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Types of False Morels To Avoid (With Photos)

false morels cover

Mushroom foraging can be a fun and rewarding hobby, but it's important to know the difference between edible and poisonous morels. One group of mushrooms that can be particularly confusing for novice foragers are false morels. While they may look similar to true morels, false morels can be toxic and even deadly if consumed. In this article, we will explore the false morel mushroom species to look out for.

What are False Morels?

False morels are a group of mushrooms that are often mistaken for true morels due to their similar appearance. However, false morels are not true morels and should never be consumed. The term "false morel" refers to several species of mushrooms that contain the toxin gyromitrin, which can cause symptoms ranging from nausea and vomiting to seizures and even death.

False Morel Species to Look Out For:

  1. Gyromitra esculenta - also known as the brain mushroom, this false morel is found in wooded areas and has a distinctive wrinkled cap that looks similar to a brain.

  2. Verpa bohemica - also known as the early morel, this false morel has a long, slender stem and a cap that is bell-shaped when young but becomes more conical as it ages.

  3. Helvella lacunosa - also known as the fluted black elfin saddle, this false morel has a saddle-shaped cap and a stem that is deeply grooved and hollow.



Helvella Lacunosa

How to Avoid False Morels

The best way to avoid false morels is to only eat morel mushrooms that you can positively identify as safe to eat. When foraging, it's important to bring a guidebook or smartphone app that can help you identify different mushroom species. If you are unsure about the safety of a particular mushroom, it's best to err on the side of caution and leave it in the woods.

In conclusion, false morels are a group of mushrooms that can be toxic if consumed. While they may look similar to true morels, it's important to know how to identify the differences between the two. By educating yourself on the various species of mushrooms in your area and being cautious when foraging, you can enjoy the rewards of mushroom hunting without putting yourself at risk.


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