Enigmatic Wild Morels

Morels! I have a strange relationship with this delicious spring mushroom, referred to by local folks as “Butternuts”. Both Morels and Butternut Walnuts have a reticulated outer design: thus a similarity. And both are looked for on the ground, hidden amongst fallen leaves.

I never just find morels; there’s always a story involved, as well as a mystique. Some native peoples believe that morels, as well as Ginseng, can move between visibility and invisibility.

My experiences with morels lean me heavily in this direction.

Showy Orchis: a True Spring Beauty

This year’s searches were no exception. On my first of two excursions, I had been searching for around an hour and had not seen anything resembling a morel. At some point, walking along a narrow footpath, surrounded by emergent spring greenery and thick layers of fallen leaves, I just happened to notice an 8” long section of hemlock branch next to my left foot, just off the trail.

Why my conscious awareness should focus on this small branch amid lush greenery and beautiful wildflowers, I know not. Yet it did, so I stopped and looked down, noticing also the white, fluffy presence of Wooly Adelgids at the based of the needles.

Whenever I see Adelgids, I crush a few and send a thought to the Hemlocks to hold on, help is coming. This time, using my walking stick, I tapped the Adelgids against the forest floor, then bent low and turned the branch over to look for more. Underneath the small branch was a small morel!  A foot away, another! Another foot and a half, another!

Enigmatic Morels First Appearance

Suddenly they were visible.

In the next 30 minutes, I found almost 40 morels. In some instances, without anything clueing me, I would step off the trail, walk uphill 15 feet, and would be on top of a morel, with another nearby. Then I would purposely scan around for a few minutes and find nothing more.

Salivating Sight: a Bag Full of Morels!

Morels call out to me, under my conscious awareness, yet my body responds. Every time I search for this delectable fungus, the same thing occurs.

Many people have similar experiences.

Several days later, after a good rain with lightning and thunder, I returned to the same general area and found many more. Small, yes. Delicious, certainly! We sautéed them in butter and served alongside steamed nettles: a deeply satisfying wild meal!

Supreme Wild Foods: Nettles & Morels


A Skillet of Morels in Butter!



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About goodheart

Education: Warren Wilson College (BA Environmental Studies) 1987: University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (MSc. Natural Resources) 2005 Permaculture Design Certificate (The Farm, TN) 1994 Presidential Volunteer Award: 2005, 2006, 2007 Experiences: National and international Permaculture teacher and practitioner since 1995; Sustainable land use and permaculture consultant; International consultant for small plot sustainable agriultural projects; Home orchard consultant; Endangered species observer for sea-turtle and whale projects; Field biologist and naturalist; Gourmet natural food chef and teacher; Home baker (artisan breads) brewer & fermenter; Home orchardist; BeeKeeper; Ecological gardener; Broom-maker in the Southern Highland Craft Guild, and general bio-philiac...
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