A week or two ago, newspaper columnist Ken White raised the question of what had happened to morels this year. At the time, I was still working on optimism and commented that it was too early to count mushrooms out. All we needed was a good warm rain and they would be popping. The rain has been slow coming, and everyone I talk to agrees with Ken’s assessment that this is a bad year for morels. The weather forecast shows a 40- to 70-percent chance of rain during the next four days, and temperatures in the mid-70s, so I’m still clinging to hope.
Since I have nothing to report about finding morels, I’ll settle for passing on a cool item from the Missouri Mycological (science jargon for “fungus”) Society. MoMS’ latest newsletter has an article written by Joe Walsh, who describes finding several ebony-colored morels. One pair was the size of beer cans. All were growing in shaded locations. That seemed to support a theory Walsh had heard--that morels turn yellow in response to sun exposure. Walsh also tells of finding a pair of morels, joined at the base, growing beneath a dense gooseberry bush. Their position caused one to be in perpetual shade, while the other was always in sunlight. “The shady one was a very dark chocolate-brown color,” wrote Walsh, “and the sunny one was a bright golden yellow.”
Could this be a survival strategy? Do morels hide a few shady ‘shrooms from hunters with camouflage?
You can read this article and others on the MoMS website, http://www.missourimycologicalsociety.org/earthstar.html.
By the way, the photo with this post shows two small, gray morels--not the big yellows Walsh described. I don’t have any photos of dark ones.