05-25-11 Mycology Note: Morels and False Morels

Lorinda Hunt's mycology note illustrates the difference between true and false morels found on MPG North.

Posted on 5/25/2011 by Lorinda Bullington

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 MPG North Mycology Note: Black morels and false morels May 25, 2011 Lorinda Hunt Black morels (Morchella elata) and false morels (genus Gyromitra), appear in the early spring and were the first observed mushrooms on MPG North this year. This black morel occurred just east of the entrance marsh; the only true morel observed on the property this year.
Two species of false morels occur on MPG North, conifer false morel (Gyromitra esculenta, left ) and snow mushroom (Gyromitra gigas, below). False morels contain a lethal toxin called gyromitrin that kills red blood cells. With careful preparation some species may be eaten, but complete removal of toxins can be difficult to determine.
Conifer false morels darken in color as they age and sometimes develop a saddle-like shape. The cap hangs down free from the stem, another feature which distinguishes false morels from true morels.