I have wanted to write about mushrooms for a while. The goal of these articles are to encourage appreciation of our thousands of local mushroom species. These are not meant to be a picking guide for anyone, just a method of introducing the general public to amateur mycology.

Week One:

Morchella esculenta– The common morel. Morels can be found in large quantities in the Midwest during the springtime. In the Lakes Region, common is a relative term, being the most commonly found species of morel, while morels in general are an elusive mushroom with a very short growing season. I find them between the 2nd and 4th weeks of May, after some warm weather and plenty of rain, usually in the same areas every year. Look for apple orchards, ash trees, black cherry, and old elm. Morels grow in soils with a higher PH than much of our local pine forest. They look like a conical irregular sponge popping up from the leaves, and can be grey, black or yellow in coloration.

Gyromitra esculenta – The False Morel

These are considered a poisonous look-alike to the common morel.  They are often found in sandy soil, under pine, and can look like a large exposed brain!  These mushrooms are very toxic, and can remain toxic even after cooking. Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, coma, and even death. Stay away!

Never attempt to pick and eat wild mushrooms without proper training. There are no general rules for mushroom safety. While coloration, taste, smell, and shape can be used to identify a species, the wives tales of using a silver spoon or a coin are false!  Have a mushroom you want us to try to identify? Send an email.

Keith Garrett
New Hampshire Mushroom Company

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