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Blog - Black Morel Mushrooms

Planting Morel Mushrooms with EM's Landscape Black Morel Spawn

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The Everything Mushrooms Landscape Black Morel Spawn is composed of a recently described species of morel - Morchella importuna. In a paper by Kuo, et al (2012) they explain the importuna “epithet means “assertive” or “inconsiderate” in character; the species often is the cause of consternation and distress among gardeners and homeowners whose territory has been invaded”. They go onto explain M. importuna shows up unexpectedly in landscaped areas, planters, gardens and woodchip beds [1].

I personally can't imagine being distressed by any mushroom, especially a tasty Morel showing up in my garden. So how we interpret this description here at EM is that this is a great species for growing in your yard in disturbed soil!

The best time to “plant” Morel mushroom Mycelium is in the fall. The Morel mushrooms appear in the spring. Before spring weather the mycelia needs a head start to grow the sclerotium necessary for forming morel mushrooms. The onset and abundance of morel fruits depends on sclerotia formation followed by warming spring temperatures, accompanied by suitable precipitation.

Morchell importuna was first described in Western United States, since it's naming it has been located in the mid-west and eastern North America and as far away as China and Turkey. For this reason M. importuna is considered a transcontinental species. So it can probably adapt to most places that can support morel mycelium and fruiting.

Landscape Black Morel grows well where there are trees. Other Morel species have been associated with coniferous forests or with ash and old apple trees [1]. Well-studied species like M. esculenta (Yellow Morel) have been shown to grow better under Hickory species, American Elm and American Basswood [2]. We have M. esculenta available in liquid culture form, grown from a Large Yellow Morel found here in the foothills of East Tennessee. No specific plant species symbiotic association with M. importuna has been identified, so if you don't have trees try the kit in any shady spot you can find.

Many other Morel species have been associated with fire and specific interactions with plants after a burn [3-7]. For this reason some websites recommend adding ash to the morel planing site. Fire is has not been correlated with Landscape Black Morel fruiting, but being a relatively newly described and unstudied species that can change.

The fruiting of EM's mushroom kit in part involves a “trick” developed by Volk and Leonard for growing morels [8]. Volk and Leonord found that depletion of nutrients triggers the formation of morel sclerotia. Sclerotia are a compact mass of dormant hardened mycelia containing food reserves that can survive in dry environments for several years (visible as small orange balls on the EM Landscape Black Morel Kit). To trick the block into fruiting, it is planted or buried in soil without carbon amendments (nutrient poor substrate). The limited nutrient reserves left in the block can form large sclerotia, which under the right conditions will become morel mushrooms!

Planting is easy!

First scout the site. Look for a shaded, damp area sheltered from the wind. It is beneficial for the bed to receive natural rainfall, even if you are able to water regularly, do not choose a site where water pools. A slope out of the wind, under a shady tree, is a good location. It is important to put the bed somewhere easy to see, but out of the way of foot traffic. Morel mushrooms can appear anywhere from March until May depending on when spring sets in, so the easier it is to check on them the better.

We have found that Landscape Black Morel does well in soil with the addition of lime. If you have naturally occurring limestone in your area you are in luck. Otherwise you will need to add lime.

You will need:

Agricultural grade lime

Scissors

A trowel or shovel

Bury the Block:

  1. Dig a hole big enough for the block to fit with a couple of extra inches. 

  2. Sprinkle the hole heavily with agricultural lime and mix into the soil. 

  3. Carefully cut the bag down the side, gingerly remove the top layer of wood only, and place it in the hole. Discard the lower layer of grain. 

  4. Mix the dirt removed from the hole with a ½ cup of lime.
  5. Cover the morel mycelium block with the limed soil. 

  6. Ignore the spot until spring.
  7. Check often in the spring, especially after a warm rain.

This strain has been successfully fruited in a disturbed garden habitat. However, even with the formation of mycelium and sclerotium, there are many factors that will influence the formation of morel mushrooms. Areas where morel mushrooms are found locally are more likely to have success. Even in good conditions morel spawn might not fruit for years after planting. For best results, plant spawn outdoors in fall or early winter.

1. Kuo, M., et al., Taxonomic revision of true morels (Morchella) in Canada and the United States. Mycologia, 2012. 104(5): p. 1159-1177.

2. Mihail, J.D., J.N. Bruhn, and P. Bonello, Spatial and temporal patterns of morel fruiting. Mycological Research, 2007. 111: p. 339-346.

3. Baynes, M., et al., A novel plant-fungal mutualism associated with fire. Fungal Biology, 2012. 116(1): p. 133-144.

4. Masaphy, S., L. Zabari, and G. Gander-Shagug, Morchella conica Pers. proliferation in post-fire forests in northern Israel. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences, 2008. 56(4): p. 315-319.

5. Duchesne, L.C. and M.G. Weber, HIGH-INCIDENCE OF THE EDIBLE MOREL MORCHELLA-CONICA IN A JACK PINE, PINUS-BANKSIANA, FOREST FOLLOWING PRESCRIBED BURNING. Canadian Field-Naturalist, 1993. 107(1): p. 114-116.

6. Greene, D.F., M. Hesketh, and E. Pounden, Emergence of morel (Morchella) and pixie cup (Geopyxis carbonaria) ascocarps in response to the intensity of forest floor combustion during a wildfire. Mycologia, 2010. 102(4): p. 766-773.

7. Pilz, D., et al., Productivity and diversity of morel mushrooms in healthy, burned, and insect-damaged forests of northeastern Oregon. Forest Ecology and Management, 2004. 198(1-3): p. 367-386.

8. Volk, T.J. and T.J. Leonard, PHYSIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL-STUDIES OF SCLEROTIUM FORMATION AND MATURATION IN ISOLATES OF MORCHELLA-CRASSIPES. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 1989. 55(12): p. 3095-3100.