Index- plants in this Family
Helvellaceae / Helvellaceae
Black Morel (Morchella elata)
Plant Type: This is a fungus which can reach 10cm in height (4inches). (In rare cases they can be much larger, up to 30cm (12inches)) The stalk is usually light in color and the cap is pitted and usually dark brown though it may be much lighter. Cap and stem are hollow.
Flowers: No flowers
Habitat: Generally found in open hardwood forest.
Range: Temparate zones around the world.

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The morels are the best known and loved edible mushroom in the United States and the Black Morel is one of the most common. There are many people who collect and eat Morels who would not consider eating any other wild mushroom. They are highly prized by mushroom hunters who often keep their collecting sites secret. The season in the southeast is usually limited to a week or so in the spring (There are some that appear in the summer at higher elevations.) If you spot one you should get down on your hands and knees and search all around for others as the are often in groups but are very hard to spot among the leaf litter where they are often found. Like most wild mushrooms they should be cooked before eating and some people have gastric problems after eating them especially if consumed with alcohol but this is rare. Serious poisoning is not likely.

Similar Species: There are several other species of Morel and the study of these is ongoing. Visit the to learn more about all types of mushrooms and to participate in the Morel Data Collection Project. Morels collected from locations across North America are DNA tested to establish species.

Do not confuse morels with False Morels! They may look similar but False Morels are not pitted but merely wrinkled and poisonous.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.






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