example)? What was the variation (Red or yellow for example)? How many did you see; many or just a few?