The Early Morel looks very similar to a black morel, but the cap of the mushroom is not attached to the stem.
- The top is connected at the absolute top of the cap; it does not connect at the stem like a black morel.
- With the slightest pull, twist, or sometimes even a tap, the cap will fall right off.
- The cap is wrinkled rather than pitted as the true morels are.
- The color can vary from yellow to dark brown. Caps are usually brown or reddish brown, the stems are usually yellow.
- These mushrooms are considered saprotrophs, meaning they feed on dead and decaying organic matter. Some have suggested that they may be mycorrhizal as well (forming a symbiotic relationship with trees). We found almost all of them at approximately the drip line of large cotton wood trees in lightly shaded areas.
- Like true morels, false ones are often found in areas where the forest floor has been disrupted. You're more likely to see them near washes, rivulets, man-made disturbances in the ground, and roadsides.
- The cap of the false mushroom hangs freely from the stem. A true morel has a cap that will be attached to the stem. This is not always the case but more often than not it is.
- The false morel's stem is usually filled with cotton-like fibers, unless a slug has eaten inside it, and then it will appear hollow. A non-edible one will usually be filled with wispy cotton-like fibers or chunks of tissue. If you slice an edible morel open from top to bottom it will be hollow inside.
Until next time!