Morels may be the best known wild mushrooms in Michigan and are hunted by hundreds of thousands of people. They are delicious, easy to correctly identify, find, and generally safe to eat. The fruiting period of morel mushrooms is from late April until mid-June, but the best hunting is in May. A warm, moist spring is best for morels.
Mushroom hunting can be fun and safe BUT you must be able to positively identify the mushrooms you collect as true morels. This brochure will not provide you with enough information to identify and collect wild mushrooms. It will only provide general guidelines. It is recommended that you pick with someone who is an experienced hunter. Use an illustrated mushroom guidebook. See below for field guide resources.
WHAT IS A MOREL?
All species of true morels (Morchella Augusticeps, Morchella Crassipes, Morchella Delisiosa and Morchella Esculenta) share these characteristics:
- cone-shaped caps
- pitted surface
- hollow stem
- no break between the cap and stem
Field Guide - The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, by Audubon Society and Gary H. Lincoff
Field Guide - The Mushroom Hunter's Field Guide, by Alexander H. Smith & Nancy Smith Weber
Huron-Manistee National Forest, 1755 S. Mitchell St.,Cadillac, MI 49601, Toll Free: 1-800-821-6263
GUIDELINES FOR COLLECTING
Here are some rules to follow in collecting wild mushrooms of any kind, including morels:
- Know exactly what you are collecting. If you are a beginner, pick with someone who knows mushrooms very well. Use an illustrated mushroom guidebook.
- Collect only one species at a time. Never mix species.
- Use a flat box, basket or onion bag for collecting. Do not use plastic bags as mushrooms will begin to spoil before you get them home. Hint-Onion bags allow the picked mushroom spores to fall to the ground which produces mushrooms the next year.
- Select only fresh, young mushrooms that are undamaged. After a mushroom matures, it begins to deteriorate. One spoiling specimen can contaminate a whole bunch.
- Use a knife to cut the mushrooms just above the ground. If you don’t use a knife, you collect too much dirt. Trim off the lower stem and brush off any loose dirt before placing in your collection. Keep your mushrooms as clean as possible.
- Keep mushrooms cool, shaded and well aired until you get home.
- Dress properly for the weather and terrain. Take rain gear, map and compass and know how to use them.
- Respect no trespassing, private property, no littering and posted land signs.
- Allow as much time to get out of the woods as to get in.
- Do not pick wildflowers. Many are protected species.
MESICK MUSHROOM FESTIVAL
The Mesick Mushroom Festival is an annual event that is centered around the favorite mushroom. Events include the “Biggest Morel Contest”, flea markets, carnival, softball tournaments, hobby and craft show, grand parade, and many more activities and events. It takes place Friday through Sunday, the second weekend of May in Mesick. Mesick is approximately 20 miles northwest of Cadillac on M-115. Check out this site for the Mesick Morel Mushroom Festival!