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Morel Mushrooms in New York | Complete Guide & Map

New York's ecology and nature is incredibly underrated, presenting prime opportunities for Morel fruiting. Thanks to expansive lakes, rich forests, volatile temperatures, and plenty of elevation, Morel Mushroom hunters have a lot to think about when foraging in NY. Hunting morels can be quite the undertaking, so it is our hope that this guide will explain everything you need to know about finding Morel Mushrooms in New York.

"Give someone a morel and they can eat for a day. Teach them to hunt morels and they can feast for a lifetime"

Quick Answers

Morels in NY Cover Photo

Need to locate Morels immediately? Check out the New York Morel Mushroom Map! Simply zoom into New York or search your specific town.

1. Are there Morel Mushrooms in New York?

Yes! Morel Mushrooms do grow in the state of NY. Not only can Morels be found in NY, but they grow in every natural area of the state. Areas like NYC and downtown Buffalo have been ravaged by human development and do not foster much life at all, including the prized morel. However, from the north, south, east, and west of the state, there is the potential to find Morel Mushrooms in natural areas! If you do find some, make sure to bring a mesh foraging bag to allow morel spores to be released. You'll also need a knife & brush to harvest your mushrooms. This product on amazon has both a bag and tool!

Black Morel in New York

2. What Types of Morels Grow in New York?

When speaking of the "Morel Mushroom" many people have the impression that there is just one type that is edible. This is not the case. In New York, there are 4 types of popular edible morels, as well as a few dangerous lookalike species. Note: Gray Morels are just juvenile Yellows or Blacks, so they aren't really their own species, but we'll include them anyway..

Edible Morels in NY

  1. Black Morels

  2. Gray Morels

  3. Yellow Morels

  4. Half-Free Morels

Reference: Mushrooms of the Northeast Field Guide

Keep in mind that not all of these morels fruit at the exact same time in New York, or elsewhere. Gray comes first, then black, half-free, and yellow. Don't go out expecting to find them all at once.


3. Are There False Morels and Lookalikes in New York?

This is an important question, especially for beginners. The answer is yes, there are false morels and lookalike species in the state of New York that you must be aware of. They look almost identical to true morel mushrooms, but can cause severe gastronomical distress or be horribly toxic if ingested. For that reason, you must be aware of what to look out for. Lets dive in...

Lookalike Species: Verpa Bohemica & Verpa Conica (Do not eat).

How can you tell if you found these? Well, both Verpas have their cap attached to the stem only at the top, with the sides hanging completely free from the stem. When these are split open, you will see a cottony material inside, whereas true morels are 100% hollow and empty.

Verpa Morel Lookalikes in NY
Notice the cap in the front mushroom - Hanging free from stem.

False Morel Species: Gyromitra Esculenta (Do not eat).

There are a few Gyromitra species that fruit around the same time as true morels in parts of New York, the most common being Gyromitra Esculenta (false morel). These can be easily detected by noticing that they have wrinkles and folds rather than pits and ridges. Also, when cut open, these false morels are not hollow at all. If you are not sure, simply cut it open to see.

false morels in NY
Notice the wrinkles and lack of pits

4. When Does the New York Morel Season Start?

New York Morel Mushroom seasons occur in the spring, when frosts are on decline and temps are on the rise. New York is a huge state though, so this variable per location. Spring in Westchester (southern NY) comes before spring in Rochester (northern NY)! Generally, the season begins about a week after the last frost, in areas where temps start hitting the 60's. To really pinpoint a date, you have to put on your meteorology hat and look for temperature projections. We like to look at this longterm weather forecasting tool on, which allows you to see a few months ahead. It isn't perfect though, but will serve as a resource closer to the spring. Temperature is a known factor in determining when a Morel species will start fruiting, so pay extra attention to this next part:

Morels are deceptive and predicting when they fruit in NY can really tough, even for the best mycologists in the world. Rather than looking at dates to predict season, it's best to look at temperatures. Generally, this is how temperatures work in association with each Morel type:

These numbers are based off of prior data & ultimately estimated based on our experience in the field.

  • Black Morel: Consistent days of 58-66 may trigger fruiting

  • Half-Free Morel: Consistent days of 61-68 may trigger fruiting

  • Gray Morel: Consistent days of 58-64 may trigger fruiting

  • Yellow Morel: Consistent days of 69-77 may trigger fruiting

  • Verpas & Gyomitras (False Morels): Follow a different life cycle may be present the duration of morel season.

This all sounds pretty overwhelming, at least it did for me when starting to hunt morels years ago. Luckily, we've equipped our Morel Mushroom Map with data about temperatures during finds. Simply find your location in New York, click a tag, and you can see what the temperature was in this location when the specific morel fruited. If you see that a Black Morel fruited in your town when temps were 68, you can use that as a starting point to estimate the start of the season!

Morel Mushroom Map New York

5. How To Find Morels in New York

Ahh, what a loaded question. Morels have evaded the understanding of scientists for so long because there are so many ecological factors contributing to their growth. However, through 100+ years of an American Morel Hunting tradition, some clearcut patterns have been uncovered. There are also some full-proof methods to finding morels like using Morel Mushroom Maps or signing up for guides tours and classes. Let's get more specific...

Tips to Finding Morels In the Wild By Yourself (Or in a non-guided group)

  • Look near leaf litter, pine needles, and areas with a lot of decomposing matter. Morels use that as their food source.

  • New York's land has a lot of gradient like in the Catskills. In higher altitudes, temps may be lower. In lower altitudes, temps may be higher. Use the gradient to find levels with optimal fruiting temperatures.

  • Look for areas that are very wet, as Morels require a lot of water to grow, (They are 90% water!)

  • Look for areas exposed to slightly more heat than others, or visa versa. If the temps are in the lower range, an area with direct sunlight and warmth my be primed for fruiting. If temps are too high, look for shaded areas

  • Once you find one, it is likely that more morels are nearby

  • Cover a lot of ground: In covering a lot of ground while applying other techniques, you increase your likelihood of a find.

  • Go to areas in New York where you know Morels have fruited in the past. Morels spread spores (like mushroom seeds) via the wind and so areas with previous morels may ultimately be prime breeding grounds for new morels. The Morel Mushroom Map is perfect for seeing previous fruiting locations.

  • Look in woods and near dead and dying trees with a lot of droppings (shedded bark, dropping fruits, leaf litter, fallen branches, etc)

  • Be persistent: The best Morel Mushroom hunters do not give up easily. Some of the largest finds of my life occurred when thinking I was out of luck. Keep looking and you will find them if you follow the seasonal tips and patterns.

  • Go with multiple people. Whats better than one pair of eyes? Many pairs of eyes! Even though this sounds simple, going with friends has earned me innumerable morels I would not have found otherwise.

Morel in NY
Morel growing from leaf litter near a heavily wooded area.

6. Morel Hunting Regulations and Laws in New York

New York's laws are very confusing and vary drastically between upstate New York and areas closer to NYC. As a general rule of thumb, foraging for morel mushrooms is prohibited on state lands including state parks. NYC also has some very restrictive laws about foraging, and you should avoid doing so if you don't want to be fined. However, NY residents can pick Morel Mushrooms on private lands without a permit, but you will need permission from the land owner. If you plan on selling wild mushrooms in NY, you do need to get a permit for it. Cornell University gives more details about selling mushrooms here.

Our recommendation is to call the Department of Environment Conservation to double check requirements for different areas.

No matter where you end up foraging Morels in NY, we ask on behalf of, to please be a good steward. Treat the land well, and do not ruin natural areas for years to come. Otherwise, the tradition of Morel Hunting will fade and we'll lose the nature we love so dearly. To ensure that you do not the harm morel species in your area, we recommend using a mesh bag for collection, so spores can escape and germinate. If you use plastic, you are essentially killing off future morels in that area by blocking the spread of their spores.

7. Where To Buy Morels in New York

Morel Mushrooms can be found for sale at farmers markets, local food stands, and specialty health stores during the spring and early summer. For more information on buying morels during the off-season, check out this guide.

Morel Mushrooms are bountiful in New York, but pinpointing the seasons, understanding risks, and knowing how to find morels is a great undertaking. It is our hope that through this guide, you feel more educated and equipped with resources to improve your Morel hunting ability, or simply to get you started. If you want to help out the community, feel free to share your finds.

Though the information is very similar, check out the guides for Morel Mushrooms in Rhode Island, Vermont, Maryland and Massachusetts!

Affiliate Disclosure: We make commissions on affiliate links in this article. However, we'll only provide links to products that we feel increase the value of the article and help you forage for morel Mushrooms.


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