Elite life



   Morchella species are easily separated from other morels by cutting them in half, lengthwise. The cap of the half-free morel is attached to the stem half way (more or less; "one-third to two-thirds" might be more accurate), so that a substantial portion hangs free like a skirt. Other true morels have caps that are (again, more or less) completely attached to the stem. Morchella species are edible and good, but they are often bypassed by morel hunters because they are less substantial than other morels. The caps, at maturity, are comparatively small, and the stems have a watery, fragile consistency.


Fire Morel, Black Morel (Morchella elata)

   Solitary, scattered, clustered, occasionally in large numbers after forest fires, or on disturbed ground, e.g. campgrounds, edges of dirt roads, recently logged areas; occasional in coniferous woods, so called "naturals;" fruiting from April at low elevations in the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada to July and August at higher elevations; fairly common, but sporadic.
   Pileus: Cap 2.0-8.0 cm tall, 2.0-6.0 cm broad, narrowly to broadly conic, occasionally more rounded, i.e. obtuse-conic to ovoid-conic; surface of parallel to meandering ridges and cross-ribs, pubescent when young in some forms; color at first greyish to ochre-brown, occasionally pinkish to blackish overall; with age the ridges dark-grey to blackish-brown, the pits lighter, i.e. ochre to grey-brown; margin when young, overlapping the stipe attachment, less so in age; context whitish, thin, firm, brittle, interior hollow; odor earthy to fungal; taste not investigated.
   Stipe: Stipe 2.0-7.0 cm tall, 1.5-3.0 cm thick, hollow, equal to enlarged above and below, the base with longitudinal folds; surface typically whitish to ochre, pinkish to blackish in some forms, pubescent, becoming furfuraceous in age.
   Spores: Spores 19.0-24.0 x 11.0-15.0 μm, ellipsoid, smooth; spores creamy to pale-tawny in deposit.

Morille Comestible (Morchella esculenta)

   Habitat in open scrub or woodland or on waste ground. Season late spring. Uncommon. Edible: excellent. Distribution: America and Europe. Several forms are recognized in Europe; var. rotunda has a roundish ochre-yellow fertile head, while that of var. crassipes is grey-brown and the stalk granular and much swollen at the base; var. umbrina is smaller then the type with a dark greyish-black fertile head.
   Fruit body 6-20 cm high, very variable, fertile head round to ovoid or obtusely conical, pale yellowish-brown darkening and browning with age, ridges acute and forming an irregular honeycomb around the angular pits; stalk minutely scurfy, slightly swollen at the base and longitudinally furrowed, whitish to ochraceous cream. Asci 330 x 20 μm. Spores cream, broadly elliptical, 16-19 x 8.5-11 μm.


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