Introduction to Morels

Morels on the forest floor. Can you spot them?
Hello! I'm Michel and I'm a forager. During the time of late March until late November I'm in the woods almost every day. Searching, hunting, documenting, and taking home a lot of goodies that the forest has to offer. From Mushrooms to edible plants, there are lots of great things out there! Since the season hasn't quite begun yet (but counting down the days!) I thought I'd start with what I have learned about the first thing I will be hunting. Morels. Morels (Morchella) are a common yet very well hidden edible mushroom found across the United States. In this area of the Appalachia (East Tennessee) our season usually starts around the end of March or Early April and lasts only a few weeks. My 'rule' that I have learned is this for when the season starts: Once you have had 5-6 consecutive days where the temperature is around 70 during the day, and around 40 during the night, its time to start looking! There are several different types of morels in this area. Yellow and Black are the most common. I have found that even though the 'yellow' ones looks more desirable, the black ones taste the best!
In the places I search, the leaf coverage is usually very heavy on the ground, so it can be hard to spot them. But once you get going, they just seem to leap right out at you! Rule of thumb my father in law taught me, "If you see one, sit down, and look around!"
To understand why this works, you have to understand how mushrooms grow. Picture the forest floor underneath the fallen leaf coverage. Imagine there is a giant spiderweb underneath that covers the ground. This is the 'root' work of the mushrooms, called the Mycelium, and the mushrooms just "pop!" right out of them. They reproduce through spores, so be sure if your out hunting you use a mesh bag, or a basket, so the spores can fall and next year, you will have even more! Morels NEVER grow on trees.
Some people say "Ok, that's great, so where do you go?" Nope! Sorry, but mushroom hunters like to keep our spots secret. If you are wondering where to look, well, all over! Usually a good wooded area, that minimal sun hits (they aren't fans of heat). On banks seem to be best, and a lot of times on banks where a lot of moisture collects. They are a fungus, and like most prefer cool, damp areas. In my hunting (and that's just in my area) I have never found morels near pine, or in heavy pine areas. I find some around Oak trees, but almost every time I have found a cluster under Ash trees. (We'll get to tree identification another day). 
That's the basics of the Morel Mushroom. Once the season begins, I'll be giving some tips, and even sharing some recipes. Morels aren't the only thing that starts popping up that time of year!
Until next time, Happy Hunting!