Thursday, April 25, 2013

What Mayapples Can Tell You

Out on the morel-mushroom foray last week I made sure to join the group led by the man who'd been hunting mushrooms for 60 years because one must listen to one's elders. He pointed at a galaxy of mayapple plants in the middle of the woods and said, "That doesn't mean there's mushrooms there, but it does mean the soil there is rich." So it's a good sign that mushrooms could be nearby.

Could be near, because we didn't see or find any. Coincidentally on my own personal three-hour mushroom hunt on the Divine property today I didn't find any morels either. But I saw and traipsed through dozens of mayapple galaxies in search of my prize, and also experienced in the wild what my elders had told me:
  • Look near deadwood, particularly downed and rotting ash trees.
  • On downed and rotting trees and branches, the presence of Devil's Urn mushrooms that have popped open (pictured) is a sign that it is morel season and they could be near. Seeing Devil's Urns told me I was indeed looking in the right places, even if morels weren't there.
  • Most fungi require a soil temperature of 50 degrees or more. (It hasn't been warm enough.)
  • It's best to hunt on a slope, preferably a south-facing slope. In fact, don't bother looking at all for morels anywhere there is not a slope.
The previous tenants of this property said they invited a morel-savvy European to comb the woods for morels, but he found none. But now that at least 12 years have passed I gambled that there had to be some on 100 acres. I didn't find any today, but the journey, and the education, was my reward.


KC MONTY said...

Doesn't need to be very much of a slope. I have pulled in about 7 dozen of the little grey ones so far this year. I don't look around downed trees though the ones that look sick or dieing but are still standing seem to work out best for me. Still waiting on the majority of the yellows up here in KC. Enjoy.

KC MONTY said...

It doesn't need to be much of a slope even a slight slope will work fine. I've gotten about 7 dozen of the little grey ones so far this year up here in KC. On 100 acres they are out there somewhere so enjoy.