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Black Morel

Edible Edible
Spring Spring

This popular mushroom is a choice edible but must be well cooked before consumption.
The Black Morel is now very common in man-made habitats.
The scientific name Morchella elata was applied in the past to this and other related species but it’s no longer valid. Morchella importuna is the current name for Black Morels found in wood-chip beds and burnt grounds.
Like other Morels this species varies a lot in size, colour and shape from mushroom to mushroom.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Black Morel (EN), Morel Du (CY), Fakéreg Kucsmagomba (HU)
Scientific Name Morchella importuna
Synonyms Morchella elata, Morchella hortensis
Season Start Mar
Season End May
Average Mushroom height (CM) 10
Average Cap width (CM) 5
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


The cap presents a honeycomb like texture with pits more or less arranged along parallel vertical ridges.
The edges of these ridges become darker (black ) with age in contrast with the paler colour inside the pits.
It is hollow and usually conical in shape, widening towards the bottom.
The colours range from dark olive brown to darker brown or black.


White to cream, bruising ochre or brown with age.
Usually vertically furrowed on the outside. The inside is hollow and wrinkled.
At the top the stem widens to join the edge of the cap, forming a hollow depression, and clearly dividing the stem from the walls of the cap. This gap becomes more pronounced in more mature specimens.


Thin and white on the inside. It has a faint pleasant smell that intensifies with drying.


This mushroom is frequently found in wood-chip beds in gardens, residential estates or around commercial buildings. It is also known to appear in burned forests, disturbed grounds and occasionally under Apple trees.
Closely related similar looking species of Morels also appear in short grass near coniferous trees in calcareous soil or coastal dunes.

Possible Confusion

The False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta), pictured, but this is more lobed or brain-like rather than the pitted and honeycomb like cap of the morel. The False Morel also differs in not having a completely hollow cap.
The Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) can also look similar to those who are unfamiliar with it, but the strong foul smell quickly denounces its identity. It appears in Summer and Autumn when Morels are no longer around.
The Morel (Morchella esculenta) or Common Morel (Morchella vulgaris) can look similar, even in colour, but usually the ridges on the cap of the Black Morel have fairly regular vertical lines unlike the randomly arranged honeycomb of the other two. The ridges on a Black Morel become darker than the rest of the cap, while in Common Morel and Morel they are paler (or sometimes bruise orange red).
The Semifree Morel is very closely related, but it’s easily distinguished by it’s smaller cap that is attached to the stem halfway.

The Black Morel (Morchella importuna) here described and the Semifree Morel (Morchella semilibera) are both part of a wider group colloquially called the “Black Morels”. The “Black Morels” are a large group (technically called a clade or section) of very similar species, and mycologists still  haven’t established exactly how many species exist, their distribution, and how they differ from each other. The forager shouldn’t worry too much about precise distinction as all Black Morels seem to be excellent edibles.
If you find a “Black Morel” with purplish or pinkish tones, not turning black with age, and growing under Pine or other coniferous trees, then you’re likely to have found the Purplish Morel (Morchella purpurascens). Although rare this species has been found in the UK.

Spore Print

Cream. Ellipsoid.

Taste / Smell

Very good, mushroomy and slightly meaty. Must be well cooked before consumption. All Morels are poisonous when raw or undercooked causing gastric upsets and other alarming symptoms.


Increasingly common on wood-chip beds.

Other Facts

The Black Morel of wood-chip beds has become very common and persistent mushroom hunters are rewarded with large amounts each season. On the other hand, the related Black Morel species growing in wild habitats seem rarer and harder to find than any other Morels in the UK. Although wilder collections are tastier than the wood-chip counterparts, they’re still tasty mushrooms and very worth eating. They work well in a variety of recipes, in particular in rich sauces. As pointed above they need to be well cooked, so no lightly tossed Morels.


9 comments for Black Morel

  1. John Byers says:

    I’ve got these growing in my wood chipped borders! Thanks for helping me to identify the species!

    1. diego says:

      lucky you! been looking these for years and never found one!

  2. Glen Stevens says:

    Is picking a mushroom from wood chip considered safe for consumption? For example the wood chip contains yew?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      An interesting question, I would have thought that any amount of toxins would be very slight but that would depend on the amount of yew chippings used. Does anybody have any more info?

  3. Wendy says:

    Once picked will it regenerate as, say, like field mushrooms?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It’s very unlikely, if you found them on woodchip, you might find them next year but they are probably from imported woodchip and don’t seem to survive over here for long, they will be M. importuna, if they are native Black Morels, M. elata, you should find them every year in the same place if the weather conditions are right and they decide to fruit, they are fussy mushrooms.

  4. Clare stoner says:

    I have just found these growing in wood chippings at work. Can’t wait to try them as I have been looking for them in the wild for ages.

  5. Simon says:

    These have started growing in my garden, not in wood chip, but in a gravel border ( I think its these anyway). Im sure there is some sort of wood below the surface, old tree roots or something. Never had them before.

  6. Sam Clark says:

    Was surprised by this growing in my new build front lawn. Will give it a try cooked well and in a salad. Fingers crossed.

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