The long winter has pushed the much anticipated mushroom hunting season just a tad later this year. Foragers have excitedly started flocking to the woods for those early May morels. Mushroom hunting can be competitive in urban areas, so get out early and often to pick the freshest mushies. Here are a few things to remember:

1. Get permission to pick.
Wild morel mushrooms can be sold for a hefty price per pound on the market, so don’t stop into someone’s private property and get all the goodies without asking first. Mushroom hunting is a favorite pastime of the area, so if someone has morels on their property, they likely already know about them. Ask first or simply find another spot.

2. Know where to look.
Morels proliferate in areas with decaying plant matter, like wooded spots with leaves from last fall covering the ground. Since there are different species of morels that like to hang out in different locations, it’s important to know where to go to find what you’re looking for.
For example, the black morel is known to grow near poplar and ash trees, among many others, so trying a wooded area populated with those kinds of trees might aid the search. Most of the time, when you stumble upon a patch of the spongy fungus, it’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Other times, it takes a bit more of a keen eye. Do your research.

3. Go on the right day.
Even the novice mushroom hunter should know what conditions fungus thrive the best in. When the nights are warm and above freezing and there has been light to medium rain, you know that there’s a good chance to find morels or another kind of edible wild mushroom (and there are many that can be found here).
The dryer the weather has been, the lower the chances are that you’ll find any. But as with anything in nature, almost anything is possible.

4. Keep an eye out for different varieties.
There are a handful of different varieties that can be found in the northern Indiana and southern Michigan regions. As mentioned before, there is the black morel. The black morel is one of the first morels that can be found towards the beginning of mushroom season. These can be a little hard to spot, because the caps are a darker color, hence the name.
The classic yellow morel is a species that starts to appear a little later, traditionally in mid-May but could be later still with this year’s weather. These bright yellow fungi like to grow in areas with a bit more heavy decaying going on. Think areas with rotting trees and foliage. They are commonly found near thriving plants, too, so it just really depends on the location.
Another common morel species is the gray morel. The color of these mushrooms most closely resembles that of old decaying leaves, so they can be trickier to spot. The taste of these grey guys is very similar to that of the classic yellow.
Foragers who know and hunt their spots year after year have the advantage of knowing where to find the best mushrooms.

​A mushroom hunt is a fabulous way to find free food and get to know the wooded locales of your area. Even if you don’t find anything (which is common and quite frustrating), you can find satisfaction in knowing that you spent a little time outside. Get out this May to forage for morels and other wild mushrooms, because they’re only around for a limited scope of time! With these tips and a bit more research, you won’t be the sucker buying morels for $35 per pound at the farmer’s market. Happy hunting!

About The Author
Author: Mandi Steffey


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