Morel season has returned to the Ozarks

The hunt is on for the tasty mushroom once again
Late March and next month is the time to start looking for the treasured morels across the...
Late March and next month is the time to start looking for the treasured morels across the Ozarks.(KY3)
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 6:42 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The familiar early spring temperatures are starting to return to the Ozarks as we work through the end of March.

With more warmer days on the horizon for April and into early May, this stretch of time is what some mushroom hunters have been waiting for. Morel season has returned to the Ozarks once again, and Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation finds this as another reason to get outside.

“People have cabin fever,” Skalicky says. “They have been looking for a reason to get outdoors. The weather is one reason, but morel mushrooms are another.”

Ideally, one would look for morels in moist woodlands, river bottoms, or wherever moisture and warm soil are found. However, Skalicky says that morels can even be found in unexpected places.

“I remember one time out on our farm that we found some in an old farmstead,” Skalicky says. “I wouldn’t call it a moist place and I wouldn’t call it a sunny place. But, there were four or five morels right there. It’s just time to look and whenever you’re outside in a forested area or near a forested area, look down because they could be there.”

Skalicky also points out how people can get in touch with friends, family, and others too for tips about finding them. However, you may not get much help on where to look, pointing to how seriously people take this.

“If you hook up with somebody who’s good at finding them, they will tell you how to find them,” Skalikcy says. “They will tell you what to look for. But, they will not tell you where to look. They have their secret spots, and those will remain a secret.”

In terms of what morels look like when hunting for them, the cap will look like a sponge with the shape resembling a Christmas tree. The common morel will have black to brownish-black ridges and yellowish-brown pits. Two other morel types that could be found are the black morel and the half-free morel. These are not to be confused with false morels that are red with folds, flaps or wrinkles instead of pits and ridges. Unlike the poisonous false morels, the true morels are edible and safe once they are thoroughly cooked.

For more information on how to look for, prepare and store morels, you can check out the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website. A guide to other mushrooms in Missouri is also free to the public.

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