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Hunting Morel Mushrooms

How to Find Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushrooms are elusive to say the least! They are found in the woods, but the woods tend to be vast. It is best to have a good idea of where the mushrooms like to grow before you start looking for them. Plus, mushroom hunting is so much more fun when you actually find mushrooms! Here are a few tips on what to look for in the woods to know if morels are hiding out close by.

Morel Mushrooms Grow Near Dead Elm Trees

As you enter the woods, look for dead trees. Elm trees are best, but morel mushrooms can grow around any dead tree. The dead tree should be one that has died within the last year or so. Indications that the tree is dead include bark that is coming off of the sides of the tree and there is no new growth at the top of the tree. Some of these trees may have recently fallen on their sides. The tree should not be totally rotten or obviously dead for several years. Morels also grow along the roots of the dead trees. So, be sure to follow the roots of the dead tree as you look for them.

Morel mushrooms could be hiding near may apple plants.

Morel mushrooms could be hiding near may apple plants.

May Apple Plants and Leaves Usually Surround Morel Mushrooms

A really good indication that you are in morel mushroom territory is the growth of may apple plants. These plants accumulate in bunches usually around the same dead trees that morels like to grow under. If you notice may apple plants, you are getting close to morels!

Morel Mushrooms Have a Distinct Aroma

As you walk through the woods and begin to find morel mushrooms, be sure to notice the aroma. You can most easily smell the aroma when you are crouching on your knees in an area where mushrooms are growing. Get familiar with the scent by smelling your freshly picked mushrooms. Your nose can guide you in your hunt!

Morel Mushrooms Grow Best in Moist Ground

The ground you are walking on should feel spongy beneath your feet. Fresh rain within the past day or two really helps morel mushrooms to "pop." Moist ground is usually somewhat muddy, but not overly muddy. Leaves and other ground cover keep the ground moist in the areas where the mushrooms grow.

How to Pick Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushrooms should be picked from the base of the stem at ground level. You can either cut straight across the stem with a small knife or use your fingers to gently snap the mushroom stem. By using either method you will intentionally leave a small base of the mushroom with roots in the ground to secure mushroom growth for another year in that area!

Carry Picked Morel Mushrooms in a Mesh Bag to Allow Spores to Shake onto the Ground as You Walk

How to Carry Your Fresh Morel Mushrooms

All true morel mushroom hunters carry their prized mushrooms in a mesh bag of some type. Not only does this allow other hunters to see your awesome find, it also ensures that as you continue your hunt in the woods that mushroom spores that fall off of the mushrooms you carry are left in the woods to generate more growth in future years. Once you have tasted a morel mushroom you will understand why this is so important!

When to Find Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushroom season runs from early to mid April through mid June depending on where you live. The earlier your area experiences spring, the earlier morels will pop. The weather should be 60-70 degrees during the day with nights in the mid 40's. Soil temperatures of 50-60 degrees are perfect for morels.

As soon as springtime changes begin, start watching weather temperatures. You will want to go out early to find the first morels which are usually small and gray in color. We call these "little grays." These small gray morels can be the size of your smallest fingernail or up to about 3 inches tall.

Within a week or 10 days of finding little grays, get ready for the "big yellows." Big yellow morels are generally anywhere from 2-3 inches tall up to the size of a soda pop can. These are really great to hunt and eat!

Ready to Hunt Morel Mushrooms?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Morel mushroom season begins in
    • late April through May
    • early May and mid June
    • mid April to mid June
  2. For the best morel mushroom hunting day temperatures should be
    • 50 - 60 degrees
    • 60 - 70 degrees
    • 65 - 75 degrees
  3. When hunting morel mushrooms you should look for
    • may apple plants, dead elm tree, moist ground
    • moist ground, may apple plants, dead oak tree
    • packed ground, poison ivy plants, rotten trees

Answer Key

  1. mid April to mid June
  2. 60 - 70 degrees
  3. may apple plants, dead elm tree, moist ground

What Can You Cook with Morel Mushrooms?

There are many different ways to enjoy morels. Some hunters like to gather them early in the morning and add them to scrambled eggs for breakfast. Others enjoy them with a light dusting of flour and salt and fried in oil. Some use them in mushroom soups. And still others like them grilled or just lightly sauteed. The possibilities are endless!

How to Dress for Morel Mushroom Hunting

You will be hunting for morel mushrooms in the woods. So, it is best to be prepared for that environment. You will want to wear a long sleeved shirt, long pants and crew or knee high socks. Covering your arms and legs will prevent you from getting scratched by leaves, twigs and thorns as well as protect you from ticks, other insects and poison ivy and the like. A cap or hat is also a good idea to protect yourself from ticks.

Tuck your long sleeved shirt into your pants to prevent ticks from getting on your skin from underneath your shirt. Keep your long sleeves down to your wrists. Don't fold or push them up to your elbows. Tuck your pants into your socks to protect your ankles and legs from ticks on the ground.

As far as your shoes go, you definitely don't want to wear your best boots or tennis shoes for your hunt. If the climate is right for morel mushrooms, the ground will be moist and probably somewhat muddy. You will walk over streams and creeks. (I have walked out of my shoe on a muddy bank!) If you have an old pair of tennis shoes or boots use those for your hunting. Whatever you wear on your feet be sure it is comfortable. You will be walking for at least a couple of hours. The more mushrooms you find, the longer you will want to keep hunting!

Preventing Poison Ivy While Hunting Morel Mushrooms

The first great step to preventing a rash caused by poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac is to be able to know how to spot them. Look for vines that wind up around the barks of trees or grow in long sprawling vines through the grass. If you spot it, do not touch it!

  • Poison ivy usually grows with a pattern of 3 large wide round leaves but can have more. It grows up around the barks of trees or may be found growing through the grass along the ground.
  • Poison oak grows in clusters of 3 spear pointed leaves that look like the leaves of oak trees. It can have up to 7 leaves per cluster. It grows as a vine around trees or in the shape of a small shrub.
  • Poison sumac has 7 -13 leaves per cluster and grows as a small shrub or tree.

Prevent contact with poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac by dressing appropriately when you hunt morel mushrooms. Be sure your clothing covers your arms and legs to prevent accidental contact.

Contact with poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac can result in a painful skin rash. The rash usually develops within 8-48 hours after contact with the bush or vine. The skin of the affected area turns bright red and develops many small fluid filled blisters that may ooze. The rash subsides within 10 days - 3 weeks.

Treatment of rash caused by any of these three plants is relatively simple. It is important to wash the area completely with soap and water after contact to remove as much of the plant oil that causes the rash. Then, use cool baths, wet compresses and calamine lotion for comfort. If the rash develops many blisters that are oozing, see a doctor. You may need a medication for the rash.


Learn More About Morel Mushrooms

  • The Great Morel Home Page
    The Great Morel - the delightful delicious tasting mushroom and a joy to find. Resources on morel mushrooms, links, recipes and some humor!

Comments

Nadia Archuleta from Denver, Colorado on July 01, 2013:

I just discovered a great recipe for Vidalia onions that call for morel mushrooms. I suspect Colorado is not morel area, so I'll have to buy them - too bad because now I'd know how to find them! Thanks for sharing.

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 29, 2013:

prasetio30, Glad you gained some knowledge of one of the most delicious mushrooms around! Thanks for reading!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 29, 2013:

Very informative hub. Actually I had never heard about morel mushroom. So, I learn something new here. Thanks for writing and sharing with us. You got my vote. Take care!

Prasetio

Abdus Salam from Bangladesh on May 28, 2013:

Congratulations! your hub on hub of the day. Very informative and useful article. thanks for sharing..

Sneha Sunny from India on May 28, 2013:

This is a great hub, well deserved HOTD! Great presentation and tips. Useful, awesome and voted up! :)

Toy Tasting from Mumbai on May 28, 2013:

Hey Kansasyarn, this was a good and interesting read. Thank you for expanding my horizons on Morel mushrooms. Congratulations on HOTD, well deserved. cheers :)

Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 28, 2013:

Congrats o HOD. Well done!

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on May 28, 2013:

interesting Hub.

Lena Kovadlo from Staten Island, NY on May 28, 2013:

Question - how does one know if what they are seeing in the woods is really a morel mushroom and not something poisonous that may resemble a morel?

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 28, 2013:

wabash annie, Yes, I didn't mention chiggers or the little sticker burrs that we call "stick tights!" Lots to be ready for when you want a fun day in the woods!

wabash annie from Colorado Front Range on May 28, 2013:

Although I grew up on a farm in the Midwest, we did not gather mushrooms of any kind. My sister-in-law did, however, and I ate them at her house when I was in high school. We did dig sassafras roots for tea and I know what you mean about poison ivy and ... and chiggers too! Thanks for writing such an interesting and informative hub.

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 28, 2013:

lovebuglena, I have never hunted anything but morels! I do agree, though, they are delicious!

Lena Kovadlo from Staten Island, NY on May 28, 2013:

I love mushroom picking/hunting and have picked baskets full of different varieties. I have never seen actual morel mushrooms where I've gone mushroom hunting. I've ate them though and they are really good.

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 28, 2013:

StephanieBCrosby, You are right to be careful. There are poisonous mushrooms as well as delicious ones. If you learn what you are looking for, you will be in good shape!

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on May 28, 2013:

This is really interesting and insightful. I know a few people who hunt for their own mushrooms. I am too scared I would be the person to pick the poisonous mushrooms. So if I ever go hunting, I will certainly take a guided tour or go with an expert.

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 28, 2013:

vandynegl, You will love finding morels in your area! Let me know how the hunt goes next year. The season has ended for us in Kansas. :-(

Christopher Blackwell from USA on May 28, 2013:

This is such a great and useful hub! I live in Missouri near the forest and it has been raining for the last few days. I have eaten morels and they are wonderful. I have not, however, hunted them.

After reading this article I am honestly thinking about getting up from my computer later today and walking through the woods to see if I can score some of these tasty treats.

Thanks for the great hub!

healthmom on May 28, 2013:

Congrats on hub of the day! Enjoyed the lingerie bag alternative use in the video :) Well done hub.

Amy from Texas on May 28, 2013:

Great hub. There was more information in this than in all the reading I have done previously. Thank you.

vandynegl from Ohio Valley on May 28, 2013:

Great hub! We just moved to an area where morels are pretty popular. We have a lot of may apple plants, but have yet to find morels. I will keep looking! Your information was very useful! Thank you!!

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 28, 2013:

rose-the planner, Thanks for reading! There are so many wonderful varieties of mushrooms to try. I'm glad you found the article enjoyable. :-)

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on May 28, 2013:

What an informative sight! I especially thought your images were awesome. I enjoy various types of mushrooms and they can be used in so many recipes. My sister's husband used to go hunting for mushrooms and my sister would jar them like a giardiniera which is a type of salad with herbs , garlic and olive oil. They were quite good. Thanks for sharing. (Voted up)

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 28, 2013:

CZCZCZ, I am definitely a huge fan of the elusive morel! Thanks for reading!

CZCZCZ from Oregon on May 28, 2013:

Great detail in this article. Morel mushrooms are so delicious and it is always reward to take a walk in the forest and come home with a bag full of morel's.

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 28, 2013:

KawikaChann and CarlySullens, Thanks! It's always so exciting to be recognized as HOTD! :-D

Man from Modesto, Thanks for taking the time to read. Our family has a tradition of annual mushroom hunting. Such a great time hiking and finding these special mushrooms!

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on May 28, 2013:

Congratulations on HOTD!

Man from Modesto from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) on May 28, 2013:

Here in Ukraine, hunting mushrooms in the forest is a family activity. Young people also get together and hunt mushrooms.

I have two articles on poison ivy (I was a surveyor in NE Georgia for 5 years):

https://remedygrove.com/remedies/Natural-Cure-to-P...

https://skyaboveus.com/climbing-hiking/How-to-Prev...

The first one might be more important, especially if you already have a rash, or have them for extended periods if/when you get them.

Kawika Chann from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place on May 28, 2013:

Hey Kansasyarn! Congrats on HOTD!! Great pics and video feed on an interesting mushroom - I've never had, but will now start looking around for them. Thanks for another great read. Peace. Kawi.

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 28, 2013:

Carly, Thanks for reading. I would agree that you should stay out of the woods as much as possible!

Jared Miles, I had never heard of morels until I moved from Texas to Kansas 13 years ago. An annual mushroom hunt is a family tradition! Thanks for reading and sharing!

Jared Miles from Australia on May 28, 2013:

Wow, what a coincidence! The first time I'd heard of morel mushrooms was yesterday, (I'm guessing I'll sound silly for writing that, I'm not much of a mushroom person :p), and that was when I was reading 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy.

And then your article is the Hub of the Day just the day after. Thanks for a great read, made even better by coincidence. Voted up and shared.

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on May 27, 2013:

I am so sensitive to Poison Ivy. I usually get the blisters and itch all over. Since living in Florida I have luckily not been in contact with it. But I do not go near the woods and vast green growing areas in fear of a crocodile. Great hub.

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 18, 2013:

seoblazeindia, Glad you found it useful!

SEOBLAZEINDIA from delhi,india on May 17, 2013:

I love to eat mushroom and fell very happy to get more information by your post.

Thankyou.........

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 11, 2013:

You are right, Gordon. Hunting mushrooms is an annual tradition (more like an addiction!) for our family. Morels are very delicious and really fun to hunt. Thanks for reading!

Gordon Hamilton from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 11, 2013:

I love your tips for collecting mushrooms. I wish I had the knowledge to do so safely. My ex was a highly qualified biologist/botanist and she used to tell me what was safe to eat or otherwise but I'm afraid I stick to supermarket offerings when it comes to mushrooms in the present day. I know I'm missing out! :)

Teresa Sanderson (author) from Rural Midwest on May 08, 2013:

NornsMercy, Thanks for taking the time to read. Hunting for morels is fun, but not if you get into ticks and poison ivy! Glad you enjoyed it!

Chace from Charlotte, NC on May 07, 2013:

This is such a great hub. There's so much information, pictures and videos...not just about morel mushrooms, either! I don't think I've ever really known what poison ivy, sumac, or oak looked like even though they're all around me...