Morel mushrooms are among the most highly prized springtime mushrooms. They are dark brown to black with a honeycomb cap that makes them especially distinctive. Morel mushrooms can be cultivated or found in the wild. Morel mushrooms do not need a particular type of soil, although they prefer certain growing conditions.
Morel mushrooms prefer moist, damp and mild conditions. The soil for morel mushrooms should be routinely damp. In the wild, morels can most often be found in wooded areas that are shaded and have a lot of leaf litter. They are also frequently found in areas that are close to a body of water or receive significant amounts of rainfall. The coverage of the leaf litter and the naturally damp conditions are ideal for growing morel mushrooms.
Morel mushrooms can most often be found in areas that have a high soil nutrition content. This may be the result of a particularly rich clay soil or an area that contains many deciduous trees. Deciduous trees provide leaf mold mulch that, when decomposed, creates a nutrient-rich soil.
Morel mushrooms grow especially well in areas where there is a significant amount of wood ash. For lawn-cultivated morel mushrooms, wood ash is often sprinkled over the lawn patch to provide extra nutrients for the mushrooms. This is particularly important when the mushrooms are first establishing themselves. In the wild, morel mushrooms often have a bumper crop in areas where there had recently been a wildfire.
Morel mushrooms grow well near older trees, because they enjoy the nutrients the trees give and the protection they provide. Morel mushrooms have a preference for elm trees, although they have also been found in orchard soil near apple trees. Along the West Coast, morels prefer Douglas fir trees. But be aware of morel-like mushrooms that are found near aspen trees and red pine trees. These are the preferred trees for the poisonous false morel mushrooms.