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Morel (Morchella esculenta)

More is one of the most easily recognised edible mushrooms and is highly sought after.

Common name(s): morel, common morel, true morel, yellow morel, morel mushroom, sponge morel

Scientific name: Morchella esculenta

Family: Morchellaceae

Appearance

Overview: unique cap that has a honeycomb-like appearance.

Cap: 3 to 8cm across, 5 to 12 cm tall, sometimes conical in shape but its often globular. Has an irregular array of pits separated by narrow ridges to give the honeycomb structure.

Stipe (stalk): white or pale cream and 3 to 12cm tall.

Spores: deep cream to yellow in colour.

Look out for: the pleasant and earthy smell.

Could be confused with: the poisonous false morel (Gyromitra esculenta) which  is found in sandy soil under pine trees.

Where and when to spot morel

When: March to May.

Where: fruiting bodies can grow in groups or as solitary mushrooms. Look for morel on the ground in a variety of habitats. well drained soil in copses, woodland and hedgerows. 

Conservation status

Not considered of conservation concern but is uncommon in the UK.

How we use Morel

Food

Morel is one of the most easily recognised edible mushrooms and is highly sought after. They are a prized delicacy and given their rarity they can be very expensive. The mushrooms can be fried in butter or baked after being stuffed. Morels can also be dried.

Toxicity: poisonous when raw but fine once cooked. 

Medicine

Morchella esculenta has been found to have several medicinal properties, including anti-tumor and antiviral effects, immunoregularity properties and fatigue resistance.

Morels have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat indigestion, excessive phlegm and shortness of breath.

Industrial uses

In Asia, morels are used to produce enzymes that are used as a food preservative and to upgrade its nutritional value. 

Facts

  • The Black Morel (Morchella elata) looks similar but has a pointed grey-brown cap and is most commonly found in bark mulches on flowerbeds and in shrubberies. It too must be cooked.