Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In Sandstone Woods

I never find morels unless I'm not looking for them. Sunday afternoon, during our daily walk through my backyard (burned in November 2011 and for the past four years at different times of the year), once a monoculture of bush honeysuckle and wintercreeper, I was excited to see Carex davisii sprout up like proverbial gangbusters this year. "You're not going to believe it," Doug remarked while standing several steps away from me. "It's not a rabbit," (which we both want in the yard) "it's better." He pointed to a tall morel coming out of the blackened landscape. Oh, I love the long plant list for my urban flatwoods, and it's exciting to see interesting beetles (like that cute swamp milkweed beetle who showed up last year), snakes, birds, mosses, and all the other biota that find their way to my yard. But a morel? I spend ample time in the woods each spring and never find morels. But there it was, in my yard! (pictured, right) Today, we found two more back there in close proximity, which increases the chances they have the potential to spread...if the ground is suitable for habitation.

But yesterday was a bust. I went through hill and vale in interesting (burned historically, not lately) sandstone Ozark woodlands, an area complete with terrific rock outcrops and wood rat middens, spring wildflowers, mayapples galore, blooming dogwood, but no morels. I really don't lose sleep over my inability to find morels, and I don't resent the annual emails from a colleague boasting a haul of over 400 individual mushrooms in the course of a week. (I just guess he's lucky, he knows his spots, and surely he shares with people he cares about). A farmer's market stand on Saturday sold morels for 12$ a pint. Gorgeous mushrooms, but isn't finding them in the woods and seeing the suite of April wildflowers most of the fun?

4 comments:

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural said...

I spend a lot of time on Flickr and there's a photographer there I think you could appreciate - Ozarks Walkabout. All nature and flower photos. Just the other day, he posted morels. You can find him here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ozarkswalkabout/

Allison Vaughn said...

Thanks, Victoria! Good to hear from you, and hope you're having a great spring!

Scott Namestnik said...

I'm not good at finding morels, either... I think my eyes are focused on vascular plants. Yesterday, I was working on slag at a steel mill in Gary, Indiana, and my coworker found a lone morel poking through the artificial substrate. We chose not to eat it.

Allison Vaughn said...

I don't know any botanists who have luck finding them in large numbers. Our sedge guy here in Missouri is a morel hoarder, but he spends a lot of time in crapped out Missouri River bottoms with fescue and multiflora rose, but always finds upwards of 300 in that landscape type. We found two more back in the yard today! (But I was looking...)