I’ve been out hunting morel mushrooms
…never really had found any before… other than the year my brother found some and then pointed me right to the spot!   My brothers have hunted for years, as have my parents, and grandparents making many trips up into Michigan sporting protective clothing and headgear for protection from mosquitoes in order to hunt these elusive beauties!

This year I  hunted with some friends and found two…then with my daughter and found twelve..and then down to one Sunday on Mother’s Day hunting with my daughter, son and my son’s girlfriend.

Violets in the Woods at Alpaca Meadows

I did enjoy just being in the woods, taking in all the new signs of Spring, with my family.

May Apples in the Woods at Alpaca Meadows

Spring really did come, just like it does every year, after a very long winter.

Wildflowers in the Woods at Alpaca Meadows

Maybe winter lasts so long in order that we might appreciate Spring all that much more…I love when the earth comes back to life!

Creek in the Woods

As I crossed the creek on my first outing, it didn’t take long to discover that I need a new pair of boots! Oh well, I’ve been wanting a pair of those cute flowered ones, anyway!

I’m told that most of what we’ve been finding are called Peckerhead Morels or Dog Peckers…okay then…  The best known morels
are the “yellow morel” or “common morel” ; the “white morel” ; and the “black morel”.

It just kind of irks me when my friend calls and has just found about a hundred…or a five year old boy walks out of the woods with a grocery bag full.

Into The Woods Hunting for Morel Mushrooms
I’ve been told to look in moist areas, around dying or dead elm trees,
sycamore and ash trees, old apple orchards and maybe even in my own back yard.  Walk slowly and look at my feet.  Ground cover varies and it is very likely that each patch of mushrooms may be growing in totally different conditions.

Into The Woods Hunting for Morel Mushrooms

When you do find them chances are that there will be more than one. The reason for this is that fungi tend to have an underground “root” system that is normally there but relies on the proper conditions to flourish. Moisture, temperature and other factors dictate whether they will “pop” and when. Some years they do in certain spots, and some years they don’t! Morel mushrooms will grow when the temperature, humidity, variance between daytime and nighttime temperature, soil acidity and many other factors are JUST RIGHT.

Into The Woods Hunting for Morel Mushrooms

When temperatures in the Spring begin to climb into the sixties during the day and are no colder than the forties at night… START LOOKING! Right after a rain is a good time. Look in stream and river beds, wooded areas, around fallen timber that has been decaying, and don’t forget to look within brambles and thick underbrush. Many people won’t go in there and you may be surprised what you will find!

Into The Woods Hunting for Morel Mushrooms

Mushroom hunting etiquette dictates using a mushroom bag …which is nothing more than a woven mesh bag (such as an orange or potato bag) to put the mushrooms in.  This is extremely important, because morels spread thru spores, which shake loose as they are jostled about.  Allowing the spores to fall to the ground will help to ensure more hunting in years to come

It is also a good idea to have a long stick to push aside tall weeds, limbs, and grass to get a better look. 

One reference I was reading even suggested hunting morel mushrooms by crawling on your belly like a snake!

I learned that the scientific name for morel is Morchella, that they are prized by gourmet cooks, particularly in French Cuisine.  They appear honeycomb-like in that the upper portion is composed of a network of ridges with pits between them, that morels are hunted by thousands of people every year simply for their taste and the joy of the hunt.  So that’s what it’s all about?

Evidently this is a banner year for morels in Ohio.  My son found the Spring delicacy growing in his front yard…now that’s my kind of hunting!

The state of Minnesota has actually adopted the morel as its state mushroom.

Morels have been called by many local names; some of the more colorful include dryland fish, because when sliced lengthwise then breaded and fried, their outline resembles the shape of a fish; hickory chickens, as they are known in many parts of Kentucky; and merkels or miracles, based on a story of how a mountain family was saved from starvation by eating morels (the spelling “merkel” reflects a corruption of the word “miracle” as spoken with an Appalachian dialect common to SW Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky area). In parts of West Virginia, they are known as “molly moochers.” Other common names for morels include sponge mushroom. Genus Morchella is derived from morchel, an old German word for mushroom, while morel itself is derived from the Latin maurus meaning brown.

I found there are entire websites dedicated to morel mushrooms and even videos such as this one… How To Find Morel Mushrooms …and did you know a mushroom scientist is called a “mycologist”!

If you are a first time hunter, you should make your first hunting expedition with someone who knows what a good morel looks like. There are several types of morels, some edible and others poisonous. You might want to check out Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms of the Worldor  Mushroom Picker’s Foolproof Field Guide.

I do so love to eat them…had them for breakfast just this morning…sauteed in olive oil and stirred into an omellete…delicious!  I could purchase them…found out they sell for about $10 an ounce…ikes!  Click on the picture above if you’re interested.

Or I discovered you could Grow Your Own

…but then you would miss out on the hunt and it seems like that’s just as important as the prize…kind of like life is not just about the destination but the journey!

Leave a comment if you’re a “shroomer”.  How many mushrooms have you found so far?  Have you ever tried to grow them?

Plow & Hearth



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