Gardener discovers giant morel in XXXXXX

Erin Schanen


I know two things about morel mushrooms: they are delicious and you never disclose where you find them. So in the interest of honoring the second rule, some information will be omitted from the following account of finding my first morel.

I was in the middle of removing some shrubs from [location redacted] when I almost stepped on the largest morel I’ve ever seen. It was slightly slumped over and obviously past its prime when I found it. Its cap was longer than my hand and its thick stem was at least 2 inches in diameter.

After checking to make sure it was hollow inside (a toxic lookalike mushroom is not), I took a few photos for proof and shared them with some morel-loving friends who have their own secret spots to hunt for them. Their first comments were about the size, but the follow up questions were the same across the board — “Where did you find that?”

And just as I was about to explain, I realized it was a trap. Trust no one, I was told. I’ve heard tell that morel locations are sometimes only disclosed posthumously through a will or a note left behind in a safety deposit box.

I’ve read that morels are often found near where ash and elm trees have grown. Other reports say to look at the base of dying trees.

Temperature and moisture are key, I hear, although I don’t see how that correlates to finding that giant mushroom on a hot Memorial Day during a very dry spring following a winter without a lot of snow.

Disturbed ground can also cause mushroom spores to fruit, or so I read. It’s entirely possible that some ground in [location redacted] was recently disturbed because that’s just what happens in a garden.

Morel-hunting friends shared photos of their morel hauls with me, and I’ll note that what my harvest lacked in quantity, it made up for in size. When I asked one such friend if smaller morels tasted better than large ones, he said, “It doesn’t matter, they are all delicious.”

I searched for more nearby but came up empty, which didn’t surprise me since I obviously found this one after its prime. One friend who recognized the background in my morel photo swore he’d never disclose my secret, although he asked if he should bring over some flour and butter, which happen to be two of the key ingredients for pan-fried morel mushrooms. If my secret morel spot produces next year, I may have to pay him off to maintain his silence.

This time of year there’s always something new showing off in the garden. This week it’s a ‘Guernsey Cream’ clematis blooming its head off and the enormous blousy blooms of the tree peony. But none of those can hold a candle to the surprises I have nothing to do with, like an enormous morel mushroom.

I could tell you more about what else is blooming within view of my secret morel patch, but I decided to write it on a scrap of paper and put it in the safety deposit box instead.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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