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Morel Identification


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True Morels
Morels (Morchella)
Half-free (Morchella semilibera)

False Morels
Verpa Caps (Verpa bohemica)
(false morel)

Beefsteak (Gyromitra esculenta)

(false morel)


DO NOT rely on just the information on this page to identify morels. This page may not contain enough complete information to do so. Visit my links page, as there are much informative sites out there than mine. I tip my hat to those who have devoted so much time and study, and then are willing to share their knowledge with us all. Aren't people great? 

Also you should buy a good book on mushrooms and hunt with someone experienced the first few times.




Yellow Morel

( Morchella esculenta)


Morel Description

  • Cut lengthwise it will be hollow from bottom of stem to top of cap.  It'll look like a rubber mold, prompting comments from non-morel lovers.
  • Bottom of the cap is attached to the stem.    [Cap and stalk all one piece]
  • Cap is full of Ridges and Pits.  [Prune like, only deeper pits]
  • On most Morels the cap is longer than the stem.
  • Stem has little bumps both inside and out.
  • Stalk is usually a lighter color  [sand, yellow or grayish color].

    Black Morel
    (Morchella elata)

Half-free morel
(Morchella semilibera)Half-free morel

The Half-Free Morel

  • The half-free morel's cap is unusually small in comparison to the stem and may only be 1/4th the length of stem (stem in photo was cut short ).
  • Cap is not connected at the bottom to the stem.
  • Notice the arrow pointing to connection point of cap to stem. It's only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way down cap of the half-free.
  • That is where the common name comes from.  Only the bottom half of the cap is free.
  • This morel is also entirely hollow.

    Color of the half free range from almost yellow to dark brown.

Caps or Early morel
(Verpa bohemica)

Common False Morel

Do not mistake the false morel (Verpa) for the Half Free above! This false morel is often referred to as "Caps" or early morels and looks very similar to the half free!
  • 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.
  • The top is connected at the absolute top of the cap.
  • With the slightest pull or twist, the cap will fall right off.
  • The cap is wrinkled rather than pitted as the true morels are.
  • Color can vary from yellow to dark brown.

Another photo of the Verpa. NOTE the Wavy Ridges are
Not Pitted as the true morel is.

When I first started morel hunting I had heard of people eating the Verpa's and claiming they were just as good as the true morels. I decided to try tasting the Verpa's, or Caps as they are often referred to. I only cooked just the caps without the stem, and took only one bite about the size of a nickel. I started chewing and I didn't like the taste or texture, so I spit it out, and said they can have these.

 Within a few minutes, I became extremely dizzy, and nauseous! I do not recommend anyone eating them. And unless you are VERY familiar with the identity of the half-free, and know the differences between them and the false morel, I don't recommend eating them either.  When in doubt, throw it out!

After the dizziness and nauseous feel left, I felt okay. A few hours later I decided to have a beer. After about my third sip of beer I was right back to the way I felt before. Alcohol and wild mushroom don't mix well. Especially with poison ones.

I consider these poisonous!
Even though some people will tell you that they are okay to eat. It is up to you. It's always up to your own judgement. Even if someone tells you a certain mushroom is safe, it's up to you whether or not you eat it. You'll see when you read about the beefsteak morels below, It's not worth the risk sometimes.

(Gyromitra esculenta)
Beefsteak Morel is NOT a Morels at all.
Photo courtesy of Tim R. © 2001

The Beefsteak Mushroom

                  Potentially dangerous beefsteak morel. Has an irregularly lobed and wavy, reddish brown cap and a yellowish white (often pinkish white) stem. It is not hollow, though there may be air pockets within the flesh. As the mushroom gets older, the ridges and lobes darken to nearly black.
The poison in false morels is MMH, or monmethylhydrazine (a chemical also found in rocket fuel). Its toxicity may be cumulative (you may eat false morels safely for years and then, one day, croak after one bite). Clearly, MMH is not to be messed with.  * Reference: Kuo, M. (2006, December). Gyromitra: The false morels. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site.


I consider these dangerously poisonous.

READ: About an 8 year old girls life threatening ordeal
from eating this very type of mushroom!


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