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The Hunt for Mushrooms: Facts on Morels

© by Jennifer McLeod writing as jenjen0703, all rights reserved.

Morel Mushrooms

Hunting for Mushrooms

I have been an avid mushroom hunter for years, and I love to traipse through the woods, searching for morel mushrooms. I can easily spend hours in a day searching for morels when I go on a hunt.

Mushroom hunting is an enjoyable activity and is something you can do with your family. This fun pastime has become a yearly tradition for myself and my family. Hunting for mushrooms is a great form of exercise for someone who enjoys nature.

What makes mushroom hunting so much fun is the competition that happens between the hunters. Each person has their own bag for carrying the morels. I laugh when I hear my children yelling, "I found one! Oh, look, there's another one!"

Telling the Difference

There are many mushrooms that we should not eat because they are poisonous. Telling the difference between non-edible mushrooms and morels is not difficult. Morels have distinctive appearance, and once you know what you are looking for, you will have no troubles finding them. They also look like a sponge and have a brain-like appearance.

The most difficult aspect of mushroom hunting is to figure out where they are growing. Morels like certain soil types and prefer to grow in a partially shaded place. Searching for morels is a hit-and-miss situation because they do not grow everywhere. But, once you find a few, chances are there will be more in the immediate area.

Black Morels

Black Morels sprout earlier than the rest of the morels. They may appear gray in color when they first sprout and are more common than others. They range from a half inch to a foot tall in size.

They are also more likely to cause allergic reactions than the other morels, so if you have never eaten them before, start with a few bites to see how your body reacts. Allergic reactions can cause the following symptoms: upset stomach, loss of muscle coordination, and an intensified reaction when mixed with alcohol.

Black morels are also called by the following names:

  • Early Morels
  • Grey Morels
  • Burn-Over Morels
  • Narrow-Capped Morels
  • Witch's Caps
  • Johnny Jump-Ups

Black Morels

Yellow Morels

Yellow Morels can grow up to a foot in height and can vary in colors including whitish, yellow, gray, or honey brown. Out of the three types of morels, yellow morels sprout last in the season. They also have the best flavor out of all the morels.

Another interesting fact about yellow morels is that they can grow to be extremely large and have a thick stem on them.

Yellow morels are also known as:

  • Honeycombs
  • Sponges
  • Domes
  • Giant Morels
  • Big Foots
  • Thick Footed Morels

Yellow Morels

Half Free Morels

Half Free Morels sprout after Black Morels season has started and continues into the Yellow Morels season.

This type of mushroom is similar to the other two; however, the heads on Half-Free Morels are tiny in comparison to Black Morels and Yellow Morels.

Yellow Morels are also called:

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  • Peckerheads
  • Cows Heads

Half Free Morels

Where to Look

Morel mushrooms grow best in moist soil, so if spring has been a dry season, they will be more difficult to find. Daytime and nighttime temperatures need to be warm for morels to grow.

Morels prefer to grow in certain places, around certain types of trees, and in certain types of soil. Learning these factors will make the hunt much easier. Places they like to grow include:

  • Apple orchards
  • South and north-facing slopes
  • In sandy soil
  • Near wood piles and sawmills
  • Near dead trees
  • Near cottonwood, poplar, tulip poplar, ash, oak, Hawthorn, and Douglas fir trees
  • Near railroad beds
  • When picking morels, do not pull them out of the ground. Break them off at the base, so as not to pull the roots up.
  • Lightly shake the morel in your hand before putting it into your bag. This helps the spores to fall to the ground, helping it to reseed.

How to Look

Morels like to hide under leaves and underneath dead trees. The best time to find them is right after it rains. Rain makes it easier to find morels because the leaves become wet and heavy, which exposes the mushrooms more. Sometimes, they can be found growing on hills. It is easier to find them on hills if you search for them while facing the hill because they are closer to eye level. If you are facing downhill, morels are more difficult to see.

Be sure to carry a bread bag or some other type of bag. It would be a good idea to take an extra bag or two with you, just in case you get lucky.

Also, if you are like me and have to visit state-owned property or a friend's house to hunt for morels, be careful not to yell out, "I found some!" The reason for being quiet is so that others will not hear your excitement and try to get in on the action.

Hunting for morels is not always successful. You may be looking for awhile before you find any.

From Other Hubbers...

Morel Mushroom Hunting Tips and Recipes

  • Vwriter delivers an excellent article that contains helpful suggestions for your hunt.

Springtime is Morel Season!

  • Jeff Berndt is a Michigander who shares his ideas on hunting for morels.

Preparing Morels

Before you can cook and eat morels, they must be cleaned first. Put them into a bowl of salt water and soak them for 24 hours. This will kill any tiny bugs that might be in them. After that, rinse them well.

There are many ways to cook morels, but I am going to give you my personal recipe.Using a Zip-Lock bag, pour Drake's Mix into it and toss some morels into the bag. Shake the bag until the morels are coated well.

In a hot frying pan, melt enough butter to thickly coat the bottom of it. Fry the morels, rolled in Drakes Mix, until they become browned and crispy. While they are frying, sprinkle some salt and pepper onto the morels to add some flavor.

Also, morels can be frozen for future use in dishes that call for mushrooms. They can also be dried, but they shrink considerably. You will need several times more mushrooms to get a good amount of dried ones.

Good luck on your hunt! Hopefully, you will come to enjoy hunting for morels as much as I do.


Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on May 13, 2012:

Thanks Cathleena, I don't know if Morels grow in Tennessee. Drake's mix is a just a seasoning from the grocery store. Similar to flour, you can coat meat, or in this case morels, with it. Adds great flavor to the mushrooms. Happy Mother's Day!

Cathleena Beams from Tennessee on May 12, 2012:

I have never seen any of these in Tennessee. They look fabulous though and I would love to hunt for them. Now wondering if they do grow here or not. Definitely would like to have a taste. Never heard of Drake mix either. Will have to do a Google search to find out a bit more about it. Awesome hub - Wanted to vote this up but the option for some reason wasn't available.

Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on May 09, 2012:

Thanks for checking out this hub collegedad! This college mom might go hunting this weekend, permitting. :)

collegedad from The Upper Peninsula on May 08, 2012:

Thanks for all the great advice. I will be out hunting these delicacies this weekend!

Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on March 30, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by, Elaine. I am glad my article could introduce you to these yummy wonders. I live in Michigan and they are a couple months early.

Elaine on March 30, 2012:

I live in Boulder Creek, California and was happily weeding my garden when I discovered this odd mushroom. (I have mulched my garden in oak leaves) Then I found 3 more! Hmmm, wonder what they are. Turns out, thanks to your great photos, I discovered they are morels! So, morels DO grow in California. I'd like to eat them as I have never had them, but I have some fear about wild mushrooms. Is there any chance these mushrooms could be something poisonous? They are identical to your photo of the black morel.

Thanks for being there...very helpful!



Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on March 23, 2012:

Thank you! Good luck on your hunts...hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Hopefully, you will make it to Portland in time...they have popped up really early this year.

Sherry Duffy from Here. There. Everywhere. Currently: Portland, OR on March 23, 2012:

Absolutely lovely! I am moving to Portland in about a month and can not wait to forage for mushrooms. Thank you for your tips. I will be bookmarking this. Voted up!

Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on March 22, 2012:

Your comments are always welcome Bob, and it sounds like I need to link a couple of your fungi articles to mine. Thanks for checking out my hub!!

Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on March 22, 2012:

You're welcome Frog Princess, and thank you for taking the time to read it. It seemed season appropriate.

diogenes from UK and Mexico on March 22, 2012:

Hi jenJen: Not to sound like a nanny, but I have done several hubs on edible and deadly fungi on here. I usually advise people not to eat wild mushrooms unless they are gathering with an expert as some bad one are too much like the OK ones at some stage of their development.

So many people get very ill every year in the UK taking a chance on ther identification. Some, as you know, have the most virulent toxins on earth and can kill you in hours or days.


The Frog Princess from Florence area of the Great Pee Dee of South Carolina on March 22, 2012:

Thanks for sharing so much info. I have learned something new today and enjoyed the reading.


Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on March 22, 2012:

That's awesome Lilleyth, what a special memory to have of your grandpa. I have very similar and equally wonderful memories of my grandfather, too. He took us mushroom hunting as kids, taught us how to mow the lawn with a riding lawnmower, and how to garden. Thanks for checking out my story.

Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on March 22, 2012:

Thanks for the support starstream! I love morels, too. There is a little bit of money to be made off them if you can find a buyer. But, I love them so much, I can't part with them (sometimes, I won't even tell any I found them).

Suzanne Sheffield from Mid-Atlantic on March 22, 2012:

Lovely hub. One of my better childhood memories is of my Italian grandfather bringing home a hatful of mushrooms and morels he gathered while taking his morning walk.

Dreamer at heart from Northern California on March 22, 2012:

This is a great hub. Your photos are exactly what people need to help with proper identification. I have eaten these and they are tasty. Be sure to properly identify and wash as stated.

Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on March 22, 2012:

That's too bad! I love mushroom hunting and literally crave morels quite often. I wish we could hunt for them year round here in Michigan. Thanks for the support!

rjsadowski on March 22, 2012:

A great hub with great pictures. I love to eat morels but I don't go mushroom hunting any more.

Jennifer McLeod (author) from Detroit, Michigan on March 22, 2012:

You are welcome Anamika S. Morels have a unique look, which makes it easier to hunt for them. I have never come across a mushroom that looked anything like it.

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on March 22, 2012:

Wow! They are so beautiful. I have never seen them before. Thanks for sharing!

Movie Master from United Kingdom on March 22, 2012:

Hi Jen, the Morel mushroom looks quite beautiful, I have never heard of it before, I'm not sure they grow in the UK.

I would love to join you on a mushroom hunt!

A great hub thank you, voted up and shared.

Best wishes Lesley

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