I have written in the past about a wonderful wild leek that we pick wild and eat hear in West Virginia called Ramps.But there is another wonderful thing of the wild that we love to hunt and consume this time of the year as well. What are these delicious delicacies? These are a wild mushroom called "Molly Moochers" or Morel mushrooms. Actually they have a few names, Morchella, Merkel, Sponge Mushroom, Dry Land Fish, Pine Cone Mushrooms and Hickory Chicks!
Morel mushrooms grow in many forests in West Virginia. Mushroom hunters find black morels under hickory and poplar trees, while yellow morels often grow under Eastern pines. Mushrooms thrive in damp locations or areas where a fire recently occurred. Commonly known as sponge mushrooms and molly moochers, true morel mushrooms have hollow stalks and caps with distinct ridges. Like all mushrooms, true morels are fungi. Their caps contain spores, and when the spores fall to the ground, they germinate and enable reproduction.
Be careful though there are imposters and you don't want to eat them! Before consuming a mushroom, make sure it is not a false morel. False morel mushrooms are poisonous, and eating them may make you very sick or even kill you. Only true morels are edible.There are several recognizable differences. False morel mushrooms have brain-like lobes and chambered stalks, and they often grow under white pine trees.
According to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources more than 1,700 species of mushrooms grow in fields and wooded areas of the state. Six varieties of morels have been documented growing in deciduous forests throughout the state during a brief period between mid-April and mid-May. If you are planning to hunt morels, do your homework or hunt with a knowledgeable person to avoid collecting the poisonous conifer false morel.
The season is really short:
You need to get in the woods early and fast! Springtime mushroom hunting starts just after the cold winter has subsided and dying tree limbs lay scattered, with the delectable morel being found before other wild varieties come into season. Late April and May are the best months in West Virginia to find morels.
So what types of area and soil do they like? I mentioned earlier a little of this but they really like dead and dying apple orchards and places where forest fire has burned trees support the heaviest concentrations of morels, especially if limestone is exposed above ground in these areas. They can be hidden in deep leaf litter of poplar, maples, ash, oak, pine, cottonwood and aspen trees and grow best under dead elm logs. Morels favor sandy soil with a bit of limestone. You will not find them in wet areas, although a rain can trigger fruiting.
Well I hope you have a great time finding and trying a new type of mushroom. I know they are one of the spring time wonders that push people into the woods around these parts!
I found a really good Beginners Guide Article on "Filed and Stream" that is a very helpful tool!
"A Beginner's Guide to Hunting Morel Mushrooms".
LHITS DIY Linky, Farm Girl Friday, The Homestead Hop, Home and Garden Thursday, DHBH,