Gateway to the Classics: Handbook of Nature Study: Flowerless Plants by Anna Botsford Comstock
Handbook of Nature Study: Flowerless Plants by  Anna Botsford Comstock

The Morels


In May or June in open, damp places, as orchards or the moist fence corners of meadows, the morels may be found. This mushroom family contains no member that is poisonous, and the members are very unlike any other family in appearance. They are very pretty with their creamy white, thick, swollen stems and a cap more or less conical, made up of the deep-celled meshes of an unequal network. The outside edges of the network are yellowish or brownish when the morel is young and edible, but later turn dark as the spores develop. In some species the stems are comparatively smooth and in others their surface is more or less wrinkled. The spores are borne in the depressions of the network. These mushrooms should not be eaten after the cells change from creamy white to brownish.


An edible morel (Morchella esculenta).

Photo by George F. Atkinson.


1. Where did you find the morels?

2. Describe the stem. Is it solid or hollow? Is it smooth or rough?

3. What is the shape of the cap? How does it look? What color is the outer edge of the network? What is the color within the meshes?

4. Take one of these fungi, lay it on a sheet of white paper, and note the color of the spores.

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