At this time of year, eager and intrepid mushroom hunters go in search of the highly sought morel. Understood by many to be one of the finest delicacies of the fungi world, hunters are loath to reveal their hot spots. The harvest window is sudden and short, meaning one has to be in the right place at the right time. Before I go any further, I am not an expert by any stretch, so do pay attention to the sources listed at the end of this feature.
Morels are in the family Morchellaceae, with three genera and several more species. Most of these are considered edible, but it is highly recommended that they be cooked. Similar enough in appearance, false morels, family Helvellacaea, contain many poisonous species, meaning the harvester needs to have solid knowledge and identification skills. As in all wild harvesting, caution is the first rule.
Sticking with the true morels, or sponge mushrooms, distinguishing features (with the exception of the cup shaped morels, genus Disciotis) are thin brain like fleshy folds, brown to tan color and hollow stem. I have been told and shown that morels like apple trees and orchards. For a more extensive look at habitat, I refer you to this http://amateurmycology.com/?p=637.
And for further reading sources:
-Mushrooms by Kent and Vera McKnight (Peterson Field Guide)
-Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora
Carol Broderson asked me to post these pictures of the morels that she and Chris found. They left quite a few.