Besides colorful flowers and warmer temperatures, spring also brings an eagerly awaited edible treat: morel mushrooms. These delicious wild mushrooms are considered a delicacy, easily costing more than $30 per pound when fresh and well over $100 per pound dried. The main reason morels are so pricey is their rarity. They only appear from late March through May, and they're nearly impossible to farm or grow indoors, which is why many people try to forage for morels. They grow in woodsy areas all across the U.S., but they're harder to find in the southwest and other typically dry regions. Sometimes the thrill of finding these elusive fungi is even more satisfying than eating them, so here's what you need to know to improve your chances during morel-hunting season.
How to Identify Morel Mushrooms
Whenever you’re foraging, identification is key (you don’t want to end up bringing home a basket filled with inedible or possibly toxic mushrooms by accident). Luckily, morel mushrooms have a distinct look that’s pretty easy to spot. Look for mushrooms with a cone-shape cap with lots of crevices like a sponge. When you slice them open, all true morels are hollow inside.
Watch out for false morel mushrooms, which can sometimes be toxic. They look a bit like real morels from a distance, but when you get closer, it should be clear that they’re not. Most false morels will have wrinkly, almost shriveled-looking caps instead of pits. Sometimes, color gives them away too; real morel mushrooms are light brown, and some false morels are reddish in color. If you’re ever in doubt, leave the mushrooms where they are and keep looking!
When to Forage for Morels
Timing is important when you’re looking for morels, so keep an eye on the weather. They love moist, slightly cool conditions, and tend to pop up if there’s been several spring rainstorms. Temperature also plays a part; usually, morels will thrive when the temperature at night doesn’t dip below 50°F, so a string of cool but not cold nights paired with rain is your cue to go mushroom hunting.
Keep in mind that the mushrooms will get larger as the season goes on. You might not have much luck searching in late March or early April because most morels are tiny at that point, usually the size of your thumb or smaller. But in later spring, morels can get much bigger (sometimes as large as a soda can), reaching 4-5 inches tall. This makes them a lot easier to spot, so new mushroom hunters might want to wait until later in the season. Of course, if you wait too long, other foragers might get to the morels first.
Where to Find Morel Mushrooms
For the most part, hunting for morels is all about luck, especially for beginners. But if you’re not sure where to start, sometimes more experienced hunters will share spots that they’ve found morels. The Great Morel, a website dedicated to tracking down these elusive mushrooms, has a morel mushroom map where foragers can submit locations where they’ve found them, including the date they were there.
Otherwise, your best bet for morel mushroom hunting is to head out to a forest or nature park. Usually, the mushrooms grow on the edges of wooded areas, especially around oak, elm, ash, and aspen trees. Look for dead or dying trees while you’re on the hunt too, because morels tend to grow right around the base.
Another good place to check for mushrooms is in any area that’s been recently disturbed. It could have been a forest fire in the past year or two, or even just a lightly-used trail in the woods, but morels tend to sprout up in these areas. Following a small stream or creek could also lead you to morels; they don't like soggy soil, but the moisture splashed from a nearby stream could create the perfect mushroom patch.
If you hit the jackpot and stumble across a morel mushroom or two, stop where you are! Your best bet to find more mushrooms is to search the immediate area, within about 20 feet of the patch you already found. Usually, you’ll find at least a few more morels nearby. If you find some, the easiest way to harvest them is to cut them at the base with scissors or a knife, but you also can snap or pinch them off at the base with your fingers.
A lot of the fun of morel mushroom hunting comes from the search itself, but if you manage to find some, cook them first to enjoy the best flavor. Try using morels to top a pizza, or sauté them with a little butter to serve as a side dish. Enjoy the hunt, and savor any taste-testing of morels you’re lucky enough to do!
Depending upon your location in the country, the morel mushroom hunting season can start anytime from mid-March to late June. Unfortunately the date of the first sighting in your area can vary by several weeks each year so you can’t count on finding them using that date you marked on your calendar last year. The key is to have a week or so with daytime temperatures in the 60’s and night time temperatures in the upper 40’s. It’s at this time the ground temperature reaches the low to mid 50’s which is the optimum growing condition for morels. Some rain to moisten the soil is required but it’s a myth is that you need the sun to really “pop” them. Some of my most productive seasons have been cloudy, rainy springs. Besides, everyone should experience mushroom hunting in the rain. The fresh smell of the woods, the sound of the rain on the Mayapples, the overwhelming feeling that you are one with the woods…..…absolutely nothing better!
2. Don’t Forget Technology
With a growing season that typically lasts only a few weeks and a start date that can vary as much as 4 weeks, it’s very easy to miss the season altogether. If you want to be sure not to miss the “pop”, use technology to your advantage. There are many websites that have morel sightings maps. (including TheGreatMorel.com sighting maps. Use the sightings map to track the progression of morels from the warmer climates to the cooler states. In the U.S., Morel mushrooms are found in abundance from middle Tennessee northward into Michigan and Wisconsin and Vermont and as far west as Oklahoma. By regularly visiting the sightings map you can track the progression from the southern states through the northern states. Many of the sightings maps even allow you to expand into county view to really pin point the start of the season in your area. The sighting map can also heighten the anticipation of the new mushroom season. Watching the sighting pins move closer to you each day is like the child opening the window each day on the Christmas calendar in anticipation of Santa!
3. Tune your Eyes Prior to the Hunt
4. Hunting the Trees
Successful morel mushroom hunters seem to fall into two groups. Those who look for certain varieties of trees (tree hunters) and those who look for distinctions in the lay of the land. The dead elm is a favorite among the “tree hunters” but many also swear by tulip poplar, hickory, ash, or sycamore trees. Some even say there is a symbiotic relationship between morels and the trees. This is certainly true of many types of fungi but since morels can sometimes be found growing in a treeless yard, patch of moss, or on a muddy bank, it is hard to prove this theory. However, the continued success of many “tree hunters” cannot be denied so this method should not discounted. One tree hunting method in which almost all avid mushroom hunters agree is that old apple orchards produce morels. If you are lucky enough to hunt an area with old apple trees, check it often. Don’t give up on it as many times the large yellow morels which grow beneath them will appear about a week after everything else is gone.
5. Hunting the “Lay of the Land”
Typically, this variety of the morel mushroom is found in large groups at the very start of the season. Many times a week or so before the first sign of greys or yellows. The hill tops in the middle of the woods seem to be the best location for finding the mother lode of these black sponges. Yet another strategy used by “Lay of the Land” mushroom hunters is to hunt the troughs. Hunting the troughs means to hunt the depressions, washouts, run-offs and small ravines within the woods. The theory is that the morel spores carried by the wind and rain are deposited here. Many morel mushrooms are found in these areas so do not discount this method.
I hope this article helps you find more morels this year. There are many seasoned morel hunters who will offer up really good tips and tricks of their own in addition to those above. Feel free to comment or jump over the The Great Morel Facebook Group and add your thoughts.
The morel mushroom (also called yellow morels or sponge mushrooms) is known around the world but is most prevalent in the northern hemisphere. Morel mushrooms are probably the most recognizable and sought-after edible mushroom.
- Morels usually emerge annually in the spring when there has been adequate rainfall.
- In southern Minnesota they can be found in late April through May, depending on the rainfall and temperature.
- Northern Minnesota may see morels into June.
Note: There is a “false” morel that is poisonous. See identification cues from the Minnesota Harvester Handbook’s fact sheet.
Hunting for morels
- Morels are most commonly found in woodlands or woody edges.
- Morels grow under or around decaying elms, ash, poplar and apple trees.
- Other preferred sites include south facing slopes, burned (forest fire) or logged woodlands and disturbed areas.
Beware of poisonous mushrooms
Warning: Many wild mushrooms are poisonous and can be fatal. Correctly identify the mushroom you pick and plan to eat. An old mushroom hunters’ axiom states “When in doubt, throw it out.” This is a good rule to follow.
If you believe you have ingested a poisonous mushroom, immediately contact Poison Control (1-800-222-1222), and save an uncooked sample of the mushrooms you consumed for the purpose of identification. This can be critical for determining the proper course of treatment.
The Minnesota Harvester Handbook
The Minnesota Harvester Handbook addresses sustainable natural resource harvest and markets. This resource – developed by the University of Minnesota Extension and many contributors – demonstrates the breadth and diversity of natural resources found in and around the state’s woodlands. For more non-timber forest products to harvest this spring, purchase a copy of the Minnesota Harvester Handbook or find it on the University’s digital conservancy.
Hunting for the the elusive morel.
“I’ve been searching for years. How do I find morels?” This is a common question asked in foraging groups and by people excited about one of spring’s greatest treasures. These elusive mushrooms seem to grow everywhere and anywhere, yet never where you are looking.
Young morels photo courtesy of Jordan Madley
Morels are a diverse and widespread spring mushroom. They grow the world over, and include dozens of varieties that each require a specific set of conditions to thrive. For this reason there can be some contradictory information on how to locate them. For the most part, morels have a mycorrhizal relationship with nearby trees and plants. Mycorrhizal relationships are symbiotic, meaning both the trees and mushrooms thrive as a result of this connection. That said, there are a few varieties of morels that are saprobic, meaning that they can grow from soil with no direct association with trees.
The dried morels Forbes stocks come from the Canadian far North, in BC, Yukon and the Northwest territories, where they flourish following forest fires and can carpet the ground with abundant growth. However these morels are different from the ones you will find near parks, orchards, or even in your backyard in more temperate climates. There are actually dozens of distinct types of true morels. Many are visually identical, but their genetics differ from similar-looking ones found elsewhere.
Morel photo courtesy of Aaron Elyk @aaron_the_forager
Photo courtesy of Jordan Madley
Where to look
Across Canada and into the USA, we find over 40 different types of morel: black ones, yellow ones, grey ones, green ones, conical ones, and more. Each type tends to favor a different habitat, with yellow morels often found near deciduous trees such as poplar, elm or aspen, and black morels often found in apple orchards and on hills covered in maple near where we pick. It’s important to know your trees to find your mushrooms! Learn to identify trees in winter time, as they may not be budding or full of leaves while you are hunting for mushrooms in spring. To increase your odds of finding morels, learn to identify elms, ash, poplars (trembling aspen and cottonwood), apple and stone fruit trees such as peach or plum. Maple trees in clearnings or around the edges of sugar bushes as well as old orchards are often home to lots of morels. So, you don’t need to seek out locations where forest fires have recently cleared land; there are many potential places near you where morels will appear.
Different morel varieties
Some of my favorite places to look are around the exterior of small woodlots that pop-up in fields, and in meadows that have been left to go wild. Morels like to have a little light, so deep in the dark recesses of the forest will not be as fruitful as in clearings or the edges of the forest.
Mayapple is a great sign morels will be here soon.
When to look
In Ontario and in many other places throughout central and eastern North America, the first morels of the season are black varieties, followed soon by yellow ones, which often arrive at the same time as cherry blossoms and the unfurling of mayapple leaves. In springtime, when soil temperatures are above 10 °c ( 50 °f ) consistently for about 5 days, you should start to see them peeking out of the forest floor. In southern Ontario, they can sometimes start showing up in April but tend to be in full swing in May with places further south happening sooner, and places further north often a little later. Altitude can also have a big effect on when they start to show up with the top of the Niagara Escarpment often being two weeks behind places only a 1/2 hour drive away. Within about two to three weeks, if the weather remains moderately cool and wet, the morels will grow to full size depending on available moisture and resources.
Gyromitra brunnea – edible but not to be confused with gyromitra esculenta that is very toxic!
Verpa bohemica on the left, Morel on the right. Both are edible.
The start of morel season will also bring Verpa bohemica, a morel cousin from the Morchellaceae family. Verpa is edible, but suffers from being given the incorrect name “false morel”, a term that’s also used for several other species of mushroom including Helvella and Gyromitra. Novice pickers should avoid all types of Gyromitra, because although many are edible, some are unpalatable, and at least one variety is highly toxic. If you can tell the difference between cabbage and iceberg lettuce, you can easily differentiate the morel look alikes, provided you consult a good visual guidebook.
Sauteed Morels photo courtesy of Seth Goering
How to prepare
Morels MUST be cooked! A raw morel is a toxic mushroom that can cause significant cramping and intestinal discomfort. It is essential that morels be well-cooked prior to consuming. For example, it is not sufficient to put raw morels on a pizza that will only be in the oven long enough to melt its cheese. Sautee your morels before eating or adding to other foods to ensure that they have come to temperature inside. The need to cook morels also extends to Verpa varieties.
One of our favorite ways of cooking morels is to actually over cook them just a touch. Simply cut into thirds and press flat then put them in a hot pan for about 5 minutes or till they start to become crispy, add a pinch of salt and enjoy your crispy morel bacon.
The real trick to finding morels is to just spend time in nature, exploring while keeping your eyes peeled to the ground. Choose an overcast day, so the sun peeking through the forest canopy is less distracting and take a paper bag or basket and knife with you should you find some of these spring delights.
I’ve had strangers offer up onX pins for where to find roosted turkeys and spawning walleye, but rarely do foragers volunteer morel mushroom spots. Like a good family recipe or secret bait , a lot of morel honey holes go to the grave with whomever found them. Since no one is going to walk you into a big patch of the finest tasting mushies, you’ll need to find spots on your own.
While the absolute best place to pick morels this spring is the same place you picked morels last spring, even that’s not a guarantee. If you want to expand your morel mushroom hunting rolodex, focus your search on these locations.
Wildfire morel growths are maybe the worst-kept foraging secret . Everyone west of the Missouri River knows these are prime locations to find mushrooms, but few outside of this region give them consideration—and that’s just wrong.
Wildfires in the South aren’t all that frequent anymore, but there are still plenty of low-intensity, prescribed grass burns. Fresh grass fires (and those that are a few seasons old) along wooded areas or waterways will absolutely produce easy-to-find morels. You’ll see the same thing in the Northeast, Midwest, and Great Plains after farmers torch ditches in the spring to clear out old plant matter.
There’s a reason commercial foragers love burn morels so much: they’re easy to spot and uncharacteristically predictable. While flatlanders won’t find the same quantity that Westerners enjoy, they’ll still be able to fill a sauté pan off scorched earth morels.
The same thing that allows burn areas to produce morels applies to vegetated sandbars: the presence of disturbed, enriched soil. Islands and bottomlands that see irregular flooding are constantly revitalized with fresh nutrients, which causes long-dormant spores to come to life.
Vegetated sandbars are some of my favorite places to kill spring days looking for morels. Unlike the river bottoms, which are often easy to access, islands that require a boat to reach will leave behind much of the foraging competition. But not all islands are created equal.
If you can find a lush island that transitions from rush grass to hardwoods, then you’re in business. Size doesn’t much matter, as I’ve had bountiful harvests on sandbars as small as 2 acres to as big as 700. In early spring, focus on sandier, sparser areas. As the season progresses, move towards the middle of the island to find morels in darker soils and denser vegetation.
As I discussed in my total guide to morel hunting , dead, tipped-over trees are my mushroom hunting slump busters. Whenever a day of foraging isn’t going as planned, it seems like things always turn around when I find a fallen tree.
There’s something about the disturbed soil, dead bark acting as mulch, and little bit of shade that the trunk provides that makes morels appear. Trees that have fallen in the last year are best, but even those that are completely stripped of bark and have seen a few winters will still produce. Brush up on your mycology for spots like this as you’ll often find other choice edibles here, like oysters and chicken of the woods .
While there are no sure things in mushroom hunting, dead timber is as close as it gets. Seek out areas like this, as well as burns and islands, and you’re (almost) guaranteed to have a successful foraging season.
Spring is a magical time for Oklahoma outdoor enthusiasts when warmer temperatures signal blooming redbuds, wildflowers and great fishing for bass and crappie. While many hunters are gearing up for turkey season, others are preparing for a lesser known, but equally exciting time of year; morel mushroom season!! It’s become quite popular in Oklahoma to forage the morel mushroom. This “Christmas tree” cone-shaped fruit is considered to be a rare delicacy, bursting with flavor.
PHOTO CREDIT: BJ CLINTON
WHERE CAN I FIND MORELS?
If you were to purchase morel mushrooms, they can be quite expensive at $8 per pound. You could also experience this delicacy at one of the new, upscale restaurants in Oklahoma City, Nonesuch OKC, where they often create dishes with morel mushrooms foraged by Chefs Colin Stringer and Paul Wang.
PHOTO CREDIT: NONESUCH OKC
THRILL OF THE HUNT
For many mushroom hunters, however, the thrill of the hunt is what it’s all about! One Oklahoma man, Marty Lee, has been hunting morel mushrooms for nearly 50 years, since he was a young boy. He started a resource page on Facebook (The Oklahoma Morel Report) a few years ago and his audience has grown to more than 17,000 followers, anxious to learn more about morel mushroom hunting in Oklahoma!
PHOTO CREDIT: NONESUCH OKC
WHERE CAN MORELS BE FOUND?
One thing we know for sure, the hots spots where morels are found, quickly become top secret for many mushroom enthusiasts, so we were grateful to get some tips from Marty Lee who tells us conditions will be right for morels to grow once we get plenty of rain and temps warm up to 60s and 70s during the day. Another important factor is for ground temperatures to be between 45-50 degrees.
Lee’s advice for finding morels is to “just go outside and start looking because they could be anywhere! You might find them in your backyard, city park or nearby woods.”
We also learned of an unspoken rule amongst morel hunters that it is considered impolite to ask, where the morels were found! To avoid making this faux pas, you can simply ask, “In what county were these found?!” We thought it was interesting to learn that many of the secret spots have been passed down from generation to generation, thus the covert nature of finding the best places to hunt!
PHOTO CREDIT: MARTY LEE
WHEN CAN MORELS BE FOUND?
In many areas of the state, Bradford pears are already flowering and signs of Spring are here. Many morel hunters are waiting for the next big rain while others won’t start their search until after 3/19 or when the redbuds start blooming.
ARE THEY SAFE TO EAT?
So, once you get lucky and find a bunch of morel mushrooms, how can you be sure those you found are safe for human consumption?! We talked with Eufaula local and morel mushroom hunter, Rachel Wagnon who shed some light on safety and preparation.
While some mushroom hunters claim rinsing the mushrooms takes away the flavor, Wagnon disagrees, “personally, I prefer to rinse the dirt and bugs off of my mushrooms before eating them!”
She also shared some safety tips and urges anyone interested in mushrooms, to do their research before consuming any mushrooms since look-alike, poisonous mushrooms do exist.
Wagnon encourages newbies not to let this be a deterrent! She says, “Picking the mushrooms will not hurt you even if they are poisonous. To be safe, when I return home, I take my harvest inside to rinse off all of the bugs and dirt (don’t be scared of the bugs, they are not an indication of the freshness of a mushroom), then I use my fail proof method for determining whether or not the mushrooms are edible. Simply cut all of the mushrooms in half and you will know it is a true morel and safe to eat if the stem is hollow all the way up. If it’s solid anywhere on the stem, don’t eat them!” There’s also a process known as a “spore print” that can be used to check to make sure they are edible.
Morels are known for their nutty, incredible flavor. While many claim the best way to eat them is fried, Wagnon says you can prepare them any way you would use button mushrooms from the grocery store. Her favorite way to prepare the mushrooms is to simply sauté them in butter with salt and pepper or soy sauce and sriacha. When her harvest is bountiful, she loves to saute a big bunch and freeze them in individual baggies to pull out, as needed, to top a steak or stir into an omelette or pasta!
- The root base of a morel is in the ground and the mushroom is the fruit, so while this is debated amongst morel hunters, our experts suggest taking a small knife to simply cut them to avoid destroying the mycelium, which could destroy the chances of regrowth year after year.
- Wagnon and Lee both agree that where there is one morel, there will be many, so once your eyes focus in on one, stop and crouch down low to the ground so that you can see them.
- Wagnon also advises not to look down at your feet when you’re searching, instead crouch down and look ahead about 10 feet or so and put the leaves in the background since the leaves often camouflage the morels.
- Morels are not the only mushrooms that can be found in Oklahoma! There are other edible mushrooms as well including the very rare, Lion’s Mane and the more plentiful Oyster which grows in Spring and Fall.
- Pairing morel mushrooms with fresh Bass is an Oklahoma favorite!
- If you’re visiting Lake Eufaula this Spring, Wagnon confirmed for us, that morels can be found in all three counties near the lake!
You never know what you’ll find when you get curious about your environment, so take Marty Lee’s advice and just get outside and start exploring.
Check out these great morel mushroom resources:
Marty Lee featured on Outdoor Oklahoma: (this video is full of great tips from Marty) https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/content/how-hunt-morel-mushrooms
To check ground and soil temps, Oklahoma Mesonet is a great resource.
Special thanks to Marty Lee, Rachel Wagnon, BJ Clinton and Nonesuch OKC for your help in gathering this information!
May is morel month in Michigan, but the actual fruiting period is from late April until mid-June, depending on the location and species. Morels are not just found in the north – some of the best picking is in southern Michigan. Remember: Morels found on public land are for personal use and cannot be sold!
Hungry for more?
For the beginning mushroom hunter, morels are among the easiest to find and identify of the thousands of wild mushrooms found in Michigan.
Like all wild mushrooms, morels require specific conditions of temperature and moisture to grow. Some springs are good for morels, others poor. Warm and wet conditions are best, and cold and dry can mean almost total failure of the crop.
Morel hunting tips
Collecting, prepping and cooking
Large burn sites in forested areas are ideal for morel mushroom hunting, especially in burned areas where jack, white or red pine once grew. Grassy and other non forest areas are not as likely to produce morels.
We have put together a map of large burn areas that occurred within the past couple years. Zoom in close to see the type of ground cover in a particular area (conifer, wetlands, grass, etc.). Please note, we cannot guarantee the presence of morels at these locations!
This application contains a complex map. If you have questions or comments please contact a DNR Customer Service Center.
where to find morel mushrooms
Do morels make you dream?
Does the idea of harvesting a lot of morels excite you?
Unfortunately coming back empty-handed can be disappointing.
Do you wonder if you are looking in the right place? Have you wondered about the proper growing conditions for morels?
If so, then this article is for you!
In the following article we will explore the best way to find morels and their preferred growing conditions.
Are you ready to become an expert in morel hunting? Join us in this article to learn where white and black morels grow in the forest! Let’s go!
where to find morel mushrooms
Do morel mushrooms grow in your state? What are the best states to harvest morel mushrooms?
For the USA: if you live in Iowa, Missouri, West Virginia, Montana, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Idaho, Minnesota, Kansas, Oregon, Ohio, Oklahoma, Illinois, South Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, Kentucky, Arkansas, Vermont, Washington, foraging will be easier and you are more likely to find morels!
For the UK: there are no preferential zones, and there is less data on the subject. Possibly Wales could be a little advantaged because the nature of the soil is more favorable there.
However, you will still have chances to find morels in states not mentioned. Keep hope! You deserve to pick this wonderful edible mushroom
Why is it important to know the different types of morels?
To simplify, there are two main families of morels: white morels or common morels (Morchella vulgaris, rotunda…) and black morels (Morchella elata, Morchella costata, Morchella deliciosa…). As you can imagine, these two families of morels don’t grow in the same place or at the same time. We are talking about different biotopes!
But let’s already see the points in common between these two large families of morels!
Where do morels live?
The favorite places where white an black morels grow best
Although these indications are not always very “scientific”, mushroom hunters often report these picking locations as being conducive to the growth of wild morels:
- Recent cutting areas: no wonder! The tree, when cut, releases a large amount of sap into the soil, and the chippings from the cut keep the soil moist. The perfect habitat for a beautiful shoot of morels!
- The land turned over, disturbed: these types of land are caused by agricultural machinery or even by moles! When soil is disturbed, the roots of trees are usually injured and the sap is released into the soil! and morels like to grow on this kind of ground.
- Water sources: there are often sandy soils nearby and good humidity!
- Recently burnt areas: a lot of carbon and very little competition caused by the sterilization of the land! The perfect cocktail for an explosion of morels!
- Sources of sugar: it is common to find many morels close to sources of sugar! Orchards, apple trees, and other sweet plants are famous for hosting many morels!
The ideal soil for common and conical morels
The main thing you should remember about the common morel is that it generally grows on neutral to basic soil. But this is not a hard and fast rule. It can also flourish on slightly acidic soils if all the other conditions are good (host species, nature of the soil, climate, etc.).
How can you validate neutral to basic soil while foraging? It’s simple: the neutral to basic nature of the soil will be manifested by a significant presence of neutrophilic and calcicole plants such as ground ivy, ficaria, hawkweed, wild garlic, white anemone, fetid hellebore, male orchis and primrose.
It’s a great sign if you find very few acid-loving plants. This means the soil is acidic enough for some acid-loving plants to be in the area – but not too much so they don’t flourish there. It’s a sign of neutral to basic soil.
The perfect climate for black and white morels
Morels like cool environments that are relatively well exposed. It’s the famous thermal shock (an alternation of hot and cold) that will allow them to bear fruit. More precisely, an alternation of temperature between 41 °F at night and 59 to 68 °F during the day will be perfect to initiate the fruiting of morels. Of course, the temperature for growing morels can vary a little around these values.
However, it is not easy to say how long it can take for morels to grow. It seems reasonable to wait 7-10 days after fruiting for a good-sized sporophore!
But it is advisable to differentiate between the yellow morel and the black morel. Let’s take a look at these differences:
Where exactly does the yellow morel grow?
It should be noted that many internet users look for the common morel under the name of “white morel” or “yellow morel”.
What trees do white morels grow under?
The white morel or yellow morel generally grows near deciduous trees. The hardwoods most commonly associated with the common morel are Ash, aspen, maple, apple, hornbeam, locust, elm, hazel… (This list is not exhaustive but constitutes an excellent one to start).
If you are a beginner, focus on ash trees! Learn to spot their structure, their bud … and when you identify one, look around it.
The common morel can be found in the plains as well as in the mountains. Usually, it is found in the plains at the start of the season and then in the mountains later in the season.
When to look for the common morel? The common or white morel is in general later than the black morel. The ideal time to go for morels is from the end of March to the end of May, especially in the plains. Of course, the altitude and the weather will make a difference at the start and the end of the season.
Where exactly does the black morel grow?
It should be noted that many internet users look for the conical morel under the name of “fir morel”.
Black morels and tree relationship
The black morel is more complex to find. It generally grows in proximity to conifers. It is often associated with spruce, fir, pine, larch … But if you want to increase your chances, choose mixed forests. The mix that works best is deciduous/coniferous mixtures: ash/spruce, ash/fir, rowan/larch…
If you are just starting, we recommend that you focus on the common morel. However, if you want to look for black morels, try to look for leafy/coniferous mix as mentioned above. You can also use our maps to make your job easier.
The conical morel or black morel is more common in the mountains. In general, we find this one from March to June (at high altitudes)
The right season
When to look for the conical morel? The conical morel appears earlier than the common morel; However, this is not always true at high altitudes where you may find them late in the season.
So how to hunt morels?
Congratulations! Now you know more about the growing areas of white and black morels.
If you want to learn how to distinguish the true morel from the false morel, Guillaume Eyssartier, a famous French mycologist, has written an article on our site to help you differentiate them.
Morel mushroom season is early spring in Pure Michigan. Like most mushroom hunters, guest blogger Joshua Nowicki prefers to keep the locations of his favorite spots to himself. However, we were able to get Joshua to share some tips and tricks of the hunt with us. Read about his adventures below.
Elusive and delicious, morel mushrooms are a wonderful spring time delicacy in Pure Michigan. When you add hiking and the recent opening of trout fishing, you have more than a weekend of outdoor fun awaiting you.
Morel Mushroom | Photo Courtesy of Joshua Nowicki
For me, it has become an annual tradition to spend at least a couple of weekends searching for morels somewhere in the thousands of acres of National Forest and State Forest land that surrounds the Cadillac area. Like most people, I will not tell you the location of my favorite spots, but I can give you a few tips on where you might look.
There are a variety of different theories on locating the best place to find morels. The easiest way for someone just getting started is to keep your eyes open as you are driving around and look for people slowing walking through the woods carrying mesh bags.* Though you are not likely to find a large quantity of morels in easily visible or popularly frequented areas, it is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the type of terrain that the mushrooms are likely to grow in and possibly talk with someone who has experience with mushroom identification.
Morel Mushroom in Grass | Photo Courtesy of Joshua Nowicki
Morels are very unpredictable as to where they will grow year to year. I have found them in fields, forests, the edges of paved road and even in landscaping wood mulch in busy metropolitan areas. To make it more complicated, in places where I have found many one year, I will not find any the next. That said, my favorite areas to look include old orchards and areas that have been logged or been burned sometime during the last several years.
Close View of Morel Mushrooms | Photo Courtesy of Joshua Nowicki
Once you have a location, the hunt really begins. I like to walk slowly scanning about a five to ten foot section of ground with my eyes. My father’s method, however, is to walk at a good pace with his eyes focused out about twenty or thirty feet. We make a good team with these two methods; he tends to find the largest morels and I find the smaller ones. When he spots a mushroom, I will often search the surrounding area and locate several small ones that he had overlooked. As for the time of day that I like to go, I have found that the lighting in early morning and evening makes for the best contrast for actually seeing the mushrooms. A friend of mine even carries a small wood carved morel and continually glances at it in an attempt to train his eyes to identify the morel mushroom shape.
Picking Morel Mushrooms | Photo Courtesy of Joshua Nowicki
When you have found a morel, be sure to pinch or cut the stem at the ground level. Please do not pull it from the ground; leave the root system intact.
Some weekends, I divide my time between morel mushroom hunting and trout fishing in the area’s rivers. Fresh caught trout with morels and ramps/wild leaks cooked over a campfire makes for a truly delightful day.
After a tiring day of hiking the woods or when the weather is not cooperating, I head to downtown Cadillac which offers a variety of unique shops and locally own restaurants.
Northern Lower Michigan also has several Mushroom festivals including the Mesick Mushroom Festival which includes a flea market, craft show, “Biggest Morel Contest” and variety of other activities and events. A little further north, Boyne City hosts the National Morel Mushroom Festival which includes a carnival, music, seminars on morels, food and much more.