Oklahoma Morel Mushroom Season '24

Oklahoma Morel Mushroom Season '24

2024 Oklahoma Morel Mushroom Season

The First Official Morel Mushroom sighting in Oklahoma was by Nathan Williams on February 26th in Ponotoc County. As the days grow longer and the temperatures begin to rise, there's an excitement that sweeps through the forests of Oklahoma. For mushroom enthusiasts, this marks the official beginning of one of the most anticipated seasons of the year – the morel mushroom season.

As someone who loves hunting for mushrooms, I can tell you it's such a thrill finding these tasty fungi. Morels are renowned for their unique honeycomb-like caps, earthy flavor, and meaty texture, making them a prized delicacy coveted by chefs, foragers, and nature enthusiasts alike.

Here are 10 easy tips to help you on your next morel mushroom foraging adventure:

1. **Safety First**: Before consuming any wild mushrooms, make sure you are confident in your wild mushroom identification skills or consult with an experienced forager or mycologist. Always remember the saying "When in doubt, throw it out!"

2. **Respect Nature and Regulations**: Always forage responsibly and ethically. Obtain any necessary permits or permissions required for foraging on public or private lands. Leave no trace, and only harvest what you can use, leaving plenty behind to ensure the sustainability of the mushroom population.

3. **Follow the Weather Patterns**: Keep an eye on weather patterns, especially rainfall and temperature fluctuations. A warm, humid spell followed by a few days of sunshine is often the perfect recipe for morels to emerge.

4. **Timing is Key**: Morel mushrooms typically emerge in early spring, usually around March to May (this year is incredibly early), depending on the weather conditions. Keep an eye on the soil temperature – when it reaches around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it's prime time for morels to start popping up.

5. **Scout the Right Locations**: Morels are often found near dead or decaying trees, particularly ash, elm, oak, and cedar trees. Look for areas with a mix of hardwoods and moist, well-drained soil. Popular spots include riverbanks, creek beds, sandy washouts, and wooded areas with ample sunlight filtering through the canopy.

6. **Be Patient and Observant**: Morel hunting requires patience and a keen eye for detail. Scan the forest floor carefully, paying attention to changes in color and texture. Morels blend in seamlessly with their surroundings, so train yourself to spot their distinctive shape and coloration.

7. **Enjoy the Hunt**: Morel mushroom hunting is not just about the harvest – it's about immersing yourself in nature, sharpening your observation skills, and enjoying the thrill of the hunt. Take the time to appreciate the beauty of the forest and the bounty it provides.

8. **Indicator Species**: Learn early spring plant and mushroom species that can help you identify locations that have warmer soil and moisture that might have a higher potential for producing morel mushrooms. Learning to recognize the early springtime plants will come in handy when it comes to timing your foraging trips.

9. **Local Mushroom Guide**: Purchase a local mushroom guide to help you identify the mushrooms that you come across in the forest. Make sure to use a guide that covers your region to ensure you don't mistake any edible mushrooms with dangerous look-a-likes. 

10. **Use A Mesh Bag**: I highly recommend using a mesh bag to carry your fresh morel mushrooms throughout the forest during your foraging adventures. The spores from the morel mushrooms will be able to fall through the mesh holes and spread throughout the forest to possibily germinate and eventually produce more morel mushrooms.

The 4 Most Common Types of Morel Mushrooms

Morchella americana (Yellow Morel) Prized Edible Mushroom

The Yellow Morel, scientifically known as Morchella americana, is a highly sought-after mushroom due to its unique taste and texture. This is the morel mushroom that you want to find and here's how to identify it:

Cap Shape: Distinctive, honeycombed cap with ridges and pits that look like a spongy, elongated brain.

Cap Color: Ranges from grey to yellow to tan and eventually brown as it matures.

Stature: Typically stands between 2 to 12 inches tall.

Stem: White to pale yellow, thick, and hollow—same or shorter in height compared to the cap.

Habitat: Found in forested areas, particularly in association with sycamore, hickory, ash, elm, and cedar trees 


Verpa conica (Thimble Morel) Non-edible Mushroom

Often mistaken for true morels, the Verpa conica requires careful identification:

Cap Shape: A small, thimble-like cap that hangs over the stem, rather than the fully attached cap of true morels.

Cap Color: Brown to reddish-brown.

Stature: Generally smaller than the Yellow Morel, usually under 3 inches tall.

Stem: Creamy to pale color, typically hollow but with a cottony substance inside.

Habitat: Grows in early spring, often found near riverbanks and streams. Can also be found in forested areas.

(Photo from www.mykoweb.com)


Verpa bohemica (Early Morel)  Non-edible Mushroom

The Verpa bohemica, another morel look-alike, has the following characteristics:

Cap Shape: Its cap is wrinkled and hangs freely from the top of the stem, resembling a skirt.

Cap Color: Light brown to dark brown.

Stature: They can grow about 1 to 3 inches tall.

Stem: Thicker stem that is hollow and lighter colored.

Habitat: Prefers moist soil and is often found near decaying wood in forested areas near sycamore, hickory, ash, elm, and cedar trees 

(Photo from www.mushroommarauder.com)


Gyromitra brunnea (Brown False Morel)  Non-edible Mushroom

The Gyromitra brunnea is sometimes confused with true morels, but consuming them can be dangerous:

Cap Shape: Wavy and brain-like but less uniform than true morels.

Cap Color: Dark reddish-brown to nearly black.

Stature: Usually stands about 2 to 6 inches tall.

Stem: White to a cream, with a solid or chambered stem, not hollow.

Habitat: It is often associated with sycamore, hickory, ash, elm, and cedar trees. It can also be found in coniferous forests. 

(Photo from www.Fungiwoman.com)



As the morel mushroom season begins in Oklahoma, it's the perfect moment to dust off your hiking boots, grab your basket, and explore the great outdoors in search of these culinary delights. Happy hunting, and may your forays into the forest be bountiful and memorable. 

Common Morel Mushroom Quotes

"When the red bud trees are blooming, the morels are shrooming"

"There are two types of people: those who love morels and those who haven't tried them yet."

"If you find one, you’re much more likely to find more within the next 20 feet"

Please tag @oklahomafungi in your morel mushroom foraging photos and videos. We love to see other mushroom friends enjoying these amazing mushrooms!
To purchase mushroom cultivation productions or mushroom gummies, visit our website: www.OklahomaFungi.com

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