From exploring the Great Lakes to playing golf to going canoeing or kayaking, there’s no shortage of springtime activities in Michigan. If you look forward to exploring the woods, hiking, and getting in touch with nature, morel mushroom hunting in Michigan is one of the best springtime activities.
Believe it or not, you can find more than 2,000 kinds of wild mushrooms in the Mitten State, and morels are among the safest. Of course, morels require just the right mix of moisture and temperature to grow. But with the right conditions, the month of May is prime morel mushroom foraging season.
Morel mushroom hunting in Michigan can be equally rewarding and frustrating. If you can find morel spots, you can go back to them year after year.
If you’re a novice hunter, though, you may not know where to look and others may be a little reluctant to divulge their morel mushroom hunting secrets. Hopefully, our hunting guide can assist with your first morel adventures!
What Do Michigan Morels Look Like?
If you’re new to hunting prized Michigan edible mushrooms, it helps to know exactly what you’re looking for. Morels come in shades of gray, black, and yellow. They’re most often distinguished by their long caps which look like honeycombs.
Morel mushrooms usually stand between 1 inch and 4 inches tall and are about 1 inch to 2 inches around. When you find them, be sure to pinch off the stem at ground level so that the “roots” remain intact for regrowth.
How to Find Morel Mushrooms in Michigan
For any morel mushroom hunter, how to find morel mushrooms is a million-dollar question with a slightly complicated answer. Morels can grow in a lot of places, and where they grow from year to year can be very unpredictable.
Typical Locations & Signs
Usually, morel mushrooms are found in wooded areas, especially around dying or dead trees. But, some morel hunters report finding them in fields, landscaping mulch in busy metro areas, and old orchards.
An experienced Michigan morel mushroom hunter will tell you that one of the best things you can do when you’re looking for morels is to walk slowly.
If you’re visiting a Michigan State Park, for example, look for people taking slow, purposeful steps among the trees. They’re likely keeping their eyes peeled on the forest floor a few feet ahead, looking for signs of these coveted Michigan wild mushrooms.
Widespread Growth in Spring
Morels can be found in every one of Michigan’s 83 counties. The morel season can start as early as mid-April in South Michigan and last until mid-June in the Upper Peninsula.
The weather has a huge impact on when the mushrooms grow. They require daytime temperatures of at least 50 degrees and nighttime temperatures of at least 40 degrees. They prefer dampness, so search for them a few days after a warm spring shower.
When hunting for morels in Michigan forests, it’s important to note that while May is Morel Month in Michigan, the actual fruiting period is from late April until mid-June, depending on the location and species.
And don’t forget, Michigan morels are not just found in the north – some of the best morel mushrooms can be found in southern Michigan!
Help for Novice Hunters
Any way you slice it, there are a lot of places to look for morels. However, experienced hunters may not want to give up their favorite hot spots.
Don’t worry, though, because the Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants to help you find morels. Plus, organizations like the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club are willing to share their knowledge with beginners.
The best advice, though, is to look anywhere and everywhere. You may find morels at your favorite state park, along your fence, or around cleared logging areas. The more you look, the better your chances are of finding morels. Once you find a spot, keep it to yourself and check back every year.
Morel Mushroom Hunting Tips & Tricks
Morel mushroom hunting in Michigan can be a great way to spend a day or even a weekend. But it’s important to dress appropriately, know what to look for, and be aware of your surroundings. To that end, here are some helpful morel hunting tips:
- Don’t trespass. There’s plenty of public land that you can search on, so avoid private property.
- Dress appropriately. If you’re walking in the woods, boots are a must-have.
- Carry a compass or GPS. It can be helpful in unfamiliar areas.
- Know what to look for. False morels do exist, so get a wild mushroom identification book before you go hunting.
- Pick morels correctly. Be sure to cut or pinch the stem at ground level.
- Watch out for ticks. You’re looking for morels, but you don’t want to take home uninvited guests.
Watch Out for False Morels
If you’re lucky while morel mushroom hunting in Michigan, these edible mushrooms can make for a tasty meal. Experienced hunters love the bold, earthy taste of morels, especially when they’ve been seasoned and fried in butter.
But, as previously mentioned, there are false morels. The false morels can be poisonous and cause all kinds of health issues, including kidney and liver problems. You want to know what you’re cooking before you eat any wild mushrooms.
How to Tell the Difference
For novice hunters, it can be hard to tell the difference because false morels grow in the same spots as true morels. But true morels are hollow inside — a good way to distinguish them as real — and false morel mushrooms are often wrinkled or ridged.
If you’re new to hunting, try to go with an experienced hunter who can help you spot the mushrooms and identify true morels. For safety, it’s important to have someone who has experience with mushroom identification help you the first couple of times.
Mushroom Festivals in Michigan
Believe it or not, you can celebrate all things morel at two mushroom festivals in Michigan. Rookie and experienced mushroom hunters alike will find fun activities to participate in.
Mesick Mushroom Festival
Mesick is known as one of the mushroom capitals of the world, and at the annual Mesick Mushroom Festival, there’s something for everyone. You’ll find carnival rides, crafts, a flea market, and several contests for mushroom hunters.
National Morel Mushroom Festival
You’ll also want to check out Boyne City’s National Morel Mushroom Festival. It brings together hundreds of mushroom lovers from around the world, all with a love of morels.
During the Boyne City morel festival, hunters take to the woods in hopes of winning the top prize, which is awarded to the hunter who finds the most mushrooms. Also, you can find out everything and anything you want to know about this delectable mushroom.
At the Boyne City morel festival, you can find tasty treats from local restaurants and recipes to try at home too. You’ll even hear songs dedicated to the morel!
Other Ways to Get Michigan Morel Mushrooms
You Can Buy Morels
For hunters, there’s nothing better than coming home with a basket of these awesome Michigan mushrooms. But not all hunters have the same luck.
If you’ve come up empty while morel mushroom hunting in Michigan, you can always buy morels from a licensed seller. If you do that, though, be prepared to pay a hefty price.
You might find some in your local grocery stores or at Michigan farmers’ markets, but you may pay $30 or more for a pound of foraged mushrooms.
Try Growing Morel Mushrooms
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can actually try growing morel mushrooms at home with a morel mushroom growing kit.
Frequently Asked Questions About Morel Mushroom Hunting in Michigan
Is it morel season in Michigan?
Prime morel mushrooms season is usually in May. In the preceding few months, the growth of morels is fostered by wet nights and dry, warm days.
Where do I find morel mushrooms in Michigan?
The simple answer is that you can find morels just about anywhere. You can go trekking through the woods or check around your backyard if it has a lot of trees.
Morel mushrooms can be found in all Michigan counties. The key is to just keep your eyes peeled.
How long are morels good in the fridge?
Morels can be kept in the fridge for up to a week or so, but we recommend eating them soon after you pick them for the best flavors and freshness. Keep them fresh in the fridge in a brown bag or a dish with a moist paper towel over them to prevent them from rotting.
When is the best time to look for morel mushrooms in Michigan?
The best time to find morel mushrooms in Michigan is usually in May. In the preceding few months, the growth of morels is fostered by wet nights and dry, warm days.
Plan Your Adventure Morel Mushroom Hunting in Michigan
For dedicated morel mushroom hunters, there’s nothing quite like morel mushroom season in Michigan. Whether you’re just getting into it or a 10-year mushroom hunting veteran, keep your eyes open.
You never know when and where you’ll find morels. When you do, take note of where they are. Once you’ve found some prosperous spots, you can check those out every year and build your knowledge and enjoyment of morels and mushroom hunting.