With spring temperatures on the rise, the time is right for morel mushrooms to appear and their hunters to be on the lookout.
Marion County Naturalist Marla Mertz says that the ground not freezing this past winter puts morels two weeks ahead of season. Morels can be found in any damp, humid area with moist soil and a ground temperature around 72-75 degrees. They can be gray or golden yellow in color, and range between one to twenty inches in size.
Morels are highly prized for their rarity and are considered a delicacy in many cuisines. Mertz describes the mushrooms as unlike any store-bought mushroom, with a spongy texture and a rich, meaty taste, but advises against overindulgence. She says that since our culture has moved away from gathering wild edibles, one person’s stomach may not be as used to wild food as another’s.
Mertz recommends looking for morels with light mesh bags so the mushrooms can stay aerated, traveling with an experienced hunter, and to wear high visibility clothing in wooded areas since Iowa’s morel season coincides with its turkey season.