MISSOURI — Much like turkey hunting, mushroom hunting is a popular Spring-time activity in Missouri.

One of the most sought-after types of mushroom is the Morel mushroom, largely due to its flavor once cooked.

KMZU’s Dan Watson spoke with Nathaniel Athens, a member of the Board of Directors for the Missouri Mycological Society, to learn where to search for the mushrooms, what conditions are required for them to grow and the differences between Morels and their poisonous counterpart, the False Morel.

Click below to listen to their conversation, which aired Friday on KMZU.


Photo: Missouri Department of Conservation

According to Athens, one of the best ways to find Morels is to look in locations with very specific environmental conditions such as increased moisture  in the air and soil.

“Also, you need rain, you need moisture in the soil. So that is a huge factor is how much rain we’re getting is how much mushrooms will produce.”

Whether the season is wet or dry, searching on a hillside that faces a specific direction is also a good method for finding Morels.

“You want to look on north facing slopes,” Athens said, “because that’s the place where the sun doesn’t really shine as much.  And so you’re going to have good luck on north facing slopes because the soil is going to be cooler than other places.”

False Morels are a kind of mushroom that are similar in appearance to Morels, but are toxic when consumed. However there are some key differences to look for when hunting.

“There’s a couple way you can tell the difference,” Athens stated, “. . .if you cut the mushroom in half, the Morel mushroom is going to be completely hollow inside, the False Morel is going to have a solid interior.”

Aside from the stems, the cap also provides clues as to whether a mushroom is a Morel or False Morel.

“Also you want to look for pits,” Athens explained, “the Morel mushrooms are going to be completely in pits and the False Morels are going to have ridges.”

If a hunter wants to sell their harvest, there are regulations and legalities that must be followed.

“In Missouri they require you to be certified,” Athens said, “and so the only people that you can do a Morel certification through is the Missouri Mycological Society.”

The certification class costs $75 and the certification will last three years.