Morels are early saprophytes, digesting tree roots and dead leaves underground. The mushroom is the "fruit" of the extensive underground mycelium network, popping up in moist soil which has been warmed by the springtime sun. They are usually the first prized edible mushroom to appear as spring arrives. Although there some more favored locations such as dying elm trees, ash and cedar trees and recent burns, they can also pop up in the middle of nowhere. That is part of their charm.
As usual for us, virtually all our finds were under or around ash trees. The climb up steep hillsides or down valleys to check out a lone ash tree isn't usually rewarded with a mushroom, but the occasional find is always exciting. Not usually superstitious, I find myself developing little quirks "for luck." I always close my pocket knife between finds, so the next morels won't be scared and hide.
|Twin morels from the same stalk, ash tree in back|
While out in the woods we checked the bluebird boxes. Six of the fifteen had nests with 5 and in one case 6 eggs. Sunday we found one nest with the chicks all starved to death. The diagnosis is presumptive as all the other nests were alive and gaping for food. Also, one of the two black vulture eggs hasn't hatched 9 days after its sibling was delivered. Nature isn't always pretty.
I went over to investigate and found a nest with 12 eggs. One was cracked with a dry leaf over the opening. I fought the temptation to investigate as mother was off on a distant tree limb and I didn't want to interfere with her parenteral rights. She is likely to have her hands full if she gets 11 poults out of this.
And now, where you can find the morels next year. Go to the turkey nest, then 8 feet west to the base of the ash tree. You are sure to find a couple there. Please don't tell anyone else about this spot.
Wikipedia on morels
Preserving and cooking morels
|"Don't worry, this isn't going to hurt...............me"|