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Real vs. False Morel Mushrooms: Can You Tell the Difference?

Knowing the difference could save you a trip to the hospital.

One thing many of us look forward to after a long winter is the chance to head up into the woods on the hunt for morels. Although pretty easy to identify, true morels do have some sneaky and poisonous look-alikes known as a “false morel.”

The term “false morel” is used to identify a few species of mushrooms that bare some resemblance to true morels, but contain a toxin known as monomethyl hydrazine, a chemical that can cause dizziness, vomiting and in extreme cases death.

Before you head out on your morel hunt, take a few minutes and watch this video from Jerry Rosa at Rosa String Works where he shows you the difference between a true morel and a false morel.

Here are a couple points of comparison for you to keep in mind when in the field looking for morels.

  • True morels have a cap covered in pits and ridges, while a false morel cap appears more wavy and lobed.
  • The true morel has a more uniformly shaped cap that is often longer than the stem. The cap of a false morel typically has a irregular shape and almost appears “squashed.”
  • The cap of the true morel is attached directly to the stem. The false morels cap hangs freely off the stem.
  • The inside the stem of a true morel is hollow. The stem of a false morel will be filled with fibers or chunks of tissue.

Watch the video, take a some identification notes, and hit your super-secret morel spot in confidence. Good luck!

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Real vs. False Morel Mushrooms: Can You Tell the Difference?