For a few weeks beginning in mid-April, Harmonie State Park is a popular destination for hunting Morel mushrooms. Easily identifiable, Morels are one of the safest wild mushrooms to hunt and eat.
Besides Morels, the park is home to several other edible or medicinal species, including Oyster, Turkey Tail, Chicken of the Woods, Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, Lion’s Mane, and Maitake, also known as Hen of the Woods. Morels and chanterelles are particularly prized for their flavor; Oyster mushrooms and Chicken of the Woods have tastes similar to their names. Maitake mushrooms taste good, but are better known for their medicinal properties. Legitimate medical studies have found them to be helpful in regulating diabetes and fighting cancers.
Beyond the edible and medicinal, the park is home to countless other species of mushrooms, many of which are dangerous, so it is essential to have expert guidance before eating any wild mushroom.
“People shouldn’t just go out in the woods and eat mushrooms,” says local expert David Hazlett, who organizes the annual Tellum’ All Mushroom Foray & Fest, a mushroom hunting and educational event in which local experts give talks and lead forays through the woods.
“There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters,” he says, “but there aren’t a lot of old, bold mushroom hunters.”
But even if you have no interest in eating wild mushrooms, they are a very beautiful, interesting life form, and well worth hunting for photographs or the simple enjoyment of seeing something different and beautiful.
Harmonie State Park
3451 Harmonie State Park Road
New Harmony, Indiana 47631