First Morels of 2010

Morels morels morels! Just had to get that out of my system.

This past weekend Eliza, Evan, and I spent almost all day on Saturday (April 3rd) forging for morels and our efforts definitely paid off.  All together we harvested about 200 of the delightful fungi throughout the day.  That amount is far more than Evan and I found throughout the entire morel season last year.  It was all terribly exciting.  Furthermore, it let us know that the morels are out and so it has really put us in gear for finding more.

There was some debate as to what kind of morels we had found, though it seems clear that there were two distinct varieties.  The main debate lay in regards to the scientific terminology (specifically which were Morchella esculenta and which were M. deliciosa). Considering that even our various mushroom guides seem to have disagreement on this matter I decided to stick to common names.  We found Tulip morels and White/Yellow morels.

All were found in forests with large old Tulip trees and relatively loose sandy soil and nearby running water.  They were EXTREMELY HARD TO SEE (in most cases).  To find morels you really seem to have to move slowly and look around very carefully. There were a number of occasions where one of us would find a morel and as we’d kneel down to look around for others we’d notice one or two more right by our feet or just a short way off.  In the last place we stopped in the day the three of us probably collected about fifty plus morels in an area of no more than twenty square feet, just crouching down and moving from one find to the next.  Anyway, here are some pictures (kindly taken by Eliza throughout the day).

Morels

Two morels, quite well hidden on the ground.

Morels in hand

A look at some of the different appearance and varieties of morels we found.

Morels on a sandy bank

Along this sandy stream bank, at the first location where we found any morels, we must have easily gathered three dozen or so large white morels. It was absolutely amazing.

Gregarious morel clump

Some more of the white/yellow morels in a small gregarious clump.

Morel and Sweetgum ball

A tulip morel next to a sweetgum ball. Though they certainly look different in this picture, out in the woods the sweetgum balls can be the bane of a morel forger.

200 morels

The three of us with our harvest. We were so excited about the amount of this find.

Besides the fact that they taste delicious and offer a good challenge in finding, I think that one of the reasons why people like morel hunting is because morels happen to be one of the only mushrooms out around this time of year (whereas in summer and fall you can find hundreds of different species of fungi).  That being said I was able to find a few other random fungi throughout the day:

Club fungi

Some club fungi, most likely Clavariadelphus americanus because they were near oaks.

oyster mushrooms

Some oyster mushrooms which were found growing out of a rotting log.

Little Brown Mushrooms

There were a good number of what I'd put in the "little brown mushrooms" (LBMs) category. Small, gilled, and seemingly pretty difficult to identify.

Morel season marks the beginning of the rest of the mushroom forging and identifying year which makes me really excited. Can’t wait to go out and find some more.  As a note, morels are one of the easier to identify edible mushrooms, stemming from their very unique appearance (even poisonous false morels do not look all that similar).  That being said I always feel obliged to offer the serious warning of not eating any wild mushrooms without very careful identification.  All of the wild mushrooms I have tried, I have first checked through a number of guides, gotten feedback from known mushroom experts such as Tradd Cotter, and done extensive IDing pracitice by checking spore prints, bruising, gill structures, etc. If there is any doubt about a specific find I simply do not eat it. With this caution I have not gotten sick from eating wild mushrooms at all. Know your common poisonous mushrooms and follow the simple practice of not eating anything that you are not 100% sure about.  Do careful identification.  If you do all that you will be fine and get to enjoy some fun fungi.  The alternative is just not worth the potential risk.

So if you live in South Carolina now seems to be the time to be finding morels.  If you are so inclined why not get outdoors and give it a bit of a try.  It is a ton of fun!

~ by Nathaniel on April 5, 2010.

6 Responses to “First Morels of 2010”

  1. YAYYYYY!!!! *Hand flailing*

    • I know! So much fun. Sure we might have ended up exhausted by the end of the day but I say that the exhaustion was entirely worth it.

  2. Evan and I went out again yesterday and found only a few. I think maybe its too early in Greenville County, and also you guys just hit paydirt in a lucky spot. We’re going to keep trying though!

    • Yeah, I say not stopping looking until we are only finding dry crispy husks of morels and by then it’ll probably be close to the time to move on to other mushrooms anyways.

  3. That picture of all the large morels poking out of the embankment still makes me a little giddy.

    • Definitely. If we could just find a few more spots like that then I will be really really excited about the whole season.

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