Observation 204106: Morchella sect. Distantes

When: 2013-05-17

Collection location: Sequoia National Forest, California, USA [Click for map]

Who: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)

No specimen available

Many of these elongated morels were found along this creek in a burn zone. They were collected and eaten, not vouchered!


small creekside morels.jpg

Proposed Names

32% (5)
Recognized by sight: burn morel found fruiting in and alongside a creek. morpho identical to sextelala, but habitat separates.
Used references
9% (3)
Recognized by sight: Seems equally likely
-1% (4)
Recognized by sight: There is not enough information here to determine the species.
35% (4)
Recognized by sight: see comment below
20% (3)
Recognized by sight: Small gracile west coast burn morel. Black and under conifers.
Used references: Of the morels which look like this that I have sequenced, Morchella brunnea is the most common taxon.

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

Eye3 = Observer’s choice
Eyes3 = Current consensus


Add Comment
DNA not run on these
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2017-04-11 16:55:00 PDT (-0700)

but the habitat and habit are spot on for eximia (as described for anthracophila, an eximia synonym). these are part of a much larger fruiting, with tall, elongated thin fleshed fbs, growing directly in water.

we can do better than sect. Distantes for this obsie.

By: Alan Rockefeller (Alan Rockefeller)
2017-01-21 13:12:59 PST (-0800)
just ITS
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2017-01-21 10:49:10 PST (-0800)

or the deeper 4 sequence method?

what another morel sp. have you found in burns near water sources that have this gestalt? it’s interesting that Kuo’s brunnea sp. (also DNA determined) were all found in non-burn areas, but they were primarily from the PNW, not CA.

I don’t know what Kuo’s reasoning was in his original description of septimelata aka eximia, but he saw fit to correlate its presence with adjacent water sources. We really don’t know why these fungi do what they do!

On the other hand, all fungi are correlated with water, in a sense. No water, no mushrooms. In dry Sierra conditions, most mushrooms are correlated with water!

I don’t know if the eximia correlation is meaningful or not, just that Kuo thought it was.

Morchella brunnea
By: Alan Rockefeller (Alan Rockefeller)
2017-01-21 09:49:46 PST (-0800)

All of the Morchella brunnea I have found have been in burns. About 20% were near creeks. It does not appear that the presence of a creek changes the distribution of Morchella species. This makes sense because the presence of a creek doesn’t change the distribution of non-Morchella species either. It’s the same habitat, just wetter.

as you know
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2017-01-21 09:07:19 PST (-0800)

we are only just starting to document the presence of brunnea here in CA.

So, of those morels that turned out to be DNA brunnea, how many of them were found closely associated with creeks? And how many were in burns?

It is the creek association that we are arguing here, and the fact of these growing in a burn. According to Kuo (who again has worked at once remove, although his species were also DNA determined), brunnea was consistently shown to be a non-burn morel, and eximia aka septimelata a burn morel often associated with water sources.

Both of those conditions are met here.

It is certainly possible that he got this wrong. Nothing is set in stone, certainly not morel IDs from a photo (or even in hand, for the most part)!

I agree that this is not easy, and I also agree that this morel and some of the other morel sp. being called brunnea have a rather distinctive look to them.
Some of the morels found in this creek were over 6 inches tall and quite skinny.
No buttressed stipes, here.



I have a problem with those who vote anonymously.
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2017-01-20 08:45:03 PST (-0800)

be proud of what you say, and think and stand behind it with your good name!

voting As IF on eximia, which is indeed likely if not 1000% sure (because nothing in life is) is just being a bad sport.

it is reasonable to test the theory w/DNA, but if it would need to be done every time one finds a morel, where’s the gain?

Then it just becomes a DNA pissing contest.

Perhaps Alan or one of the other folks with a mobile DNA lab can just check that next batch of CA creekside mountain morels in a burn, and report back to us. I trust him to be honest about his finds and determination, altho I don’t think that DNA is the answer to everything. It is just not practical to run DNA on every mushroom, nor is it timely.

Until then, location, in this particular instance, works for me in teasing out some of these cryptic species, until someone can prove that theory wrong. Why would Kuo have even mentioned it if it wasn’t important?

I respect your extensive field experience
By: Terri Clements/Donna Fulton (pinonbistro)
2017-01-19 12:47:49 PST (-0800)

but respectfully disagree with your assertion that all black morels that occur near seeps or other wet areas in burn areas are M. eximia. You say you have found it many times but yet you have never sequenced it so you really don’t know. DNA analysis will tell you. And it is certainly easy and cheap to do. How about a simple wager I’ll pay for it if it turns out to be a eximia you pay for it otherwise?

I would say that there is a big difference
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2017-01-18 09:31:02 PST (-0800)

between using KOH and Melzers or even microscopy to make an ID vs sending out a specimen for DNA, esp. when there is a pay wall behind it! That free University service eventually comes to an end, and of course, doing the DNA on every mushroom we find does not help us in the field.

At some point, you have to look for better, quicker answers. And direct field experience DOES help.

I of course paraphrased rather than quoted Kuo, and I reiterate that he has not spent time collecting morels here in the West. I am well aware of the fact that he had material sent to him, however. I am also aware that eximia, of the three western burn morel sp. that are essentially identical in hand/in the field, is the only morel that was consistently found near a water source in a burn area.

In my rather extensive CA field experience with morels, I have seen eximia on several occasions, and they seem to have a certain look to them .. a bit more elongated than usual. This particular group was fruiting prodigiously throughout (including little islands in the creek itself) and along a watercourse in an extensive burn. I only photographed this one at the base of the creek; the fruiting extended way up the hill, and I left it all in place for a foray that was following in my footsteps.

Kuo’s quote confirms this: “M. eximia is … often near creek beds, springs and seeps”
So, indeed, a burn morel near a creek is about as good as we get in our non-DNA
specific IDs.

I am aware that they can occur elsewhere, but the creeks are the key!

I feel quite confidant in calling these eximia; if they were not associated with a creek, I would be far less confidant in my ID.

Debbie, I agree that it is frustrating
By: Terri Clements/Donna Fulton (pinonbistro)
2017-01-15 14:58:57 PST (-0800)

to have to resort to molecular analysis to ID some black morels. I can imagine that many people feel the same way about having to use microscopes or Melzer’s reagent to ID some Ramaria for example. I don’t see the difference as all involve time, effort, expertise and/or resources that may be difficult to acquire. Kuo may or may not have hunted morels in California but he stated on his website that he collected them for 10 years from all over the country including California. And from Kuo et al. (2012): “We also studied morphological, ecological and distributional data from 244 North American collections identified phylogenetically to assess whether these species can be defined on the basis of morphology, ecology and distribution.” Kuo et al. (2012) said about M. septimelata (=M. eximia): “Appearing at 1000–2000 m in lightly to moderately burned conifer forests, often near creek beds, springs and seeps.” This is not the same as your statement: “Eximia can be IDed when it is found near a water source, a unique habitat that correlates with this species.” The operative word is “often”. So M. eximia does not always appear in this habitat. Conversely Kuo et al. (2012) does not assert that every black morel found in this habitat is M. eximia. Logically I can see no way to make the leap you’re making here to call M. eximia promising. It is certainly a “could be” along with at least 3 other black morels. It is definitely Morchella sect. Distantes.

not quite
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2017-01-15 08:56:12 PST (-0800)

remember, Kuo doesn’t hunt morels in the west. Eximia can be IDed when it is found near a water source, a unique habitat that correlates with this species.

On the other hand, we could probably throw up our hands in ID despair for just about any of our morels. They are never easy in hand IDs, but no one is doing the DNA on every morel they find. It’s not practical and then is of no help next time you find another ambiguous morel.

According to Kuo et al. 2012
By: Terri Clements/Donna Fulton (pinonbistro)
2017-01-14 13:56:56 PST (-0800)

M. eximia (=M. septimelata) is morphologically indistinguishable from M.sextelata. About M. sextelata: “From a strictly morphological perspective the species is virtually identical to several members of the M. elata Clade (M. septimelata, M. brunnea, M. angusticeps, M.septentrionalis), but because it apparently is limited to conifer burn sites in western North America it can be easily separated from all but M. septimelata, from which it is morphologically and ecologically indistinguishable on the basis of currently available data.” Shouldn’t this obs be called Morchella? Or Morchella sect. Distantes?


slow weekend in Oaktown, Alan?
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2015-05-11 07:31:04 PDT (-0700)

no matter. this sighting will still come up for eximia, and folks can decide for themselves from the data.

I look forward to your very own DNA evidence from burn seep morels in CA, either proving or disproving Kuo’s findings.

Until then, on to bigger and better things!

By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2015-05-10 10:35:04 PDT (-0700)

there are only three possible burn morels that this could be (certainly not the entire genus Morchella! AS IF!): eximia, sexteleta, or exuberans. ONLY eximia is associated with seeps and creeks.

Here is the pull quote from Kuo’s webpage on eximia/septimelata:

“appearing in lightly to moderately burned conifer forests in western and northwestern North America, often near creek beds and seeps, in the spring or summer following the fire.”

note the word OFTEN.

neither the sextelata nor the exuberans descriptions mentions watercourses at all. only eximia. there is indeed a strong correlation.

it is a small advantage to we latin name seekers, but an advantage nonetheless. eximia is without a doubt the best name for this morel, with the data we already have.

beyond a shadow of a doubt, true.
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2015-05-10 09:34:43 PDT (-0700)

but with the info at hand, eximia is still the best guess.

again, my vote was Promising (which it is) not I’d Call it That. Without the DNA, it is not a slam dunk.

I don’t have photos of M. eximia
By: Alan Rockefeller (Alan Rockefeller)
2015-05-10 08:47:21 PDT (-0700)

Just dried material from the rim fire.

no one is saying that they are restricted to creeks ….
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2015-05-10 07:51:19 PDT (-0700)

we can safely assume that there was habitat information with each morel collection sequenced. for a generalization like this to have been made, there would have had to have been several collections of eximia found in wet zones, and few to none of septimelata.

do you have photos of sequenced eximia? let’s see ’em! There is nothing else up here on MO.

after all, I only voted “promising” for this sighting. it leans towards eximia, but only the DNA knows for sure!

By: Alan Rockefeller (Alan Rockefeller)
2015-05-09 22:20:25 PDT (-0700)

I found Morchella eximia at Yosemite and it was not near a seep/creek. I think it is a coincidence that they found some near a creek.

not quite equal odds …
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2015-05-09 21:02:57 PDT (-0700)

due to the habitat.

eximia is known (from sequenced material) to grow in seeps and along creeks; there was no such correlation with that extreme wet habitat with sextelata.

See Kuo’s description of septimelata for habitat details.

Dozens of these eximia were found all through the creek, on half submerged wood, along the banks, in adjacent vegetation, etc..

Created: 2015-05-09 16:04:36 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2017-04-11 16:53:45 PDT (-0700)
Viewed: 328 times, last viewed: 2017-06-20 00:44:58 PDT (-0700)
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