Identify Morels

Morel Hunting Morels (Morchellas) aren't your typical mushroom, not only do they not have gills, they look like conical alien brains sitting on poles. Although they look very distinctive there are some toxic forms like the false morel which this short guide will teach you to avoid. Morels are often referred to as the most sought-after mushroom next to truffles and quite rightly, morels are delicious they have a light, nutty, delicate taste which works great with pasta and cheese. For more info please join our new online morel hunting course.

How to identify morels

Key characteristic features of morels which differentiate them from other mushrooms include:

  • Cap - this looks like a conical brain, with a honeycomb lattice, make sure that it looks like it has been well formed or it could be a false morel, more on this later. Don't be put off by the caps color, this can range from brown, grey to black. When picking, make sure to wash the morel before eating small insects have a habit of making a home in the holes.
  • Cap - stem - the stem should stop when the cap begins. You should cut them in half to ensure that the stem doesn't go all the way to the top of the cap, if so discard as it is probably a false morel.
  • Stem - if you pick the mushroom, cut it lengthways in half and you will see that the stem is hollow. Also, true morels usually have stems which are longer than the cap.

Morel size

Watch out for false morels.

The most commonly misidentified mushroom that mushroom hunters find when looking for morels is the false morel. There is a bit of debate over whether false morels are poisonous as people react differently to the mushrooms constituents. False morels have been known to cause sickness, malaise and vomiting and on the odd occasion death! We recommend avoiding them as they can do more harm than good. When you a hunting for morels, these are the false morels key distinguishing features:

  • Mottled, ugly, distorted cap with no ridges.
  • Looks more like a brain - more rounded and wider.
  • Darker orange / red coloration. 
  • Solid inside, often quite heavy in comparison to morel.
  • The stem inside goes all the way to the top of the cap.
  • The false morel's stem is usually filled with cotton-like fibers.
  • With a small twist, the cap will fall right off.
Last modified: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 5:08 AM