Yellow Morel

Spring Peeper frog sits on the shadow of yellow morel mushrooms.
Yellow Morel

Minnesota State Mushroom: Morel

Ah, the morel—the most coveted mushroom in Minnesota, and deservedly the State Mushroom. You know who your true friends are if they are willing to share not just the bounty of their spring mushrooming, but also where to find them. Fishermen with their secret lakes have nothing on the mushroom hunters and their secret morel groves.

Only a few mushrooms can be mistaken for a morel, but the differences are easy to spot. Deadly false morels are reddish, lumpy, brain-like masses, whereas the true morel has an elongated cone shape with honeycomb-like pits—pretty hard to mistake. Semi-edible (it won’t kill you, but not recommended*) Verpa bohemica, known as the early morel, looks much more the part, but the cap dangles around the stem from where it attaches at the very top, and the stem is filled with cottony fiber. A true morel is hollow from base to tip, and the honeycombing grows directly out of the stem.

*People eat them, but they are known for causing gastrointestinal distress. I remember as a kid, we found a whole bunch one year, not knowing they weren’t true morels. They tasted okay (according to my mother—this picky eater wouldn’t have let them within a yard of my plate), but Mom ended up with migraines afterward.