Tuesday, March 22, 2011
More signs of morels to come
Camoshroomer sent me the first report of a local mid-MO false morel with this photo of a gyromitra caroliniana. This is what many people are referring to when they say they found "red" morels. Although many people do eat these, I do not recommend it. As I have said before, all false morels contain a toxic substance that is found in rocket fuel. Although most false morels, or the ones around here, seem to contain very little toxin, there is no way of knowing for sure. Also the toxin cannot be processed by your body so it stays in the liver and builds up over years. If someone were to die from this sort of toxic build up it would be recorded as liver failure and not mushroom poisoning. So people could be dying from eating false morels every year but it would not be recorded as such.
Some may argue that you can cook the toinxs out, but once again I follow the rule of 100% certainty. If there is ANY DOUBT, THROW IT OUT. And how can I be 100% certain that I boiled out all of the toxins in a mushroom? I can't so I'll just wait for the real thing. Alright I'll get off my soapbox.
There are a lot of other signs of spring that send people out looking for morels. Some use the size of leaves, such as it is time to go looking when the oak leaves are the size of a squirrels ear. These are often easy to remember but not necessarily good to rely on for tried and true harbingers. For example, in 2007 we had a late freeze that came through and killed all of the leaf growth on the trees. The next year in 2008, the trees were very slow to leaf out and I was finding nice sized yellows while the oaks were still only budding. Those who waited on the size of leaves missed out on some nice harvests. Luckily 2008 was a really good year for morels in Mid-MO, so even those that got out late could find a nice mess.
I tend to use signs that I can see in my yard. I live in a neighborhood but it is out in the country so those of you in larger towns and cities will see these signs sooner than I. The first is my forsythia bushes. They have already started to blossom, but I usually don't start finding morels until all the branches are showing.
Also, the age old reliance on dandelions has served me well the past 5 years. Every time I see that first dandelion in my yard, I can find my first morels in the woods.
Now please take all of this with a grain of salt. These are my rules and there is something to be said about what they call self-fulfilling prophecies. Maybe I just look a lot harder once I see that dandelion blooming in my yard. No matter what the truth is, this is what works for me and my areas. And that is the trick to these elusive morels. You must learn the rules for your area. They vary from region to region and sometimes even from year to year, that is the game. You must puzzle out what rules are in effect this year and then get to picking while the picking is good.
If you do research online, you can come up with hundreds of signs that people use to mark the time to hunt. If you have time, I would love to hear some of your signs.