The Morel, Morchella sp.
The Morel is perhaps one of the most sought-after mushrooms in the world. It is sold in continental markets and used extensively in fine cuisine in restaurants around the world. A very distinctive mushroom, it is an ascomycete, that lacks gills and spreads it's spores by firing them forcefully from it's pitted, ridged and honeycombed cap. There are generally only three types of Morel to search for in the UK - the Common Morel, Morchella Vulgaris, the Yellow Morel, Morchella esculenta, and the Black Morel, Morchella importuna, which grows almost exclusively in urban areas in wood chip.
Morels are also one of the most elusive of all edible mushrooms, and it is very difficult to accurately predict where they'll pop up! Many people will tell you that they prefer Elms, Pines, Oaks or Ash, Hedgerows, woodland edges, grasslands or even gravel, sand dunes, or supermarket car parks! Roger Phillips, the Mushroom Guru, claims that they will appear, almost magically, in upland Ash woods where Dog's Mercury grows. Others still, insist that they grow on the banks of rivers, or will arrive when the soil temperature reaches 45 degrees fahrenheit, precisely two days after rain.
I like to think that the Morel, much like the fabled wand in Harry Potter, will choose it's own owner when it's good and ready, and when it's your turn, it'll pop up to surprise you when you least expect it! Rather than spending twenty years desperately trying to find one, be in the moment, enjoy the journey, and be open to the supernatural power that this mushroom clearly posseses. After all, the best stories are the ones with a Morel at the end!
And don't forget to put your lottery on if you do come across one.
🌳 Deciduous Woodland
🌲 Coniferous Woodland
🐑 Grassland, including paddocks, fields and meadows.
🏡 Urban Green Spaces, including scrubland, parks and gardens.
🚜 Hedgerows, including field edges.
🛒 Black Morels can often be found in the landscaped carparks of supermarkets.
🌸 Between March and May
📈 Grows singly, or in small groups.
🍄 Round or conical, hollow and labyrinthian. The cap of the morel is a wonderful maze of pitted, irregular ridges, making it look somewhat like a brain. Yellow Morels tend to have a more regular honeycombed head, and the Black Morel tends to have more linear pits running down the cap. It is highly variable though, so size and pattern can vary greatly.
Common Morel caps are grey-brown in colour, turning grey-gold with age.
Yellow Morel caps are yellow in colour, turning yellow-brown with age.
Black Morels caps are grey-brown, turning black with age.
⚛️ No gills. This mushroom is an Ascomycete mushroom that shoots it's spores from the flesh of the cap.
♊️ Short, white, bulbous at the base. Shaped a little like an elephant's foot. The stem is usually hollow with irregular ridges running vertically along it's length.
⚪️ Thin, and white inside.
Aroma / Taste
👃 Smells pleasantly mushroomy.
👅 Delicious, mushroomy flavour.
😋 A choice edible mushroom.
🔮 ID Difficulty - Sorcerer
👀 This is a very distinctive mushroom. The round-conical honeycomb-like, pitted cap is the key identifying feature.
👀 The completely hollow cap and stem are also key identifying features.
❓ Although Easy to ID, this is perhaps one of the most elusive of all mushrooms and there appears to be no rhyme or reason to it's appearance. If you happen to find one or more of these magical, mysterious mushrooms, consider yourself extremely lucky and get your application to Hogwarts in as soon as possible!
⛔️ Morels are midly toxic when raw, causing stomach upsets in some people. They must therefore be thoroughly cooked before eating.
⛔️ This mushroom could be confused with the toxic Fasle Morel, Gyromitra esculenta.
☠️ The False Morel, Gyromitra esculenta, is a springtime mushroom that has a vaguely similar cap to the morel and a white/cream stem. The main differences are in the cap. The surface of the Fasle Morel cap is more of a series of twisting, folded lobes or tubes, looking a little like a mass of worms, rather than the pitted honeycombed cap of a true Morel. When cut open, the Fasle morel also has a series of cavities in the cap, rather than being mostly hollow like the Morel. The false morel is often more orange-brown in colour.
✅ The caps of the true Morels and False Morels are quite different in form and so it should be quite easy to identify and differentiate the two. Always look at a cross section of a morel to ensure it is mostly hollow throughout.
🍄 Fungi - Used in mushroom recipes.