The Great Iowa Morel Hunt Continues

For seven years we have asked for your help in our ten-year survey of morels and false morels in Iowa. In 1984 Lois Tiffany and George Knaphus of the Botany Department at Iowa State University and Don Huffman of the Biology Department at Central College began a survey of morels and false morels in Iowa as a special project of The Prairie States Mushroom Club. We wanted to know how many kinds of morels and false morels occur in Iowa and the distribution of each kind in the state. Fruiting of these fungi is influenced by moisture and temperatures each spring, so information collected over a period of years is much more useful in interpreting them. To date, five species of morels (genus Morchella) and four species of false morels (genus Gyromitra and genus Verpa have been documented. For more information on morels and false morels see Pm-1204, "Morels, false morels and other cup fungi" or the Iowa State Press book "Mushrooms and other fungi of the Midcontinental United States."

In spite of excellent support from mushroom hunters throughout the state who have submitted samples, there are still areas of the state from which we have received few or no samples. Morels could occur in every county of the state and we would like to be able to document this. So we are asking for your help to make the Morel Survey as complete as possible.

Cooperators are encouraged to send specimens of each kind of morel or false morel collected to Lois Tiffany or George Knaphus, Plant Pathology Extension Office, Bessey Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011 or to bring materials to their County Extension Office for shipment. Specimens can also be sent to Don Huffman, Biology Department, Central College, Pella, Iowa 50219.

The following information concerning the collected morels or false morels would be very helpful:

  1. County where collected.
  2. Collection area (floodplain, hillside under oaks, etc.).
  3. Plants in the area (major trees, shrubs, etc.).
  4. Date of collection.
  5. Any additional field comments.

Specimens will ship best wrapped in dry paper towels or dry newspapers. They will spoil in one day if wrapped in plastic! The morel specimens need not be the best ones you can find, the will be useful to us for spores and other information even if they are not in the best condition for eating. Thanks for your continuing interest and help.

This article originally appeared in the March 18, 1992 issue, p. 32.


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