Shhh… Is Anyone Looking?

Morchella esculenta (Yellow Morel) on… Hmmm…

Hello everyone. I hope this post finds you well. Ummm… A few days ago I went back to the location I was at in the previous post only on the other side of the highway. I did find a few more wildflower species which I will write about next. I did find one more White Morel suitable to bring home and one I left behind because it was very small. ANYWAY… When I came back home after being in the woods for about 3 hours, I went to the area by the chicken house to see if I could find any Morels there. None AGAIN! So out of curiosity, I went to the brushy area along the fence. I never find anything there but you never know. I stepped through an opening where a fence had once been YEARS AGO. Grandpa had another fenced-in area here about 40′ x 150′. Anyway, it is all grown up and full of Vinca minor, gooseberry bushes, grapevines, poison ivy and so on.  I walked to the corner, covered in Vinca, and HOLY CRAP there were two HUGE Yellow Morels (Morchella esculenta). I looked across the fence and there were more. Forget I said across the fence. I didn’t say I crossed the fence but there were 19 more and some were partly covered and entangled in the Vinca. Now you are probably wondering how I knew there were 19?

OK, so here I was in a bit of a situation. The area along the fence is an overgrown mess between this property and the church next door. No one was at the church but there are neighbors across the street and a trailer park across from the church. Plus people were driving by on the street. Any other time of the year I would have just walked around the fence with no problem whether or not anyone was watching. BUT, this was NOT just any time of the year. This time of the year if you see people walking in the woods or somewhere weird, like an overgrown fence row full of vines, thorns, poison ivy (you get the picture) you know why they are there. Not that anyone is going to be looking but you still get a little paranoid. You have to keep these spots a secret even though they are right out in the open. I mean, this is not a place in a secluded woods.

I checked the fence and it was not a good place to cross. So, I went down a little farther and found a spot I could squeeze through. So I went through the fence so I could “rescue” the Morels from the Vinca. That sounds much better, but we still need to keep it quiet.

Of the 21 I found, several were beyond saving and taking to dinner. Who would have thought in such a ridiculous spot there would have been Morels. In fact, if they had been White Morels (Morchella americana) it is likely I would never have sen them. For those of you who may not know what Vinca minor is… For one, it is (or has been) popular as a groundcover that has escaped and went haywire wherever it is allowed or unnoticed. I don’t remember my grandparents every having it but somehow it has managed to go flourish in this area (and a few others). They make long semi-woody vines that go everywhere and are evergreen. Somehow, these Yellow Morels managed to grow through the mess of vines even though some were pretty distorted.

The color of these was them crying out, “SAVE ME!” So, I did.

I didn’t take any photos of them the day I found them because I wasn’t thinking about taking photos. I was in a panic situation seeing them all tangled in the Vinca. I went back today to take these photos. I am sure you are thinking I went back to see if there were any new ones…

Morchella americana (White Morel) on 4-15-20.

The one in the above photo is the White Morel (Morchella americana) I found on April 15. It is pretty good sized for a White Morel and they are usually somewhat smaller. I have found larger, though, but normally White Morels usually grow to less than 4″. Information suggests the earlier ones are larger. In 2013, I photographed a HUGE one under a Chinese Elm in February. I took a photo with my cell phone and sent it to a few friends because no one would have ever believed it. That was shortly after I moved back here and had a cell phone… I couldn’t figure out how to get the photo on my computer so it is lost and gone forever.

White Morels from April 21, 2019. As you can tell, they aren’t that large.

I am no Morel hunting expert and definitely not a fungi guy. 🙂 GEEZ! ANYWAY, Morels are pretty easy to spot as long as they are there. I started hunting with my grandpa when I was a little kid so it has just become a spring thing to go mushroom hunting.

Over the years I have heard a lot of stories about Morels that may or may not be true. I always heard they just pop up the size they are when you find them. I am not sure about that but I have gone through areas and found none and then go back a few minutes later and found them. Like walking on the ground caused them to “pop” up.

Supposedly, different species prefer growing under different trees. In my experience, that really hasn’t mattered that much. They do have preferred conditions, but at times, that hasn’t mattered much either… One year I went hunting in the back of the farm along the creek several times and found none, like usual, and came back and found quite a few in the open in the back yard. They haven’t come up again in that spot. Many years ago I found several in the apple orchard. Never again… I heard you can take the water you clean them in and throw it out and they will come up here the next spring. That may happen if there are spores, but I think very fresh mushrooms aren’t likely to have spores. NOW, I did see spores in some of the older yellows I found. I threw them along the north side of the house. 🙂

Yep. Morels in the skillet in 2019.

There are more than one species of Morels and many people get them mixed up. That is because their seasons overlap somewhat and there are various shades of each. Even on iNaturalist with several identifiers, if you look through the photos uploaded from others you will see some are possibly misidentified. Many members upload photos and say “Morchella species” without claiming a species name. Of course, I had to use species names because I don’t know any better and want people to think I do. 🙂

Then we come to the subject of the False or RED Morel. A few years ago when I was in the woods along the creek I spotted this odd creature. It looked kind of like a Morel but then again it didn’t. It was sort of a dark reddish-brown and pretty good sized. It was, for lack of a better word, weird. I took a photo with my cell phone (this was 2013 when I had one) and then brought it to the house. I showed dad and his response was, “I don’t know about that. I wouldn’t eat it.” Dad never ate mushrooms of any kind that I am aware of… Not even on pizza. False Morels are considered poisonous but some have eaten them with no side effects. Probably they didn’t know at the time they were poisonous. Even if you don’t get sick and die, they apparently have a carcinogenic chemical… I recommend not trying them.

NICE! The bad thing was that I wasn’t alone. I had to share with four other people! This year I am alone and I did not have to share. 🙂

Back then I thought all Morels were the same. I didn’t know there were different species and barely had heard of the False Morel. So, I didn’t really investigate that weird mushroom. I took dad’s advice and threw it out the door. For the most part, Morels are hollow white the False Morels are not.

Morchella species are found in many countries and several species are endemic to more than one. In the past several years more study has been done. I have read more about them this past week because curiosity got the best of me. Below are just a few of the MANY sites online that provide a wealth of information. There are also plenty of YouTube videos.

Wikipedia

The Great Morel homepage and Morel varieties gallery

The Morchellaceae: True Morels and Verpas (MushroomExpert.Com

MushroomExpert’s homepage is quite exhausting…

iNaturalist

I think I will stop for now…

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Stay well and always be thankful. Get as dirty as you can if the weather is nice.

 

18 comments on “Shhh… Is Anyone Looking?

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Is it bad to . . . borrow the fungi?
    Vinca minor is not naturalized here, but grows politely in landscapes. It stays low though. Vinca major is the more serious weed. There is a bit here, but it does not bother me. In some areas, it covers the ground and gets two feet deep or more.

    Like

  2. bittster says:

    Nice that you found a few, and funny that you search far and wide and then there they are, right outside your door!
    Sounds like you’re enjoying a decent spring this year. Here as well, but two inches of rain are forecast and of course that will be a mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Frank! It seems to always happen that way with the Morels. But I took my camera and identified a lot of wildflowers. We have had plenty of rain and the mud that goes with it. Spring is always good but keeping caught up with the yard and weeds can be a challege. I am sure your yard is coming along nicely. Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Littlesundog says:

    We managed a nice bag of morels this spring. I laughed when you wrote about keeping the location a secret. It seems to be the way of every morel forager to keep the location a secret!! I always have to find that first mushroom and then I tend to spot them easier. It’s amazing how camouflaged they are in nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Laura! They are weird. You can look and look and find nothing then almost miss one when does show up. You are right about finding the first one. It makes you look harder and somewhat slower. Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dayphoto says:

    So very interesting. Thank you…I am enjoying learning from you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pixydeb says:

    Hi Lonnie
    Fungi are so interesting and to me seem to break all the rules – I suppose because they don’t stick to the same growing methods as plants & do crazy stuff like pop up overnight when you aren’t looking!. I first got interested when I found a colony of earth stars in a garden I was working on- they looked amazing – now I can often be found taking close ups of various toadstools when I’m supposed to be working.
    so my interest is visual rather than culinary! I’ve not ever eaten a Morel – what makes it so special ? Nice that it’s a tradition with you & links back to good memories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Debbie! Fungi are always interesting and a bit mysterious in so many ways. What makes a Morel sp special? Hmmm… That is a very good question and finding a good answer has stumped me. I suppose one reason is that they are easily identifiable as being edible. They are very unique in appearance to other mushrooms seen any time of the year, either growing or dried up. Morels are a spring thing and that’s it. So, maybe the excitement of finding one or several to bring home and fry up is one of the special things about them. They have kind of a squishy, meaty texture when you sink your teeth into them. As far as flavor, well it is also unique and I really can’t describe it. Nothing like store-bought button mushrooms. There is nothing quite walking in the woods looking for Morels and finding the first one of the season. Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Like

  6. I am drooling right now! I haven’t had these since going with my dad as a kid! What time’s dinner!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Those look delicious in the skillet! I’ve never seen a yellow Morell.

    Liked by 1 person

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