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Common Morel

Edible Edible
Spring Spring

A very tasty mushroom but as with all Morels it must be well cooked before consumption.
This mushroom has gone through some scientific name changes but has now settled on Morchella vulgaris. It has been often confused with forms of the Yellow Morel to which is very closely related.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Common Morel, Grey Morel
Scientific Name Morchella vulgaris
Synonyms Morchella esculenta
Season Start Mar
Season End May
Average Mushroom height (CM) 20
Average Cap width (CM) 15
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Cap

Conical or ovate with a network of irregular ridges and pits arranged like labyrinths. The pits usually aren’t has polygonal shaped (honeycomb like) as the ones of the Yellow Morel. The cap is hollow and joined to the stem at its edge.
The cap usually remains grey to dark grey for a long time before becoming paler, light brown or ochraceous grey, or occasionally creamy white. The ridges are thick and lighter coloured, specially white when young
The Common Morel is highly variable so size and colour can vary greatly within this particular mushroom.

Stem

White/cream, more or less hollow, with uneven furrows run vertically up the stem.
It’s usually much thicker towards the base in a shape that is often compared to an elephant foot.

Flesh

Fairly thin and white on the inside. With a faint pleasant smell that intensifies after drying.

Habitat

Woodland, pastures, gardens, wasteland, on verges and even on dunes. Usually under trees or associated with woody plants. It seems to have a preference for poor alkaline soils such as chalk and limestone.

Possible Confusion

The False Morel, 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 Black Morel can look similar, even in colour when young, but usually the ridges are arranged in fairly regular vertical lines, unlike the irregular pits of the Common Morel. The ridges on the Black Morel also become darker than the rest of the cap with age, unlike the paler ridges of the Common Morel.
The Yellow Morel is very closely related, it is more yellow in colour from an early stage. The Yellow Morel has thinner edges and polygonal shaped pits looking more honeycomb like than the labyrinthic pits of the Common Morel. Intermediate forms exist that may be hard to differentiate. The Common Morel, Morchella vulgaris, is actually part of the “Yellow Morels” group.  The “Yellow 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 about precise distinction as all Yellow Morels seem to be excellent edibles.

Spore Print

Pale cream to yellow. Ellipsoid.

Taste / Smell

Very good but requires thorough cleaning to remove mud, debris and insects. A good mushroom to dehydrate. Must be well cooked before consumption. All Morels are poisonous when raw or undercooked causing gastric upsets and other alarming symptoms.

Frequency

Uncommon find.

Other Facts

While highly sought after, this can be a difficult mushroom to go out looking for and is usually found accidentally while looking for other edibles.
Although there are recipes at the bottom of the page the Common Morel is such a delicious and hard to find mushroom that it is best simply cooked in butter and seasoned. As pointed above it just needs to be well cooked, so no lightly tossed Morels.

COMMENTS

19 comments for Common Morel

  1. Dan Meyer says:

    Very informative. I absolutely love the morel.
    Its been years since I’ve tasted one.
    I want to go hunting. Know of any spots near Sioux City IA
    .

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      We’re based in Hereford, UK, so can’t help much I’m afraid..

  2. Baz94 says:

    Just learnt about these. Are they found all across the UK? Thanks

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Hi Baz94, they can be found around the UK but are not common, the Black Morel seems to be the most common now growing in the wood chip around some superstores.

      1. Steve says:

        Last year my daughter spotted a morel patch while we were out walking, can’t wait to revisit our ‘secret’ spot this spring!

  3. cameron says:

    excellent site. so happy i have found you while now adventuring into foraging. thank you for all your hard work team.

  4. David says:

    Where are Morel mushrooms likely to be found in Devon UK?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Morels like growing with elm trees but will grow with other species, black morels can be found growing in woodchip around garden centres and industrial estates but morels are very elusive and I don’t find them every year.

  5. Mickey says:

    I live in Virginia and just spotted it under my apple tree. Here it is March, just like it says and there are three of them.

  6. Dave says:

    I found a single one growing 2 minutes walk from my house a few days ago whilst out for a walk with my family. At the time I didn’t have a clue what it was as I’ve just started foraging (I wasn’t even looking for mushrooms at the time), but I shall be paying very close attention to the area I found it and the surrounding areas in future!

  7. Rosi Labrum says:

    We recently replanted a front bed and covered it with bark.
    Today we found a beautiful Morel growing!
    What great luck!

  8. Daniel Pigden says:

    Has anyone ever found them in Kent? Would pine forests be a good place to look?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      They grow all over the UK but seem very random where they will fruit, I have found them in gardens, in a gravel car park and growing in a small concrete alleyway.

  9. Nick Williams says:

    Found them growing in the woodchip in my wooded shady garden on the clalky downs in Brighton, UK. So excited.

  10. Richard Sharpey says:

    Hi Poppy, just discovered 8 morel mushrooms growing in our front garden in Ross, looking online to identify them and found your post, how interesting, but we shan’t eat them!

  11. lolly says:

    my neighbour just found loads in her front garden where she put bark chippings last year

  12. Louisa says:

    I have discovered a clump of Morels in my garden in Hampshire UK.
    Recently had an extension built and the are growing in poor soil in a south facing garden against a wall. So chuffed to see them but I won’t eat them.

  13. Leslie A says:

    Is spring the typical season for morels?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It is the only time you will find Morels.

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