Answers by Roy Reehil
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In the picture above: Honey Mushrooms, Armillaria mellea
Hi, have enjoyed your very informative site on one of my great passions. I do have a couple of quick questions for you and would love it if you could find the time to
1) I have never heard of the smaller "grey" morels as being toxic. I've eaten them for years and have found them to be better tasting than the bigger "yellows". On your site, you warn that may cause an upset stomach, etc. Have I been wrong in eating the greys all these years? Or did I misread?
2) I grew up in Minnesota and had a lot of success with various repeat spots. Since, I have moved to South FLA. I always miss the hunt in the spring. This year, a good friend of mine wants me to visit him in New Haven, VT in mid-May. I have been trying to find out if morels grow as they do in the midwest in that area. That would seem to be the right time for that north of a climate. I always started looking "when the lilacs bloom", and with that latitude, mid May would seem perfect.
Thanks for your time, Eric
Glad to hear from you Eric. Small "grey" morels - as long as they are true morels are fantastic edibles. I'm not sure where you got the idea that they were not so I went back to my main article on morels and made a few additions regarding color: "Don't be misled by the common names of these mushrooms referring to colors, particularly Morchella esculenta, the "Yellow" morel. It appears in a wide variety of colors, from light gray to dark gray, light tan to golden brown, pale yellow to yellow to dark brown. The shape of the cap can vary as well, from tall slender and pointed to short squat and round. Some mycologists argue that there are different species or sub-species in this group but if you find a mushroom in the Spring with a honey combed, pitted cap you have a pretty sure indicator that you have a morel, whatever the taxonomic name is." Perhaps your "grey" morel reference is to what I call the "Early Morels," mushrooms from the genera Gyromitra, Verpa and Helvella, which may contain traces of the toxic compounds known as hydrazines. We have some great field guides available in the bookstore if you want to learn more. As always with wild mushrooms, when in doubt throw them out!!!!
I think your premise about Vermont morels in mid-May is probably well founded. Any Vermonters out there want to coment? Best of luck up there and let us know how you do.Happy hunting,
I was pleased to come across your internet article on morels. It was most informative as I've
discovered a few in a wooded area at my home. The specimens in my yard
Thanks for the reply. I'll tend to my few little morels another week
before the harvest.
We have suddenly started sprouting what appear to be morels in a shaded lawn area under a very old apple tree in our suburban yard. (Evanston, IL just north of Chicago) They range in size from approximately 6 inches tall(cap and stem to the ground) X 2.5 inches in diameter and are a light tan color on the outer cap. I have three questions:
1) These look exactly like the photos of morels I have seen and if they are morels I would love to eat them, but are there any distinguishing characteristics which would warn me not to eat them. If they are morels, at what size should they be cultivated?
2) Are they likely to return next year? or can I cultivate them in any way?
3) Does this indicate that my apple tree is dying?
Here's Dave Fischer's response to the same questions (much more scientific I might add.)
1) These look exactly like the photos of morels I have seen and if they
2) Are they likely to return next year? or can I cultivate them in any way?
3) Does this indicate that my apple tree is dying?
Here's an inquiry with an unhappy ending!
LAURA: you don't want to hear this, but, impossible as this may seem... DO NOT EAT THOSE RAILROAD-TRACK MORELS. Railroad rights-of-way, like power line ROWs, are typically kept clear of vegetation with the aid of liberal doses of inorganic chemical herbicides. On top of that, who knows what leaks in "moderate" amounts from all those liquid chemical tanks whose occasional derailments force evacuations. I can only repeat, DO NOT EAT THOSE RAILROAD-TRACK MORELS. I beg you. Read "Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America," chapter 4 (p. 17), "The Mycophagist's Ten Commandments," #6...
To: Xerula (AKA Dave Fischer)
damndamndamn - this RR track thing. You see, I have mixed ALL of my
morels from the past few days together. There are SOME I might be able to tell are from
the RR tracks, but.......tell me more. What exactly do they use on the side of the tracks?
Don't you think the heavy gravel is the method they use to precent vegetative growth? Is
it the same as a pesticide, or something much more intense? What's the worst that could
happen? There were houses all along the tracks as well (well, across the road, perhaps 100
feet away). Would they still use these chemicals? I did notice the RR track morels were
grayer than the ones I picked earlier in the woods. I REALLY would like to not have to
throw out ALL of my findings! Thanks for the advice though - i sure learned a lesson....
I don't know exactly what they use on the RR
tracks, except that they are naughty inorganic chemical herbicides. Comparing herbicides
to pesticides is a moot point... it depends on the specific chemical agents involved. And
yes, the railroads use the heavy gravel for several reasons, including erosion prevention
and inhibition of growth of plants, but they also routinely use plenty of herbicides, for
it is economically impossible to have people "weeding" along railroad tracks and
relatively inexpensive to send through an herbicide-misting car. And no, nearby houses do
*not* stop them from using herbicides; the houses are never close enough to justify that.
IN FACT, some fungi are actually now being used to
decontaminate areas such as abandoned copper strip mines.
From: Louis, May 8
On May 7 I found three False Morels---specifically, Gyromitra esculenta---growing on very sandy soil near pines and white birch. This was in Schenectady.
1) Based on this, about how long until the first morels appear in my area?
2) Are Black Morels commonly found in the same habitats as Gyromitra
Good questions. I've kept track of the dates that I've found Gyromitra esculenta and Black Morels for the last three years... I was just waiting for you to ask this! If the weather remains damp Half-free morels (Morchella semilibera) should be popping up now with black morels (Morchella elata). Yellow morels (Morchella esculenta) will generally be 5-15 days behind. Hope it stays warm and wet! G. esculenta is a timing indicator yes... but as a location indicator, I'm less sure. The sandy soil sounds good but the trees don't. Look for hillsides nearby... with old apples, elms, poplars, ash trees, and cottonwoods.
On the subject of Gyromitra, Verpa and other "Early Morels"
Anyone finding any Verpas yet? Verpa Bohemica should be coming
up in Seattle in about 2 weeks, so they must be coming up somewhere by now.
-Jim , BFD
I live in Northcentral Washington state, and have collected "Early Morels" ("Verpa's"), the "Edible Morel" (Morchella esculenta's), and the "Narrow-capped Morel" (Morchella augusticeps), for years and years...with my parents and brothers and sister. I have a book called: "The Savory Wild Mushroom" by Margaret McKenny copyrighted 1962, that refers to most of the edible mushrooms of this area. The other day at work, a coworker and I were talking about gathering morels, and she mentioned being told by another source, to be careful not to get any "False Morels" mixed in with her collection, because they were deadly poison, and looked very mush like the "good" ones. Well, I commented that I have never heard of a "poisonous morel" or a correctly-identified "False morel". BTW, our family has ate these morels for years, as I stated, with no ill effects...love them.. Are there any of these "poisonous morels, or false morels" anywhere to be found? If so are there any good "Color Photos" of them on the web or any books on such?
Morels" you describe other then any in the genus Morchella are mushrooms of
the genus Verpa and Gyromitra. Though you and your family have eaten
some of these mushrooms for many years without incident, you may want to reconsider future
From: Lisa May 3rd
Yesterday my friend and
I found a ton of what we thought were morels, although I did not think they looked quite
like the ones I had found last year. My friend asked someone who said they were called
"caps" and that her family ate them although one son had gotten ill. Well while
he was in the process of cooking them up, I got online for more information. I discovered
that what we picked were Verpa bohemica (pictured right) or Early Morels. So I started printing the information all the while
worrying that my friend was dead. I called him as soon as I got off line just as he was
sitting down to a plate of sauted mushrooms. I convinced him not to eat them. So, did I
save his life? I told him that he owes me big time!!! Just exactly what would happen to a
person who consumed this species????
Your friend might have enjoyed a delicious meal
but, if he was allergic to the toxins in those mushrooms it might have been his last.
Chances are though, that you simply saved him from a nasty upset stomach. In any case you
did the right thing.
Found black morels on Easter weekend, earliest I have found them in over
6 yrs. of hunting. We here are avid hunters in the woods of S.W. Pa., and we usually have
a good season. Most of what we find are under poplar, apple, and wild cherry but some have
been found under pine. From now to end of May we will be "shrooming" to our
hearts content. My buddy Stu sez it's a pressure thing, the way they grow, that they get
as big as they're going to in a very short time and that a small one if left alone will
not become larger with time, and indeed will probably rot, get picked by someone else, or
get eaten by a wild turkey if left alone. Anyone with any thoughts on this?
Sulfur shelf or Chicken Mushroom
From: Jia Li
Several months ago, my sister suddenly became enthusiastic about wild mushroom hunting. She told me that many of her friends from Europe hunted mushrooms regularly and that she often joined them. So on a regular fall day we scoured the forest floor in a park near my house for chanterelles. Instead of finding chanterelles, we came upon two beautiful mushrooms. A giant orange mushroom with yellow frilled petals lay at the foot of a decaying tree while a much smaller white spotted yellow mushroom grew a few feet away. Even though we suspected the orange mushroom of being a chicken mushroom we did not harvest it since my sister and I were both inexperienced in identifying mushrooms. As for the yellow mushroom, it looked too pretty to be edible. When we visited a book shop later that day, amazingly an identical photograph of the chicken mushroom was on the cover of Petersons Field Guide. Then we read that it was categorized as choice for edibility. The other mushroom, hoever, was in the amanita family. I'm glad we didn't touch that one. So we ran back to the woods and harvested the chicken mushroom which turned out to be two feet in diameter and about four pounds! My sister brought it to her workplace where there were many mushroom enthusiasts. Someone cooked it at they all ate it the next day. I asked them how it tasted. The unanimous response was, "Chicken!" That's what sparked my interest and ever since, I've been noting all the mushrooms that are in my park.
I find edible boletes (which I don't eat) with slugs and insect infestation. I almost never find them in good condition. Any suggestions (location is Adirondacks) or is this just not-good luck with boletes.
Thank you , Jayne.
From: Sid Lanier
Some of the best tasting mushrooms I have ever had came in a little package labeled Dried Yellow Boletus. They were actually very yellow, unlike the usual dried porcini. They had a wonderful aroma, and were unexcelled in a risotto or a sauce for steak, etc. My question is: Does anyone know which boletus species this "yellow boletus" of commerce might be? I found them several years ago in a gourmet food store, but have not seen them recently. They were packaged by Urbani? or Ubena?...something like that. If I knew the species I could pick my own, and dry them. Thanks.
I need some help please regarding some mushrooms that are growing in my front yard. The mushrooms are extremely smelly. The very site of them makes my neighbors and I want to throw up. I also think they are causing my husbands headaches. The mushrooms are shaped like (and this is the only way to describe them) penis's. They are even pushing through the pavement . Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Joelle
From: Vladimir Jaffe
I used to be an avid mushroom hunter since I was about 10 years old when I was living behind the Iron Curtain near Moscow.
Ever since I emigrated to the United States some 8 years ago I never had a chance to exercise my lifelong obsession with mushroom picking.
Could anyone advise where mushrooms, especially Boletus Edulis, could be found in large enough quantities anywhere within a 2-3 hour drive from New York City?
I will greatly appreciate any advise.
I've had good luck finding Boletus edulis (AKA:
Porcini or Cep) in groves of Norway Spruce anytime from late July to October.
Long Island Mycological Club
Mid Hudson Mycological Association
New York Mycological Society
New Jersey Mycological Association
What do you think out there? Can anybody from the NY area help Vlad? Send email so we don't let that concrete jungle keep Vlad from his lifelong obsession!
I'm interested in a nutritional component breakdown for various kinds of
mushrooms, both wild and cultivated.
I know it's not much but that's all I have. Anybody out there have more info?
I am having a terrible time finding a
reference to this mushroom, photo enclosed, an Oyster? I found 40lbs growing on a group of
dead Jack pines? Please help, location Southcentral Wisconsin
Looks like you have Polyporous squamosus,
the "Pheasant's Back" AKA Dryad's saddle.It's on page 123 of Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America. It
should have a white pore surface on the bottom and when you break a piece off it should
have a faint odor of watermellon.
Hope that helps. Best of luck
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