Pin It
Favorite

Story of the Morel 

by Dan Egan


Go out in the woods right now and look closely. Like a gift from the gods, morels will be poking their little brown cones through the forest ground cover. They are possibly the most cherished and most hunted wild mushroom in North America. And it's for only a few short weeks, usually starting in early May, that the spongy fungi are available. After that, the only place you can find them is in gourmet food markets, where you can expect to pay more than $30 per pound.


But don't go by the calendar, says Tim Gerlitz, of the North Idaho Mycological Association. Nature has her own ways of telling us when to pick the earthy treats. Such as this nugget: "When the apple tree leaves are as big as a squirrels' ear, it's time to get morels." If you're not sure of that critters' anatomical dimensions, he also says that the blooming of lilacs and calypso orchids are nature's signals that it's time to pick morels.


Morels are most abundant in coniferous forests and especially thrive in fairly open woods with filtered light. For reasons that aren't completely known, they seem to favor areas where the ground has been disturbed, such as by fire or logging. This looks like a good morel year to Gerlitz because of the ideal spring weather: rain followed by warmth.


For newcomers, he recommends joining a club or going with experienced hunters on a foray. "All mushrooms are variable. Guide books are helpful, but they only give you one photo." Three people have died in Washington after eating poisonous mushrooms in the last 20 years. That's why Gerlitz says he teaches people to identify the poisonous mushrooms first. However, he says once you learn to identify the morel, "it's a fool-proof mushroom."


The popularity of morel hunting is growing, especially for commercial pickers, who must buy permits. But for recreational 'shroomers, even more than providing a base for to-die-for sauces and soups, morels offer the thrill of a treasure hunt. Once you find one, I'm told, it's hard to stop.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Our Republic
  • Our Republic

    Not just another small town heroin tragedy
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • Opening New Doors
  • Opening New Doors

    A Spokane college fills a need for refugees and international students, while changing how English is taught around the world
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • Coming to Terms
  • Coming to Terms

    County, activists reach agreement on longstanding Urban Growth Area conflicts; plus, new developments in the death of Ryan Holyk
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Hoopfest

Hoopfest @ Downtown Spokane

June 25-26

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Dan Egan

  • Nightlife- Cowboy Bars

    Big Al's 6361 W. Seltice Way, Post Falls, Idaho * (208) 777-8312 Everything I know about cowboy bars I learned from watching The Blues Brothers -- no less than 20 times. So my point of reference here is drawn directly from Bob's Country Bunker
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • Nightlife- Bowling Centers

    North Bowl 125 W. Sinto Ave. * 328-7090 The 24 lanes at North Bowl are notable for the wild Day-Glo cubist mosaic on the wall above them. The colors stood out within the brownish, '70s ambiance. I was there on a weeknight, during regular, ope
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • Peak Experiences

    Quick, what's the highest mountain in Eastern Washington? If you didn't know that Gypsy Peak (7,309 feet) in the northeast corner of the state was the highest point east of the Columbia River, don't feel bad. You're not alone. Most people do
    • Jun 17, 2004
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • A Thin Résumé

    With zero experience in the public policy arena, Donald Trump needs to start listening to those who do have it
    • Jun 9, 2016
  • Ugly Breakup

    The long-running rift between the mayor and the city council president just got worse
    • Jun 9, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • In Contempt
  • In Contempt

    A Spokane judge rules that the mental health system has willfully failed to follow evaluation deadlines
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Untold Damages
  • Untold Damages

    For three wrongfully convicted Spokane Valley men, the fight for justice isn't over
    • Feb 5, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation