Observation 133640: Morchella Dill. ex Pers.

When: 2013-05-13

Collection location: Danville, Pennsylvania, USA [Click for map]

Who: Dave W (Dave W)

No specimen available

These beheaded morels in the first pic were probably chopped off by a turkey looking for imsects. Note the rotting cap on the ground. There was also a completely intact cap a few inches away from these stumps. If it was slugs, then they would have eaten the caps. I guess I can’t completely rule out that a human harvested the caps. But it seems out of character that two caps would be left behind.

Second pic shows what appears to be the work of a turkey. It is my understanding that deer do not eat morels.

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The funny thing about the top photo…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-06-09 00:40:27 NZST (+1200)

is that one of the caps was on the ground only a few inches away from the severed stipes. And another complete mushroom was growing intact a few yards from the ones seen. I guess a person may have left the one cap, if it showed a little mold; and maybe they just didn’t see the other mushroom. I’ve seen examples where a morel was “chopped down” by snails. But the cuts on the ones seen here look to be a little high up on the stipe for this.

As per the discussion with Daniel and Jon, I think that for the bottom photo this could have been the result of a deer munching the cap, or maybe a turkey tore the cap apart to get at a snail?

By: walt sturgeon (Mycowalt)
2013-06-08 17:20:05 NZST (+1200)

would not be able to make the clean cut that the top photo shows. Looks like a two legged forager to me. The bottom photo could have been a turkey but I am not convinced.

Arora says
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-18 17:12:35 NZST (+1200)

“Raw morels often cause digestive upsets…” and “always cook them.”

I think this may be true. The Japanese have the lowest incidence of mushroom poisoning in the world. They also have a cultural imperitive to cook all mushrooms.

The late Alexander H. Smith in The Mushroom Hunter’s Field Guide, Revised and Enlarged noted "Edible and choice. “Everybody” eats it…" (My first mushroom field guide. Thanks, Alex!) “Everybody” did not extend to Alexander, though. He was allergic to all fungi, according to his daughter, Nancy Smith.

RE: John, who has “spent thousands of hours in the woods archery hunting game of all kinds…” Really? How remarkable! Most people have only a week or two of hunting a year (300+ hours), and much of that is spent sleeping or in other activities. Archery hunters must truly be a rare breed!

I’ve seen Mule deer and elk eating truffles, which are relatives of Morels. They consume these with gusto and in great quantities. Dr. James Trappe noted that during rut, deer eat almost nothing but truffles in Oregon. I have seen deer eat morels at Wallowa Lake, Oregon and near View, Washington.

Maybe calling raw morels “toxic”…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-18 15:00:55 NZST (+1200)

is a bit over the top. But it’s an often-stated point that eating raw morels may cause sickness. Arora says to always cook them. I don’t know the research on this.

I’ve wondered if any woodland creatures are similarly affected? Perhaps in my area, where morels are not common, the deer tend to avoid these strange-looking things. But the one bigger morel seen in this post looks like something deer-sized may have munched it. This morel was found in an elm-rich area that’s been apparently getting large morel frutings for many years (found by me 4 years ago). So an alternate to my own hypothesis may be lurking in the evidence I have provided! Thanks Daniel and Jon.

As for the Fire Morels, the high-elevation “grays” and “blondes” I picked in ID during August 2006 seemed to be completely insect-free. I think these two “types” are the same species, M. tomentosa.

Deer and morels…
By: Jon Shaffer (watchcat)
2013-05-18 03:35:11 NZST (+1200)

I’ve spent thousands of hours in the woods archery hunting game of all kinds and it seems to me that deer and even small critters like opossum and armadillo will eat a morel but not enthusiastically. And, I’ve seen deer eat P. cervinus without excitement dropping most and not even reaching for others nearby, same with morels. Seems like they eat them if they are really hungry or bored. I bet they don’t taste very good. Squirrels like mushrooms too but seems like even tasty honey mushrooms, A. gallica for instance, just seem to often get a few bites or a nibble then left. Maybe animals recognize the relatively low nutritional value?

Raw morels toxic?
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-18 03:16:27 NZST (+1200)

Perhaps a reference to MMH? I’m trying to understand this. I have never heard of morels being toxic before. Citation?

Fire morels last longer than most because they fruit during periods of freezes and thaws. This keeps the insect population down. The Sclerid flies are fond of morels. Sclerid fly life cycle is 3 days. Commercial harvesters in Oregon treat fresh-cut morels here with CO2, thus killing many insects and insect larvae.

Morchella doesn’t fruit until temps reach at least 50 degrees during the day, although the night temps may remains below freezing.

Raw morels are toxic to humans.
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-18 02:43:39 NZST (+1200)

So this may extend to other mammals. Or, some mammals may be tolerant to the toxin. Or, perhaps the toxin in raw morels is volatile and disperses over time or as the mushroom dries. I know that Fire Morels have an extended in-situ “shelf life” due to the lack of insect life in the burnt forest. (At least this is what I had observed in Idaho.) Maybe morels that remain in-situ for long enough lose sufficient toxicity and are consumed by wildlife that would otherwise leave them alone.

We have lots of Whitetail Deer here in PA. But I haven’t seen evidence of them eating morels. On the other hand, clusters of Honey Mushrooms are often observed to have been munched by deer. Interesting to note that Armillarias are also toxic to some people when consumed undercooked.

Cousin was head of
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-18 02:14:05 NZST (+1200)

Oregon Game Commission, Dave. I’ve seen mule deer in Oregon munching away on morels at Wallowa Lake, Oregon and near the Metaolius River. Food is food.

That’s an interesting idea, Rocky.
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-18 00:38:31 NZST (+1200)

Maybe next year. I did not collect these severed stumps for study, and the morels are just about over here… except for one very late spot I’ll check in a few days. Is a 400X scope adequate to see stuff like salival enzymes? Also, I wonder if one could determine the difference between a shear pattern produced by a blade vs. a turkey’s beak?

By: Rocky Houghtby
2013-05-17 12:27:06 NZST (+1200)

I’m sure this could be easily sorted out by testing the area of incision for salival enzymes or shear patterns from a blade.

Daniel, I guess the…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2013-05-17 12:17:52 NZST (+1200)

“deer don’t eat morels” thing is something I’ve just heard a few times. But one forest where I find morels of several types has lots of deer, and I’ve never seen any evidence to suggest they eat the morels. But is there any actual scientifically-accepted eveidence to support either the “eat” or “doesn’t eat” hypotheis? I don’t know.

Our deer here in PA are Whitetail Deer. Is this the same species as the deer in OR?

As for the clean-cuts on the morel stumps. I would not rule out that a turkey may have sliced off the caps with it’s beak in hopes of scoring some insects.

Note the cleanly severed stumps.
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-16 06:11:19 NZST (+1200)

Animal would leave ripped or torn stumps.

Caps left behind: later fruitings, or unseen fruitings.

Deer do not eat morels? Where did you hear that? They are fond of morels in Oregon.

Created: 2013-05-14 17:52:41 NZST (+1200)
Last modified: 2013-05-14 17:52:46 NZST (+1200)
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