Public Description of Gyromitra esculenta (Pers.) Fr.

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Name: Gyromitra esculenta (Pers.) Fr.
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Description status: Unreviewed

Taxonomic Classification:

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota
Class: Pezizomycetes
Order: Pezizales
Family: Discinaceae

General Description:

Brown, brainlike cap on a white stem in spring-summer.1

Diagnostic Description:

Gyromitra gigas/Gyromitra montana has a wide stem, sometime almost as wide as the cap.4
Gyromitra infula occurs in the summer and fall (but in California fruits in the spring),4 and has a saddle-shaped cap which is wavy or bumpy, rather than brainlike or wrinkled,19 and narrower spores.5


Northern temperate forests of North America and Europe.5


Under hardwoods or conifers.1 5

Look Alikes:

Although still eaten in some places,2 19 it is widely considered to be poisonous and has resulted in fatalities.2 4 10 18 19. It contains gyromitrin, which is metabolized and then hydrolized to form Monomethylhydrazine (MMH), a component of rocket fuel.2 Although individual reactions to MMH can vary, even breathing the fumes from cooking or drying G. esculenta can be toxic.2 And if it doesn’t get you right away, gyromitrin has been found to be mutagenic, teratongenic, and carcinogenic in animal experiments.2
Has been used for dyes.3


1 Arora, Mushrooms Demystified (Ten Speed Press 2d ed. 1986)

2 Benjamin, Mushrooms: poisons and panaceas (W.H. Freeman & Co. 1995)

3 A.R. Bessette, A.E. Bessette, The Rainbow Beneath My Feet (Syracuse Univ. Press 2001)

4 Michael Beug, Alan E. Bessette, Arleen R. Bessette, Ascomycete Fungi of North America: A Mushroom Reference Guide (Univ. of Texas Press 2014)

5 Castellano, Cazares, Fondrick, Dreisbach, Handbook to additional fungal species of special concern in the Northwest Forest Plan, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-572 (2003)

6 Duffy, Toxic Fungi of Western North America (a MykoWeb Page)

7 Fries, E.M. 1849. Summa vegetabilium Scandinaviae. 2:259-572

8 Index Fungorum record 236690

9 Kuo, M., MushroomExpert.Com

10 Lincoff, National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms (Alfred A. Knopf 1981)

11 McKenney, Stuntz & Ammirati, The New Savory Wild Mushroom (Univ. of Wash. Press 3d. ed.)

12 MycoKey

13 MycoBank #236690

14 NAMA, Mushroom Poisoning Syndromes,

15 Rogers Mushrooms

16 Species Fungorum record 236690

17 Treibs, Trial Key to HELVELLACEAE in the Pacific Northwest (2001)

18 Trudell & Ammirati, Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest (Timber Press 2009)

19 Wood & Stevens, California Fungi—Gyromitra esculenta (a MykoWeb Page)


Common names:
Beefsteak morel 11
Brain mushroom1 4
Conifer false morel 11
Edible false morel 11
False morel1 4 11

Current Name:
Gyromitra esculenta (Pers.) Fr., Summa veg. Scand., Section Post. (Stockholm): 346 (1849)

Helvella esculenta Pers., Comm. Schaeff. Icon. Pict.: 64 (1800)
Physomitra esculenta (Pers.) Boud., (1907)

Description author: walt sturgeon (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editors: Johannes Harnisch, Joseph D. Cohen

Created: 2009-05-17 21:09:42 PDT (-0700) by Johannes Harnisch (Johann Harnisch)
Last modified: 2014-04-08 18:32:06 PDT (-0700) by Joseph D. Cohen (Joe Cohen)
Viewed: 272 times, last viewed: 2018-11-27 03:07:43 PST (-0800)