Mushrooms Are Popping

| 4/15/2014 9:25:00 AM

Country MoonSoon they’ll be popping up everywhere – mushrooms that is! There is no middle of the road here, either you love these delectable fungi or you detest them.

Also known by such names as “Molly Moochers,” “Miracles,” “Dryland Fish” and “Hickory Chickens,” morels are America’s mushroom. It all depends on the weather, but usually their growing season spans just the early spring. They are found all across the country where growing conditions are right. Air temperature, ground temperature and rain levels affect the growing cycle.

A mushroom, by definition, is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. Doesn’t that tempt your tastebuds! They don’t grow in the usual sense of the word like plants do. Rather, they expand by breaking down dead plants much the same as compost piles do. Their cells balloon up so, seemingly overnight, they can go from a pinhead to a large mushroom.

Some people have actually reported seeing them “pop up” right before their eyes. I have my own theory on this. Ever since I was a kid I have been going mushrooming, sometimes by myself and sometimes with expert hunters. No matter, I go but I don’t find them. I can scour over an area and come up empty and someone else can look the same place and find a dozen. I think that as quick as they pop out of the ground they also pop back under the ground, like a teaser. After all, morels are part of the funky fungus family.

Because of this fact, it is critical to be able to identify the good morels from the bad. The edible type has a conical shape and the bottom of the cap is attached near the bottom of the stem. Avoid the ones that are attached closer to the top, like an umbrella. These may not be deadly, but can certainly cause gastrointestinal distress.

MushroomsThe best places to hunt morels are around dead trees where the bark is falling off and in old apple orchards. They are particularly prone to the soil around elm, ash and aspen trees. Of course, in the spring, the dead leaves covering the ground are the same color as the mushrooms, so they all blend.

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