The Life Cycle of a Morel Mushroom

This video presenting the life cycle of a morel mushroom will get you pumped to head out on your own this season.  

Gearing up to head out into the woods and hunt for wild mushrooms? Before you do, check out this cool video of the lifecycle of a morel mushroom, by Chris Matherly of Morel Mushroom TV and Morel Mushroom Hunting Club.

Filmed over a 15 day period, this time-lapse video follows a mushroom through its lifecycle. The video also dispels some of the common myths associated with the fungus and provides growth charts for the multiple types of morels found in the wild.

The morel mushroom really is amazing. The widespread fungus provides a great entry into foraging for wild edibles and a tasty addition to your wild game cooking toolbox. With their honey-comb-like appearance, identification is pretty simple. About the only mushroom you could confuse a morel with is the Verpa, commonly known as the false morel. Make sure you can tell the difference before you go out in the field on a mushroom hunt.

Regionally, morels go by many local and often colorful names including Hickory Chickens and Dryland Fish due to its profile when sliced and fried sideways, and Miracles based on a legend of a mountain family was saved from starvation by eating the mushrooms.  Other popular names include Molly Moochers and Muggins.

A few quick tips on hunting morel mushrooms:

  • Begin your hunt during the period of spring when daytime highs are in the 60s and nightime lows in the 40s.
  • Start by looking around the base ash and elm trees.
  • Focus on south-facing slopes in the spring and onto north-facing slopes and deeper woods as the season progresses and warms.
  • Watch your step. Morels are excellently camouflaged into the forest floor. Don't crush them.
  • Once you locate your first mushroom. Stop and observe the surrounding area closely. Where there is one, you are bound to find more.
  • When picking, pinch or cut off the base of the morel and pull upwards. DO NOT try to uproot the entire mushroom.
  • When preparing mushrooms, cook them long enough to remove harmful enzymes that could cause a upset stomach or even a trip to the hospital depending on the individual.

Happy hunting!