|Half free morels, Morchella punctipes, feature a stem that is attached halfway up the cap. Other morels have stems
that are attached closer to the bottom of the cap. Can be found in abundance in some years, which is good because
they are rather leggy (more stem than cap). Although, some people love the fried stems as much as the caps.
|It has been determined that there are as many as 19 different species of morel mushrooms in North America.
Taxonomic revision of true morels (Morchella) in Canada and the United States, 2012, Michael Kuo, et al. It is hard
to tell many of these mushrooms apart by looking at them, but there are several groups that have defining
characteristics. In the Midwest, three familiar groups are the black and two yellow morels. Another morel, the
half-free morel, is separated from these groups by its stem/cap attachment. All of these mushrooms are choice
edibles. Found in spring, early April to late May, give or take a week or two. Prime time in southern Indiana is mid
April to mid May.
|In the Midwest, the black morel, Morchella angusticeps, is the first to appear in early April with the spring rains
and warm nights. Seems to have an association with ash and poplar trees, but is also said to be found under a
variety of other trees, including conifers.
|The classic yellow morel, Morchella esculentoides, usually fruits in late April and into mid May. Large finds are often
associated with ash trees, dying elm trees and old apple orchards; can also be found growing under other hardwoods
and conifers. These golden yellow examples have light colored ridges and pits. Warm nights and rain during the
season brings on more mushrooms; cold nights and dry conditions equals fewer mushrooms.
|The poor gray morel has turned out to be a yellow morel in disguise, so says the DNA; but it is
still gray (and mighty tasty, I might add). Studies have shown that the gray morel, with its
dark pits and light ridges, is genetically identical to the classic yellow morel, Morchella
esculentoides. The color variation may represent immature specimens or may be caused by
factors such as climate, substrate and/or tree association. Who knows? Nobody.
|Morchella diminutiva, this creamy yellow to golden yellow morel is
distinguished from the yellow morel by its smaller size and pits that are more
defined and usually vertically arranged. This morel can be found throughout
the morel season. Where can it be found? In the woods.
| Morel Mushrooms, Morchella