Public Description of Morchella Dill. ex Pers.

Title: Morchella Comments (Public)
Name: Morchella Dill. ex Pers.
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Some species often collected and can also grow for food,


The following comments were pasted form this observation (

Created: 2010-05-10 17:31:54 CST (-0600)
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
Summary: Shall I quit while I’m behind, Ron?

Thank you.

Created: 2010-05-10 17:10:20 CST (-0600)
By: Ron Pastorino (Ronpast)
Summary: pH correction

Need to clarify pH statements. pH 7 is considered neutral. Higher pH values are considered basic and the higher the number the stronger the base. pH numbers below 7 are acidic and the lower the number, the stronger the acid.

Created: 2010-05-10 16:16:03 CST (-0600)
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
Summary: Maybe I should have said spore slurry?

RE: Dave W’s question about low pH: pH under 7 (neutral) is considered basic, and is often calcium-rich. pH over 7 is considered acidic and is typically calcium-poor. Grass likes low pH; most trees in the PNW like high pH.

I have grown morels on fresh-ground Douglas-fir branches, including green needles. I have also grown them using something called “Beauty Bark”, which is chunky Douglas-fir bark. Beauty Bark was used as mulch for flower beds locally, and it has a nice dark red coloration, similar to old-growth Douglas fir bark that it is made of. Some places call Douglas-fir Red fir because of that feature. Even Beauty Bark has a lot of green or older brownish fir needles in it. I can’t tell which was the major food source for the morels. Beauty Bark degrades within 2 years in my experience, so I’d wager it already had some ascomycetes growing in it. I always put it in direct contact with soil, which I believe is also necessary for the ecology of morels.

The late Dr. William Dennison once told me few native fungi can stand potash or heavy concentrations of charcoal, which are both common in so-called “cool” forests fires or brush-burning controlled fires in Oregon, designed to burn manzanita, branches and small-diameter woody debris, but hopefully not killing healthy trees with thicker bark. As clear-cutting seems to be phasing out of forestry, more and more brush-burns are having to take place to reduce the build-up of small-diameter woody debris from shrubs, that carry fire from one locale to another. Any disturbance: fire, road construction, timber yarding, land slides, and/or volcanic eruptions seem to stimulate morel fruitings in my area.

Created: 2010-05-10 13:43:36 CST (-0600)
By: Johann Harnisch (jrussula) [Edit | Destroy]
Summary: Re, Daniel

Very interesting! I will have to keep dried specimens of Morels so that I can make that slurry when I get a chance, Only one thing I have heard that the fact of morels growing under Dug-fir is possibly incorrect or uncommon, but you said that we can grow them on dug fir chips, it must work but how does it work? BTW does it have to be fresh chips? i.e. would older bark etc work if it did not already possess a fungal saprophyte?

Created: 2010-05-10 12:49:05 CST (-0600)
By: Dave W (Dave W)
Summary: Well, I guess my own attempts

at “seeding” have not involved quite as much effort as your description, Daniel. The “slurry” I mentioned is much the same as what you suggest. I have a friend who claims to have established morel patches in burnt areas. Commercial morel “grow kits” sometimes direct one to mix/bury the contents in a place where one has previously burned wood. Neither of two different types of kits have worked on my land.

Just to be certain there is no confusion here, a low ph, say under 6.0, is indicative of acidic soil/water. Levels above 7.0 would be a low acidity.

Created: 2010-05-10 12:30:16 CST (-0600)
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
Summary: Not any one thing.

Rainfall pH here caused by many factors: sudden elevation rise from coast to crest of the Cascade Mtns (0-4500 feet elevation in 80-120 miles inland); lots of naturally occurring volcanic activity from the Ring of Fire, pollution from China, Japan and elsewhere, naturally occuring acidic volcanic rock formations.

The Willamette Valley is noted for its production of grass seed, specifically fescue and ryegrass, which often requires addition of lime and/or limestone to reduce soil pH to levels grass like, typically under 7.0. Area is noted for naturally-occuring high acidic rainfall.

I’m not sure what Dave W means by “seeding”. Nancy Smith Weber has noted nearly 100% germination of Morchella spores from 1 year old dried sporocarps. Put this in a food processor while dry and powder it. Add 2-3 cups of warm water and puree on high for another 5 minutes to knock as many spores out as possible, and decrease the dried material so that it will pass through a spray nozzle of a backpack sprayer. Spray on freshly chipped green Douglas-fir branches, including green needles, but make sure beds are less than 4 inches deep, or decomp will cause too much heat and kill mycelium. If you want to add nutrients to stimulate sclerotia formation you can. But running out of food will cause sclerotia formation as well, so what’s the point?

Stamets says he tried to colonize a large fire area in Washington a few years ago, but didn’t apparently find many Morchella sporocarps afterwards. Naturally occuring large flushes of Morchella have been found after fires here, especially forest fires in mostly Douglas-fir stands. But some of the most productive Morchella areas were far away from trees of any type. Sometimes the burnt area was almomst exclusively sagebrush from east of the Cascade Mountains.

Econiches change quickly in Oregon. Rainfall along the coast commonly 45 inches per year or more, often overcast (as today) or morning fog banks to the top of the Coast Range mountains, then dropping back down to near 500 feet for most of the Willamette Valley, then spiking to 4,500-12,000 feet in the Cascade Mountains, causing a sudden drop of water on the West side of the mountains, but mostly dry on the East side, which becomes a huge Ponderosa pine dominated forest or high desert.

That’s what I like about Oregon. If you don’t like the weather in Portland, a short 100 miles drive to the snow fields on Mt. Hood, or the balmy Pacific coast. Mushrooms everywhere, but not necessarily the same ones. Tremendous diversity, only some of which are known in science. Every observation of even commonplace fungi offers the possibility of new data and new wonder, unless one becomes complacent.

Created: 2010-05-10 11:55:39 CST (-0600)
By: Dave W (Dave W)
Summary: I have had converstions

with individuals who claim to have succeeded in inducing morel growth by “seeding” likely habitat. Some use a liquid slurry, others just scatter morel tidbits. I have tried these things on my own land (nearby a few old apple trees, for instance) with no success.

ph = 7.4 would be a lot higher than one typically finds around here. I’ll try to find some results that I obtained a few years back… I think they are mainly in the high 5s. Do you know the source of the acidity in your rainfall Daniel? Here in eastern NA it is generally attributed to industrial emissions.

Created: 2010-05-10 10:42:51 CST (-0600)
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
Summary: Acidic rainfall

is the norm for western Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and southeastern Alaska. And the conifers here have adapted, along with the mycorrhizal fungi associated with those trees. A soil scientist who spoke at NATS many years ago noted that Oregon has some of the largest known trees in the world, which tend to grow on some of the worst soils. He attributed this phenomena with the extreme diversity of mycorrhizal fungi found in the same area: at least 2,000 species of mycorrhizae known to exist with Douglas-fir alone!

In addition to acidic rainfall, our soils are mostly volcanic in origin, which also is acidic. Our soils are typically pH 7.4 or higher, but deposits of limestone or diatomatceous earth (think calcium) are relatively rare here. Fairly common East of the Mississippi, though, along with extensive caves. Central and Southern California does have limestone, though, and therefore might have different Morchella than further north. Many CA orchards are citrus. I have not heard of citrus supporting any Morchella species.

Considering the fast growth of Morchella, which is capable of crossing a Petri dish in 24 hours at 77 degrees, it is terribly ironic that more people have not attempted growing morels outside. Even mycologists tend to think in terms of sterile conditions for fungal cultivation. But there are few such locales in nature.

Created: 2010-05-10 09:55:33 CST (-0600)
By: Dave W (Dave W)
Summary: The “ph hypothesis” is oft mentioned.

But, I had thought acid rain was primarily an eastern problem here in NA. Much of the Pocono plateau has thin acidic soil, and I have found very few morels in this area over the years. A friend of mine who has a bit of a geology background went morel hunting with me, and he noted limestone deposits in two of the best forested areas where I hunt. But, a few years back I had some soil analysis done on these spots, and the ph levels were not very high. I believe that McIlvaine wrote about apple orchards being fertilized with wood ash. So maybe an explanation is that the presence of a buffer against “acid shock” from low ph rainfall is an ingredient in good morel habitat.

I believe that Arora mentions finding western NA orchard morels.

As for the strikingly different morel habitat that one often finds when comparing eastern NA with western, perhaps at least some of the morels that look the same for east/west are actually different species.

As you say Daniel… just a lot of hypothesizing…

Created: 2010-05-10 08:22:05 CST (-0600)
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
Summary: Soil pH and Morchella

Seems to play a part in fruiting. Apples are known to support M. growth in the east, where calcareous ground in common. Apples are common in Oregon, but I have never found M. with them here, nor do I personally know anyone in Oregon who has found M. with apple trees. The difference may be one of pH: Oregon has strongly acidic rainfall and acidic soils, while calcium-rich areas fruit differently.

BTW, Tulip Poplar, ash, and most other tree species found in other states are also found in Oregon. I have never found M. with tulip poplar, even though I have several times found M. with Black cottonwood. Apple is rarely, if ever, associated with M. in Oregon, although we have extensive orchards, and crabapple is native. It is my unproven hypothesis that pH is the reason.

Until there is greater cultivation of M. this theory remains just a theory.

Created: 2010-05-10 05:59:17 CST (-0600)
By: Dave W (Dave W)
Summary: A consistently different spore print color

would appear to suggest different species for the “tulips” and the “esculentas”… but the DNA data often seems to thwart any sort of macro evidence. Here in my NE PA spot where several different types of morels appear (Tulip Poplar, White Ash), the small tulips and the larger esculentas each have early and late flushes… when conditions are favorable. I have found the small ones (look like tulips) in apple orchards very near to large esculentas/crassipes, but only in small numbers.

Created: 2010-05-07 12:32:46 CST (-0600)
By: walt sturgeon (Mycowalt)
Summary: Dave

As I recall, Geoff Kibby indicated when wrapped in foil and kept cool, morels will deposit spores. The tulip morels had a differnt color (more yellow?) than M. esculenta. I believe they are definitely different. The tulip morels seem to fruit later than esculenta or about the time esculenta becomes crassipes (my opinion) which is now here in Ohio.

Created: 2010-05-07 10:30:12 CST (-0600)
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
Summary: N.S. Weber

was doing research on morel DNA 15 year ago or so. I would expect any results to make it into print sometime. There has been considerable question in Oregon as to what each morel species is what. We apparently have: M. crassipes, M. esculenta, M. conica, M. angusticeps, M. elata, and a strong possibility of a white-ridged morel which I just don’t know. Each has a distinctive eco-niche. One is associated with Black cottonwood, especially along river bottoms; another with recent burns and volcanic eruptions (the first living thing seen after the May 17, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens was a morel); one is found near old-growth Oregon White oak; an overly-tall conical variety can reach 23 inches (I saw it myself and measured it), and I have personally found clumps of what I call M. crassipes that weighed over 1 pound and contained 13 separate sporocarps all arising from the same white base. Many variations in coloration, especially the top of the ridges: white, black, blonde. Locally, I call anything with a yellow ridges M. esculenta. Our most common species by far is M. angusticeps and M. elata, which may be the same thing.

Created: 2010-05-07 08:12:37 CST (-0600)
By: Dave W (Dave W)
Summary: Does anyone know

if the “tulip morel” and the NA esculenta lookalikes are DNA distinct? I have wondered if the small tulip morels (which some call “deliciosas”) and the larger esculenta types are fruit bodies of the same fungal organism that occur under different conditions.

Created: 2010-05-07 06:42:53 CST (-0600)
By: walt sturgeon (Mycowalt)
Summary: Well… You really can’t be sure…

But until the DNA work is done, (according to Michael Kuo there are macroscopically identical but different species) in Eastern North America a morel with this color is very likely Morchella esculenta. The other morel with this color is seldom more than 3 inches tall and has elongated vertical ridges. This conical morel which is called the tulip morel by some, often fruits under tulip poplar and wild cherry. See Roody, Mushrooms of WV & the Central Appalachians pg. 486.

Created: 2010-05-07 00:50:51 CST (-0600)
By: Hamilton
Summary: How…

can you tell that it’s Morchella esculenta?

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Description editors: Johannes Harnisch, Joseph D. Cohen