Morchella esculenta

Morchella esculenta
Image Courtesy of Peter Katsaros
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Group of Fungi: Morels

Family: Morchellaceae

Latin Name: Morchella esculenta (L.) Pers.

Common Name: Common Morel

Description: Total height 2–6 in (5–15 cm), consisting of a honeycomb-like or sponge-like cap held aloft on a cylindrical stalk, cap 5/8–1 1/4 (1.5–3 cm) wide and 5/8–2 in (1.5–5 cm) long, oval to more often elongated, yellow-brown to tan with the pits in the cap lighter in color; stalk 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) long, 5/8–1 in (1.5–2.5 cm) in diameter, with distinct ribs or furrows and somewhat enlarged at the base, hollow, white to pale yellow-brown; spores buff to orange-buff in mass.

Biological Role: Often listed as decomposers of litter and humus, but there is some evidence that morels can form mycorrhizal associations with forest trees.

Habitat: On the ground in broadleaf forests; solitary or occurring in small or large groups.

Geographical Distribution: Found throughout North America.

Comments: Unlike most of the larger fungi, morels fruit in the spring. The common morel (also called the yellow morel) is the most commonly collected edible fungus in North America. Numbers of fruiting bodies vary considerably from year to year, but in some years they can be abundant. Morels should always be cooked and never consumed raw.

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