Gyromitra esculenta, a false morel

Mushroom Magicians

    Morels are like the magicians of the mushroom world.  They perform the trick of popping up in one state one day, only to vanish and reappear in another the next!  How do they do it?  Well, like a real magician, they don't reveal their secrets.  It is impossible to know exactly when or where a false morel will show up, but certain factors like climate and preferred habitat can help locate them more easily.

     The false morel’s geography is extremely widespread.  It is common throughout the entire continent of Europe, especially in Germany and Poland.  It is also found throughout Asia, everywhere from Russia to Indonesia.  In North America, it can be found from Mexico to Alaska, but it is most common in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and the Rockies.  Finally, the false morel can be found in North Africa and the Middle East regions around the Mediterranean Sea.  This particular species has not been reported in the southern hemisphere.   

    The geographic distribution of Gyromitra esculenta makes sense based on its lifestyle.  It shows up in places with moderate temperatures and plenty of moisture because fungi have no tolerance for very hot, dry climates.  Therefore, as the year goes on, it is seen first in the south then “moves” north.  This explains why it can be found in early spring in California and in the Rocky Mountains as late as June.A cloud forest permeated with fog

    False morels are abundant in forests with soil rich in silica.  It can grow in deciduous forests with oaks and maples, coniferous woods full of Douglas Fur, or mixed forests.  In fact, they have even been recorded in more tropical climates in "cloud forests." 
    These are forests that grow in the mountains of tropical regions.  They are called cloud forests because of the near constant presence of fog, which causes extremely high humidity (above, right).  The false morel has only been recorded at elevations above 8,000 feet in these forests.  This is because it is much cooler at that altitude than in surrounding lowlands.  The moderate temperature combined with the constant A forest of pine, a common habitat for the false morelwater availability make these forests a mushroom paradise.  Despite being found in cloud forests, Gyromitra esculenta is definitely most abundant in pine forests in temperate climates like the northern United States and Europe. 

    False morels don’t always need a forest to grow.  Specimens have been found on the plains as well as in unique environments like urban yards and near melting snow banks in the mountains.  It is unclear why they grow in these specific habitats other than they provide the right type of nutrients for the morel.  False morels can occupy diverse habitats because they are well evolved to live in that environment.  Visit the adaptations page to learn more about how false morels are fitted to their ecological niche. 

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