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Oklahoma Morel Mushroom Guide 2023

It's officially the start of the 2023 Morel Mushroom season in Oklahoma. My favorite time of year! The morel mushroom season in Oklahoma usually starts around the last two weeks of March and lasts until mid-May, however this year we've seen an early start. This is quite a surprise considering that we had historic droughts in 2022. On March 7th, 2023, the first Yellow Morel mushrooms were found in Oklahoma. April Beecroft from McIntosh County, Sherri Shelton from Hughes County, Nathan Williams from Pontotoc County and Charla Russell from Murray County all found Yellow morel mushrooms on March 7th, 2023. These sightings were confirmed by viewing the Facebook photos of the morel mushroom along with the date. On March 8th, 2023, there was an additional sighting in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma by Justin Dodd. This brings the total of morel mushroom sightings to five counties in Oklahoma thus far. If you want to add your sighting to the map below, please submit the a photo of a morel with a receipt or phone calendar with the date. Once the sighting is confirmed, I will update the county map to include your find.

The start of morel mushroom season is greatly anticipated by mushroom enthusiasts all over the world each year. Different locations in the world experience the morel mushrooms season at different times. In the United States, the morel mushroom season often start in the Southeastern region of the country and as the months progress, the morels begin to grow in the states as far north as Michigan. Morels are highly praised for their flavor, texture, and appearance - which makes them some of the most expensive and sought-after mushrooms around. Fresh morel mushrooms typically sell for $30 - $40 dollars per pound in Oklahoma. Dried morel mushrooms sell for $250-400 per pound. Who knew a little mushroom could be worth so much?... The crazier part is that this isn't even the most expensive fungus there is. The current most expensive fungus in the world is the European White Truffle (Tuber magnatum pico). It can sell for as much as $3,500 per kilogram!

The most common species of Morels to find in Oklahoma are: the Yellow Morel (Morchella americana), the Black Morel (Morchella angusticeps), the Half Free Morel (Morchella punctipes) and the False Morel (Gyromitra caroliniana). The only known species of False Morel that grows in Oklahoma is Gyromitra caroliniana. It looks incredibly similar to the poisonous Gyromitra esculenta, but some local foragers report cooking and eating it without problems since childhood. I do not recommend eating False Morels of any kind, even if they are considered edible after cooking. The Yellow Morel, Morchella americana, is the best type of Morel available in Oklahoma. Every spring morel mushroom enthusiasts gear up and get out in the woods to hunt for these little forest treasures. Foraging chefs also take part in this search - as they seek out these little flavorful morsels to include in their dishes - furthering increasing their value as a commodity as well as an edible delight.

When it comes to Morel Mushroom foraging, there are two main conditions that we want to keep track of; the temperature of the air/soil (day + night) and the rainfall pattern. The ideal temperatures are between 60 – 70 degrees during the day and temperatures in the 50’s at night. The ideal soil temperatures will typically range from 45 to 50 degrees. Too much soil moisture is not a good thing nor is too dry of soil. Too much rain can sometimes a negative effect. Not enough rain is definitely not good for the production of morels either. With cooperative weather conditions, a growing morel can survive for up to two weeks before the natural decay process is likely to set in. If there is not enough ground moisture, the morels will start to dry out. Well-drained sandy soils warm up more quickly than clay and soil temperature at one location can vary as much as eight degrees a day. The most common places to find morels are in river bottoms, sparse forests and burn areas. Morels need quality soil, moist soil and ample sunshine, so keep those three things in mind when exploring a new spot. As mushroom season progresses, they’ll make appearances in more shaded areas with less permeable soils. If you want to find morels, start by learning to identify trees: sycamore, hickory, ash, cottonwood and elm. Early-season morel hunters to focus on south or westward slopes. These sides will have the warmest soil. Morels can sometimes be found in grassy areas, but generally the higher humidity of the forest is going to encourage the growth better. Floodplains and hiking trails around lakes are common places to find morels. It is much harder to see them when ground cover is abundant, but such cover can indicate rich, moist soil that can be productive for mushroom hunters.

Common phrases for when to start looking for Morels

  • When the Redbuds are blooming…

  • When the Oak leaves are the size of a mouse's ear…

  • When the Dandelions and Daffodils are blooming…

  • When the Mayapple leaves open up like umbrellas

General Morel Foraging Tips:

  • If you find one Morel, stop and look around. You’re likely to find more within the next 10ft.

  • Many morel hunters will use a 50% factor….if 50% is good then it’s worth bagging.

  • Foraging for Mushrooms, no matter the species, is illegal in some cities, state parks and wildlife management areas. Always contact the local authorities to get a permit before foraging on public land. This will help you avoid hefty fines by the State.

  • All wild foraged mushrooms, including morels, should be cooked before eating.

  • The best morel spots are also great for other springtime mushrooms.

  • For every 1 minute of walking, spend six minutes carefully looking around the forest floor. Morels may be hidden under fallen leaves or pieces of bark, or obscured by vegetation. Use a hiking stick to flip over raised leaves or bark or to move mayapple leaves.

  • Consider the 80/20 rule, which means 80 percent of the morels will be found on 20 percent of the ground you have access to. If you know what this 20 percent looks like, that’s where you should focus the majority of your time.

  • Do Not Trespass On Private Land.

  • Do Not Collect Morels that are covered in mold or loads of bugs.

  • Do Not Collect or store morels in plastic bags. Morels spoil rapidly in plastic. Baskets or mesh bags are best for collecting; paper sacks are best for storing in a refrigerator.

  • Do Not Collect Morels from areas with known pesticide, fungicide or heavy metal contamination.


The Yellow Morel (Morchella americana)

The False Morel (Gyromitra caroliniana)

The Half Free Morel (Morchella punctipes)

The Black Morel (Morchella angusticeps)

Jacob Devecchio (Oklahoma Fungi) foraging Morel Mushrooms in Oklahoma 2022:

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