How to Hunt for Morels

Spring is the season for these savory cone-shaped fungi

Photo: Tomi Blom

Time It Right

“I always know morel season is getting close when I start dreaming of mushrooms,” says Tomi Blom, who runs the Grand Lodge on Fifth event center in Paducah, Kentucky, and forages for edible plants for her chef friends in town.   Morels generally appear in April and May throughout the mid-central South.

Look to the Trees

“Find their tree friends, and then you might find them,” Blom says. Morels often grow alongside elm, tulip poplar, ash, and apple trees. “If you stumble across an old abandoned apple orchard, you can usually find some.” They thrive in springtime soil that’s just below sixty degrees.

Soften Your Gaze

Morels usually grow near decaying wood. “They are leaf colored, perfectly camouflaged, and very hide-y,” Blom says. Squat down and scan the ground. “You have to use your foveal vision, which is not your peripheral vision, to see patterns.”

Cut and Carry

Blom cuts off morels at the bottom of their stems. Picking a morel sends spores flying, so remember the spot and come back next year. And be choosy about your container. “If you put morels in a plastic bag, they’re going to turn to mush,” Blom says. “A big wicker basket is best. I keep my morel basket in the car and tuck onion bags inside it, so if I get really lucky, I’ve got more places to put mushrooms.”