Finding the elusive morel can be quite the adventure. Learn where to find morel mushrooms through the United States.
Morel mushrooms are a delicious and highly sought-after culinary mushroom. Many people ask and reach out about trying to cultivate morel mushrooms. The better question is where to find morel mushrooms, as this mushroom is extremely difficult to cultivate. The life cycle of morels is completely different from most of the mushrooms that we commonly produce. This creates a lot of confusion about how to properly grow morels. It simply isn't the same as most other mushrooms. Morel's ecological role is still not completely understood. It isn't clear if this mushroom is mycorrhizal or saprophytic and what substrates it really likes to grow on. It seems to come up in a wide range of areas, substrates, and likely when you might least expect it. For all of these reasons it is best to forage for morels and find out where they are in your area.
Where to find morel mushrooms in the Northeast
Here in the northeast morels are not very common. Morels will show up sporadically in mulched flower beds, under old apple trees, and around the base of dying elms. With elms, Flammulina velutipes fruiting in the fall/winter can be a good sign that this spot is good for finding morel mushrooms. Dead or dying elms can be a common substrate for enoki, indicating that morels may also be using this tree for its food source. Amazing that two distinct edible fungi can potentially be using one individual tree for their food source. Old apple orchards are another good place to look in the northeast, unfortunately these are also usually covered with briars, poison ivy, and may have excessive pesticide use in the past. Worth it for a couple of morels? Questionable. In the Berkshires of Massachusetts, morels tend to fruit a little bit more abundantly, likely because of the lower pH soils. If you really want to find morel mushrooms though it is best to travel west to the midwest or west coast.
At our farm in Amherst, MA, about 3 years after introducing a lot of cultivated mushrooms like shiitake, oyster, and wine cap, morels started fruiting all over the property. They fruited right under our shiitake logs in the woods, as well as on the lawn. Typically fruiting starts near the end of April through mid-to-late May, depending on the year.
Finding morel mushrooms in the Midwest
Some people have a nose for finding morel mushrooms Morels grow in such a wide range of habitats that it is hard to rule any out. They will grow under a lot of different trees or outside of a forest in grass. It seems they are primarily using the soil as a food source. When soil temperatures hit the right level then they begin to fruit. The window to even think about finding morel mushrooms is relatively short, about 3 weeks in a given area. In the midwest, Missouri and Illinois morels can fruit in quiet abundance. Going out in early May to look for morels in mixed habitats is a great way to find them. Joining a club, morel festival, or guided walk like this one can be a great way to get out and learn about finding morel mushrooms. Many of these occur at the beginning of May. If you really want to know where to find a plethora of morel mushrooms, heading to the west coast is your best option