UPDATE STORY – Do we have delicious edible Morels, or toxic False Morels growing naturally in our garden? It has been on our minds ever since finding our new residents a little over a week ago, as reported here.
Other than the often mis-leading appearance to tell sponge mushrooms apart, one of the best ways to help identify edible Morels from extremely poisonous False Morels, is to cut them in half longitudinally.
Our specimen mushrooms were quite dry and had a hard, firm body by the time we decided to slice them down the middle a week or two after finding them. Normally, a generally crusty nature would be an indication that a mushroom might be a False Morel, but in this case we believe the mushroom bodies had simply dried out.
We were able to see a number of important identifying features that indicated ours were likely Morels of the Morchella genus, rather than False morels.
The general appearance was that of a typical Black Morel. The pattern was deeply pitted and regular and the color was golden with dark brown to black ridges.
Importantly, the stem and cap was entirely hollow when the body and stem were sliced longitudinally. This is a characteristic of a true Morel.
False Morels instead have a pithy, or cottony looking filling within the stem. (However, on such a dry sample, it may still be possible to mistake a hollow stem for what used to be a stem filled with moist cottony material that has dried and degraded.)
We could also see that the “cap” section was totally connected all down the hollow stem. So in other words, it was not really a cap at all, but instead, a cap looking layer attached all the way down the sides of the top half of the hollow stalk. Another good sign of a Morel. The stem and cap all appeared as one continuous piece.
False morels have a mushroom like cap, or bulk, perched on top of a filled stalk to look somewhat like an umbrella structure. The stalk being mainly attached at the top center of the cap.
In our very non-expert opinion, we believe our little friends are potentially edible Black Morels. But this said, we remain extremely hesitant to attempt to eat them. Eating even very small amounts of mis-identified false morel can be a deadly mistake!
This blog post should not be considered, or used as expert advice. Don’t risk potential sickness or death! Seek professional advice before cooking or eating even small amounts of any unknown mushroom or fungus! Note: Even the fumes from cooking the wrong mushrooms can potentially can make you sick!