Yellow morel mushrooms, commonly known as True Morels or Morchella, are a group of wild edible mushrooms and highly sought after by gourmet cooks. They are popular, particularly in french cuisine and other northwest European cuisines.

Due to their rarity, these mushrooms are highly priced in the market, and you will have to check out specialty supermarkets for this type of mushroom. In this article, we discover the various types of Yellow Morel fungus and how to identify this type of mushroom.

yellow morel mushroom

What are yellow morel mushrooms?

Yellow morel mushrooms or Morchella is a genus of mushrooms that grow in the wild. There are around 45 recognized morel mushrooms distributed worldwide with many similar names. All the mushrooms in this genus are known as edible mushrooms and are known to be delicious.

However, cultivating these mushrooms is not an easy task, and picking them is usually done by mushroom hunters. The reason for this difficulty lies in the fact that these mushrooms have a short shelf life, and once picked, they go bad within a few days. On the other hand, these mushrooms are delicious, and their taste is often described as sweet and creamy.

Where do morels grow?

Yellow morel mushrooms are found in spring under deciduous trees, usually elms and poplars. They are also found in broad-leaf forests and mulch beds where the soil has been enriched with decaying leaves from the trees. The mushroom’s fruiting body is basically a sponge that absorbs water quickly after rainfalls. They are abundant in temperate regions, including the US, Australia, Canada, and Europe.

What does a morel mushroom look like?

Like most mushrooms found in the wild, their size can be as thin as a pencil lead or as thick as your thumb Morels have various shapes, from oblong to bulbous. Despite their common name, not all yellow morels are yellow.

There can be blonde morels as well as grey morels. The so-called yellow morel variety is the most common morel mushroom found in the wild. Yellow morels are distinguished from other mushroom types by the exterior of the cap.

The yellow morels cap usually has a honeycomb-like texture and a wrinkled appearance. They have a hollow neck below the cap, referred to as a “collar.” However, other types of mushrooms with hollow collars are also mistaken for yellow morels. The hollow neck is an excellent distinguishing feature because other mushrooms may have solid stems and no hollow neck.

How to identify a morel mushroom from look-alikes?

Apart from the features described above, yellow morels have other distinguishing features too. Their spongy head is attached directly to the stem without a visible network of tubes or pores. The head is usually black, tan, or brown and attached to a white stem. On the other side, false morels have a network of tubes or pores underneath the head. Here are some features of different types of mushrooms that can easily be mistaken for yellow morels.

False Morel Mushrooms

  • Closely related to the Yellow Morel mushroom, but these are poisonous
  • They are found in the same geographical location as the Yellow Morels
  • False morels generally have a much rounder cap with wrinkles on the side instead of ridges
  • False morel mushrooms have a network of tubes or pores under their caps instead of the hollow neck of the Yellow Morels
  • False Morel mushrooms are poisonous and can cause death if consumed

Common look-alikes

  • Gyromitra– False morel mushrooms that are sometimes referred to as the “brain mushroom” because of their wrinkled and folded brain-like cap
  • Helvella – False morel mushrooms with blackish caps, tan-colored stems, and a network of tubes or pores under the cap
  • Verpa – False morel with a wrinkled irregular cap and hollow stem

Are yellow morels edible?

True yellow morels are actually edible when properly cooked. However, there are some risks associated with eating wild yellow morels. There is a risk of accidental ingestion of other poisonous mushrooms that can cause liver damage.

If you are unsure of the mushroom’s identity, it is better to be safe than sorry. As far as looks go, yellow morels also tend to be confused with poisonous species known as false morels. Therefore, it is vital to learn how to distinguish true morels from false morels. The good news is that false morel mushrooms are easily distinguished with little prior knowledge of their characteristics. False morels have a spongy material under their caps instead of the hollow neck of yellow morels.

They also have a network of tubes or pores under their caps instead of hollow necks. Their main stem is also much thicker than that of true morels.

How much are yellow morels worth?

The price of a morel mushroom can vary depending on the size and quality. According to the US department of agriculture research, fresh yellow morels, on average, are sold for $20 to 30 per pound. Depending on the season and availability, they can be as high as $40 per pound. However, the price can go down to $7 per pound during off-peak periods. Generally, Yellow Morels are very expensive. The average cost is around $18 a pound, which is about ten times the cost of most other varieties.

Are GREY and yellow morels the same?

Yes. Grey morels are actually immature yellow morels. They are harvested before their caps turn yellow, and the hollow neck begins to fill with cotton-like spores.

What time of year do yellow morels grow?

Yellow morels are in season during the late spring and early summer. This is the time of year when they are much easier to find. They are often found near rivers and streams or in preference to sandy soils.

What is the best time of day to hunt morels?

The best time to hunt for morels is early in the morning. They are much easier to spot when they are still moist from the dew. Hunters also find that morels are much easier to remove from the dirt at this time.

Identify the common yellow morels

While several yellow morel mushroom species grow around the world, only about five varieties are common and most sought after. They are,

  • Morchella americana
  • Morchella ulmaria (aka M.cryptica )
  • Morchella sceptriformis (aka M.virginiana)
  • Morchella diminutiva
  • Morchella prava

Generally, all these yellow morel types have the same distinguishing features mentioned above. It is typically hard to differentiate the yellow morel species unless you know the yellow morel’s size and geographical area. Where exactly they grow is the most important of all the factors.

Morchella Americana

yellow morel mushroom

Morchella esculenta, also known as M. Americana or the common morel, is a widely distributed mushroom throughout North America. It can be found on both sides of the continent and has been reported from every state in between! It’s typically larger than most other Morchellas with an egg-shaped cap that measures anywhere between 2 1/2 – 11 cm tall and 1.5-6 cm wide, depending upon how big they are grown at maturity.

But this species stands out because its ridges also vary quite drastically from white to pale yellow (or even brown) vs. dark gray, which gives rise to the name “Yellow Morel.” 

Morchella ulmaria (aka M.cryptica )

yellow morel mushroom

Identical to M.Americana, Morchella ulmaria also grows in the same habitats. However, the geographical area of this species is limited to the Great Lakes, Central Illinois Ontario, and Western Pennsylvania. The cap of this mushroom is usually 4-8 cm tall and 3-6 cm broad, and the stem is 5-13 cm tall and 1.5-6cm wide with a bulbous base.

Morchella sceptriformis (aka M.virginiana)

yellow morel mushroom

Morchella sceptriformis or M.virginiana gets its name because it grows exclusively in the southeastern US, around tulip trees. The cap is between 3-7 cm tall and 2 -3 cm wide, with pits that align vertically on both sides of a ridged surface when young. These become brownish-yellow at maturity, where there are also grayish-white lines painted across them for contrast (the same color as their surroundings). A swollen base often characterizes this mushroom too.

Morchella diminutiva

yellow morel mushroom

The diminutive size of M.diminutiva makes it one of the most easily recognizable yellow morels across North America, though not all that common in terms of abundance either. It typically grows near ash trees but can also be found around hickory and oak as well. This small yellow morel has a shorter cap and longer stem than other types of morels.

It can be found east of the Great Plains, south near lakes in states like Ohio or Indiana where there are many ash trees that dot their landscape; it likes hardwood forests too but also grows on the tilled ground under crops such as corn (maize). The 2-4 cm tall mushroom features vertically aligned pits along its ridges which turn brownish-yellow when old, although they are yellow when young. The stem is about 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter, and it grows up to 1-7 cm tall.

Morchella prava

yellow morel mushroom

The morel, M.prava, is found in the northern US and southern Canada but prefers sandy soil around lakes or rivers with pines & oaks. This fungus has been identified as widely dispersed due to its capability for survival. The cap can reach 3-6 cm tall and 2 to 5cm wide with the usual morel appearance of light yellow ridges and dark gray or black pits.

As the mushroom ages, it turns brownish-yellow. However, it takes a fairly long time to mature. It has a 2.5 to 4 cm tall stem that is 1 to 3cm wide, and the base is slightly swollen.

Are there false morels?

Yes. Many species of mushrooms look like morels but are not considered to be such. These include Gyromitra esculenta, Verpa bohemica, and Helvella lacunosa. In general, “false morels” have wrinkled caps.

Are false morels poisonous?

Yes. Some species like Gyromitra esculenta and Verpa bohemica can be quite poisonous and fatal! You should avoid eating any false morel unless you are absolutely sure of what it is.

Can you eat morels raw?

No! Never eat any mushroom raw. Make sure you cook them before eating because morels are poisonous raw. You must cook morel mushrooms properly to avoid stomach problems. Raw morels have hydrazine, a gastrointestinal irritant that causes gastric problems.

What do yellow morels taste like?

Yellow morel mushrooms have a much more delicate flavor than other cultivated varieties such as cremini and portabella. The earthy, woodsy notes are present, but they also possess some smokiness, especially in darker varieties.

Yellow morel mushroom recipes

Morels are an excellent choice for recipes with light flavors that complement their simplicity and earthiness. They work well in sautéed vegetables or cooked into butter to create sauce served over roasted meats & pasta, and they also make an ideal addition when cooking mushroom soups. You can also use them as toppings for flatbread or pizza. However you use yellow morels, do not forget to cook them well to avoid gastric problems. Luckily, you can cook these mushrooms quickly, within about 5 minutes.

Related questions

Are half free morels true morels?

Yes. Half-free morels are a unique type of morel, which you can tell is a morel by its appearance. Its ridges end in points, and unlike other morels, its caps are attached only to the base of the stem. They are also edible.

Do you eat morel stems?

The stems of many morel mushrooms can be eaten, although some have been found to have a bad taste. Whether the stem is good to eat or not depends greatly on the morel species.

Can you eat too many morels?

Eating too many morels can cause gastric problems and diarrhea. Morel mushrooms have mildly toxic substances that can cause gastrointestinal issues if ingested raw or undercooked, if large amounts of them are eaten or when eaten with alcoholic beverages. So, it is advised not to eat too many morels at a time.

Can you drink alcohol with morels?

No. Alcoholic substances can cause gastric issues when eaten with morels. You should avoid having beer or licorice drinks while eating them to prevent stomach problems. Morels have hydrazine toxins in small amounts that react when consumed with alcohol.

Can you eat black morels?

Yes. The black morel species are considered good for eating as long as you cook them thoroughly. A particular species (Morchella importuna) called the black morel has a dark brown cap and is highly prized.


Yellow morels are a type of wild mushroom that is edible and highly sought after by gourmet cooks. These mushrooms are popular, particularly in french cuisine and other northwest European cuisines, and their rarity makes them expensive to purchase at the market. 

Credit to : The Outsider

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Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Environment and Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. My mission is to help other. You can use this knowledge to enhance your life THE BEST environments you possibly can.

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