Observation 133037: Morchella Dill. ex Pers.

When: 2013-05-06

Collection location: Teaticket, Falmouth, Massachusetts, USA [Click for map]

Who: Nathan Wilson (nathan)

Specimen available

Growing on the border of a mulched area (mulched the previous summer) and a shell covered driveway (which are common on Cape Cod). Scent was the typical rich, mushroom odor I associate with morels. I’ve looked at a couple of sections under a scope and interestingly haven’t spotted any spores yet. Don’t know if they are too mature, not mature enough, or sterile. I’m taking a spore prints as well.

The mature specimens were dry along the edges, but the areas inside the pits were still fresh.

Proposed Names

65% (2)
Eye3 Eyes3
Recognized by sight: Typically pitted cap with a smooth hollow stipe.
63% (3)
Recognized by sight: Ladder like ridges and landscaped habitat.

Please login to propose your own names and vote on existing names.

Eye3 = Observer’s choice
Eyes3 = Current consensus


Add Comment
Ha ha ha! Joke’s on me!
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-10 01:53:10 CDT (-0400)

Within 12 hours of my posting a comment about M. esculentoides fruiting in live hardwood forests, but not as prolifically as it occurs under dead/dying elm/apple, I ran across this.

Of course the problem is that I had angered the gods of morels by claiming to know their secrets. A problem I can live with :-)

The idea that I have heard put forth…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-09 10:06:50 CDT (-0400)

about the morchella fruiting near live (presumably healthy) trees goes like this. When the trees are ready to bud and leaf out, nutrients are tapped for this purpose. The result is a temporary nutrient deficit for the associated fungus. So the reproductive mechanism is stimulated in way that is similar to when the tree is dying… except not to the same extent.

Thank you Dave and Rocky.
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-09 02:44:14 CDT (-0400)

But I did not originate that theory. Give credit to Nancy Smith-Weber. Makes sense, though.

Still trying to make sense of Morchella, especially when they are found near living trees. I sometimes find them on the sides of gravel roads; other times in roadbeds when seedling trees. At time like that, difficult to determine whether the fungi are mycorrhizal, or saprophytic on buried wood.

Agreed. Nice explanation, Dan.
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-09 02:22:06 CDT (-0400)

This is why I wonder about the possibility of fire morels being the sudden manifestation of an long-standing fungal association with the trees that have been suddenly stressed/killed by the fire.

By: Rocky Houghtby
2013-05-08 15:06:24 CDT (-0400)

explanation, Dan.

Mycorrhizal fungi
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-08 15:02:49 CDT (-0400)

may not fruit prolifically until their host is under stress. Then, they can absorb most if not all the nutrients provided by the host tree to produce a sudden bloom of fungi in order to ensure dispersal.

Many plants do the same thing. Faced with eminent extinction, they may produce many more cones or flowers, produce more seeds or in some other way propogate.

Mycorrhizal fungi are dependent on host plants. The fungus cannot produce sugars themselves. Fungi absorb those sugars from host plants. Nor do they always produce fruiting bodies. Some mycorrhizal fungi “bloom” only once in 40-50 years, if then. But the fungi survive with the roots of the trees. When the tree becomes so stressed it nears death, all the remaining energy may be donated to the mycorrhizal fungi, and result in extraordinary flushes (fruitings).

Part of observing in nature is observing the ebb and flow of life. Many people associate mycorrhizal fungi with only healthy trees. Sometimes they associate most prolifically with recently trees dead within the last year.

Some healthy orchards get morels.
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-08 00:29:14 CDT (-0400)

But the truly prolific esculentoides fruitings around apple trees occur when the tree is just about to die, or has just completely died. Apple trees die slowly. Decent numbers of morels occur around a dying tree for 5-15 years preceding the couple of large fruitings that produce the last mushrooms.

Elm morels (esculentoides) are more extreme. Few morels are found around live elms. Dutch elm disease tends to kill the trees quickly, usually when a tree is in the 20-35 foot tall range. So every spring there are newly dead elms that one seeks out for the prolific morel frutings.

Interesting supposition.
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-07 21:26:32 CDT (-0400)

In lignicolous fungi, bark acts as the casing media when fungi are grown on bedlogs.

But in Agaricus for example, the casing layer acts as a buffering agent.

I must admit that Agaricus bisporus is one fungus I have never attempted to grow, though.

I wonder if…
By: Rocky Houghtby
2013-05-07 20:21:18 CDT (-0400)

Lime, gravel, shells and other materials that basify soil somehow chemically replicate the conditions present when a host tree is unhealthy or near death.

The so-called fire morel
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-07 20:03:13 CDT (-0400)

fruits after devastating fires. It was also the first life form seen after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980.

But the apple morel of the East fruits when the tree is still alive. Stressed, but alive.

At Paul Bishop Sr.’s Jones Creek Tree Farm, we saw tremendous production of truffles (all mycorrhizal) when trees were young and relatively widely spaced. After Paul removed entire rows of trees, truffles there continued to fruit until the stumps deteriorated. Doubtless some of the trees joined roots while still alive, and after they were cut, continued to share nutrients. This is fairly well-known in the West with conifers.

We also have lots of apple trees in the West. I have never found morels fruiting there. Seems to be an East Coast thing. Perhaps it also involves the soil pH.

Daniel, how about the fire morels of the west?
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-07 19:18:15 CDT (-0400)

In each case (apple/elm and fire) a massive fruiting correlates with trees (in at least some cases specific species) dying, starting to die, or enduring serious threat.

It seems to me the occurence
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-07 17:18:59 CDT (-0400)

of Morchella in apple orchards in the East supports a mycorrhizal fungus theory. Lime or calcium would act as a soil buffer. Sometimes the calcium layer could also act as a “casing” layer necessary for some fungi.

Here in the West Morchella is frequently a saprophytic fungus. But not always.

At least one Morchella has been shown to be mycorrhizal here. The apple orchard morel would seem to support the theory of mycorrhizal Morchella in the East, also.

In my area, Morchella grow on freshly chipped Douglas-fir; burnt Douglas-fir slashl with Oregon White oak stands (live); with Black cottonwood (live); freshly burnt sagebrush; and rarely other situations. Until the fungus is cultivated, observations are merely that. I have cultivated Morchella in 3" thick beds of Douglas-fir. Production was 60 feet distant under the drainage of a shiitake soak tank. Water availability seems important.

Seashell hypothesis…
By: Nathan Wilson (nathan)
2013-05-07 10:39:20 CDT (-0400)

occurred to me as well. I’ve also see morels fruit in areas that rarely get morels after concrete is pored. For example, at my parents place in northern coastal CA.

Also thanks for the clues on M. importuna vs. M. angusticeps. I have specimens and access to sequencing gear.

Okay Rocky. I see the distinction.
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-07 10:20:52 CDT (-0400)

In my area, the large morel fruitings in apple orchards occur almost exclusively under dying trees, which I attribute to the fungus reacting to “knowing” that its food source is disappearing.

However, I know of other areas where large morel collections are made in actively tended orchards. So I think this would support the “lime” hypothesis.

I am not referring to
By: Rocky Houghtby
2013-05-07 10:13:06 CDT (-0400)

The presence of morels in apple orchards, rather the abundance of morels in apple orchards.

I think this “lime” claim may…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-07 10:03:09 CDT (-0400)

actually go back to McIlvaine, who stated that morels favor apple orchards because the commonly used fertilizer was wood-ash.

IMO, morels favor apple trees because these trees (and elms) are not resistant to the morchella fungus associating with the roots. I believe this because areas where lots of morels occur under either dying apple or recently dead elm totally stop fruiting after the apparent host tree has been dead for a couple years. So the fungus appears to be unable to spread to surrounding species.

I am told
By: Rocky Houghtby
2013-05-07 09:25:41 CDT (-0400)

One of the reasons that old apple orchards are such fantastic areas to collect morels in is due to the practice of applying lime to the soil.

The species name “angusticeps”…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-07 09:17:24 CDT (-0400)

is currently applied to the eastern NA black morels that are most often found in unburned hardwood forests… white ash, tulip poplar… This is according to the recent Morchella classification that has come out of the study conducted by Kuo et al. Mushroom Expert mentions that the predominantly western NA landscape morel, M. importuna, is suspected to occur infrequently in eastern NA. This collection looks like a good candidate for importuna.

The “elevated pH” hypothesis is an interesting thought (Daniel, I think you meant to write “increased the pH…”). Many experienced eastern NA morel hunters believe that morels favor a basic habitat. But it’s my understanding that studies have failed to establish a correlation between pH level and occurrence of morels. Still, this makes me wanna toss some seashells into my woodchips :-)

Looks like what used to be called
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-06 23:49:42 CDT (-0400)

Morchella elata. M. angusticeps is usually found associated with charcoal. M. elata more frequently found in mulch.

Interesting to me in that the shells probably lowered the soil pH some and act as a calcium source.

I have found only one “mulch morel”…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-06 22:37:09 CDT (-0400)

during my years as a mushroom enthusiast here in PA. It was a black morel, found in an urban setting. To me, it looked a bit different than the typical eastern NA black morel -now called M. angusticeps; more squat with pits more strongly vertically aligned than the local “natural black.”

Created: 2013-05-06 21:57:08 CDT (-0400)
Last modified: 2013-05-14 10:19:56 CDT (-0400)
Viewed: 169 times, last viewed: 2017-06-15 23:29:01 CDT (-0400)
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