Morel Season a Bust?

Published on: Apr. 21, 2010

A week or two ago, newspaper columnist Ken White raised the question of what had happened to morels this year. At the time, I was still working on optimism and commented that it was too early to count mushrooms out. All we needed was a good warm rain and they would be popping. The rain has been slow coming, and everyone I talk to agrees with Ken’s assessment that this is a bad year for morels. The weather forecast shows a 40- to 70-percent chance of rain during the next four days, and temperatures in the mid-70s, so I’m still clinging to hope.

Morel mushroomsSince I have nothing to report about finding morels, I’ll settle for passing on a cool item from the Missouri Mycological (science jargon for “fungus”) Society. MoMS’ latest newsletter has an article written by Joe Walsh, who describes finding several ebony-colored morels. One pair was the size of beer cans. All were growing in shaded locations. That seemed to support a theory Walsh had heard--that morels turn yellow in response to sun exposure. Walsh also tells of finding a pair of morels, joined at the base, growing beneath a dense gooseberry bush. Their position caused one to be in perpetual shade, while the other was always in sunlight. “The shady one was a very dark chocolate-brown color,” wrote Walsh, “and the sunny one was a bright golden yellow.”

Could this be a survival strategy? Do morels hide a few shady ‘shrooms from hunters with camouflage?

You can read this article and others on the MoMS website,

By the way, the photo with this post shows two small, gray morels--not the big yellows Walsh described. I don’t have any photos of dark ones.


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