Last night I got home late - after 8 PM. The dog was chompin' at the bit to go out, so I looped leash around his neck and out we went. He gave a good long watering to the grass under the birdfeeders, and we struck out for the mailbox. As we crossed the lawn, I looked down and there are my feet was this wrinkly mushroom:
Oo! Is that a morel? I looked around, and there was another one. After much debate, I dragged the dog to the car, grabbed the camera, and started to photograph them.
I recalled the false morel Gary had shown us during the Work Bee a couple weeks ago, so I turned the mushroom over to check. Sure enough, the stem attached to the base of the cap - this was the real thing.
I wandered back and forth across the yard, looking for more. There was one! And another!
Soon I had a whole bowl full of morels.
These particular morels are yellow morels (Morchella esculenta), apparently sometimes called white morels. There are also black morels. These are the edible ones. They can be identified by the stem/cap setup described above, but also, if you cut them in half lenghtwise, they are hollow inside.
There is also the half-free morel, which is connected to the stem about half-way up the inside of the cap. These are also edible. For a good description, visit the Michigan Morels website.
False morels, and beefsteak morels, are poisonous. They are solid inside, the cap is attached to the stem way up at the top interior part of the cap, and they are not considered pitted, just wrinkly.
From The Great Morel Page, I've swiped the following information about these mushrooms: Typically they are found in moist areas, around dying or dead Elm trees, Sycamore and Ash trees, old apple orchards and maybe even in your own back yard. Ground cover varies and it is very likely that each patch of mushrooms you come across may be growing in totally different conditions. It is a common practice of shoomer's to hit their favorite spots year after year.
This has been a rather wet spring, and I've been hearing people talk about collecting morels for about a month now - it is apparently quite the thing to do here in Michigan. As I've said before, I'm not much of a mushroom person, but I do enjoy finding and photographing them, and if I can harvest them for the enjoyment of my friends, I am happy to do so. Therefore, I join the ranks of many Michiganders in being delighted to find these epicurean delights growing on my own property...and I was able to add one more thing to my life list of found natural objects.