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How to Find Morel Mushrooms by Spotting Their Favorite Trees

  How to Find Morel Mushrooms 

by Spotting Their Favorite Trees in the Eastern U.S.

If you're out hunting for morel mushrooms in the Eastern U.S., knowing which trees these tasty fungi like to hang out with can make your search a lot easier. Plus, with some trees getting hit hard by pests and diseases, there's actually more dead wood around for morels to grow on. Here's a simple guide to help you spot the trees that are best buds with morels.

1. Ash Trees

Ash tree bark showing the criss cross pattern and typical damage from woodpeckers searching for emerald ash borer larvae

- Bark: Ash trees have a cool diamond pattern in their bark that's easier to spot on big, old trees. Younger trees are smoother and not so bumpy.

ash tree bud closeup showing the velvety appearance

- Buds and Leaves: The buds are dark and fuzzy, and the leaves are made up of 5 to 9 smaller leaves all lined up next to each other.

the leaves of an ash tree showing the opposite arangement and the compound leaf shape

- Looking from Far Away: Big ash trees have a nice round shape at the top, like a big, leafy umbrella.

Emerald Ash Borer

- Why Morels Like Them: Ash trees are having a tough time because of the emerald ash borer, a bug that's killing them off. But the silver lining is that more morel mushrooms are popping up around these struggling trees.

2. Elm Trees

Bark: The bark is characterized by deep furrows and a criss-cross pattern. The bark also tends to be spongy and soft like a cork.

- Buds and Leaves: Elm buds are tiny and a bit hairy, while the leaves are uneven around the edges and have a lopsided base.

- Looking from Far Away:  Elms look like they're reaching out their arms, with a spread-out, vase-like shape.

- Why Morels Like Them:  Elm trees have been hit hard by Dutch elm disease, leaving behind lots of dead trees. Morels love this and often pop up around them.

3. Tulip Poplar

- Bark: Young tulip poplars have smooth, greenish bark, but it gets rugged and gray as they get older.

- Buds and Leaves: The buds look a bit like a duck's bill, and the leaves are shaped kind of like a tulip, which is pretty unique.

- Looking from Far Away: These trees are tall and straight, sticking out above the rest with their pointy tops.

- Why Morels Like Them: Tulip poplars aren't getting sick like the ash and elm, but they're still great places to find morels, especially in woods where these trees mix with others.

A Little Bit About What's Happening to These Trees

With all the trouble ash and elm trees are facing (thanks to pests and diseases), you might think it's all bad news. But for morel mushroom hunters, it means more places to find their favorite fungi. Dead and dying trees are like a welcome mat for morels, giving them just what they need to grow.

So, next time you're out in the woods, keep an eye out for these trees. Not only will you get better at spotting them, but you might just find yourself stumbling upon a jackpot of morel mushrooms. And remember, be cool about how much you take—leave some for the next person and for the forest to keep doing its thing. Happy mushroom hunting!


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