Morel Mushrooms Under Dead Elm Trees

| 3/3/2009 4:57:00 PM

A portrait of the author, Caleb ReganMorel mushrooms, and the hunting of this genus, are two of my mother’s favorite things. It even makes spring that much better. From an early age, I remember heading out on horseback – or my mom heading out on horseback alone – and returning with IGA grocery bags full of the sponge-like, porous plant that was, and still is, a delicacy in our home.

There was nothing better than a mess of morels, floured and fried, to go along with a fresh mess of spring, cold-water fish.

Later on, after we’d left the farm, I lived with my mom for the summer before leaving for college, and it was during that summer that she showed me her secret to hunting morel mushrooms – dead elm trees. It had never been brought up when I was a boy, since we had our spots on the farm and they seldom disappointed.

Her tactics during that summer still bring a smile to my face. Driving around, parking and walking to dead elms spotted from a distance, she’d mention the “Spirit World” as we approached. The Spirit World was her equivalent of being in a very attentive zone, scouring the forest floor. It was in this zone that we’d be as we thoroughly searched the timber floor. Once you found that first morel, more were sure to be in the vicinity.

Morel mushroom in early springThe sunlight hitting the mushrooms makes them almost translucent. Also, the time of year – the foliage is usually a shade of brown before spring brings everything to bloom – makes them difficult to spot.

After we’d walk and come upon one, and then many, the joy and fury of the search only intensified.

Laurina Trent
6/8/2013 2:42:56 AM

so how do you know if the morel is real or poison

Hans Quistorff
5/16/2013 5:42:28 PM

I was living on property with sandy soil in the orchard and a maple grove up the hill. I covered my planting areas with cardboard maple leaves on top to prepare for next years planting. The morel spore must have been in the cardboard. That spring along each seam between the pieces of cardboard was a line of morels. I had 2 5galon buckets full. I sliced them into rings and put them in the dehydrator. They lasted for a couple of years in closed jars.

5/3/2009 11:56:24 AM

I agree with Lori! I've lived in this small rural area of Iowa for only 23 yrs. so am a relative newcomer. Wildlife refuge across the road is like a Wal Mart parking lot this time of yr. but I just can't see those mushrooms....and NOBODY is giving even the slightest hints and information. I just want a few!!! Whine. Whine.

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