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In This Issue of FUNGI:

Indy Star Logo
May 14th, 2008
by Jolene Ketzenberger, Indianapolis Star

Stalking the Wily Morel

It must be the thrill of the hunt. What else would inspire me (and plenty of other Hoosiers) to tromp through the woods for hours on a beautiful spring day, not picnicking or admiring the scenery, but poking through underbrush, eyes firmly fixed on the ground?

I was hunting morels, of course, those elusive Hoosier signs of spring. And after my first real hunt recently, I just may be hooked.

Of course it helped that I found plenty of tasty mushrooms to fry up once I got home.

"I'm always so surprised about how wacky people are about wanting to go out, hunt wild mushrooms and eat them," said Wisconsin-based mushroom expert Britt Bunyard. "They definitely have an allure."

The most sought after prey of the mycophile:
The morel mushroom.

Credit for my morel-hunting success goes to Bunyard, editor and publisher of the new magazine Fungi, published seasonally for both amateur and professional mycologists (check out He was in eastern Indiana recently and led me on a tour of the lightly wooded areas in and around Summit Lake State Park.

A master of camouflage, this healthy four-inch plus morel was discovered in dense woods ground cover.

According to "Common Mushrooms of Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs," an Indiana Department of Natural Resources publication available at, mushroom hunting is allowed on state park and reservoir properties, though some seasonal restrictions may apply; check at the property office first.

Those who do venture out, Bunyard warned, should go with an expert and be aware that some common mushrooms are poisonous. Morels, he said, are hollow and look spongy; avoid any similar-looking fungi that are not hollow or that have a reddish or brainlike appearance.

This has been a good spring for morels, and Bunyard expects the season to continue for another week or so. Morels have been selling for as much as $39 per pound at supermarkets recently, and no wonder. Their rich, woodsy flavor has made them North America's most eaten wild mushroom.

Savvy morel hunters know to look near ash and black cherry trees or around decaying elms. If I go again, I'll be sure to take a field guide to trees as well as mushrooms.


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