Morel Mushrooms

Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushrooms are special mushrooms that only grow this time of year. They are found in the spring (May and June here in Alberta, but as early as April on the west coast) in places that experience a distinct cold weather season with winter snow.

They are a critical part of the boreal forest eco system and aid the decomposition and regeneration of forests and woodlands. Morel mushrooms are the reproductive part of morel mycelium, the organism found underground throughout forests and woodlands that helps to break down dead trees and vegetation into nutrients. Once the decayed vegetation is in nutrient state, the mycelium distributes these nutrients to the live vegetation surrounding it.

Morel mycelium is a critical part of the eco system as it aids the decomposition and regeneration of forests and woodlands. When mature, morel mushrooms release spores in the air and once the spores settle on the ground, they grow by sending out branching filaments (called hyphae) down into the ground to help compose plant matter in the new area. This act of composting done by morel mushrooms helps to protect trees (particularly fir, pine and poplar trees as well as saskatoon bushes) from invasive species and diseases.

 

Morel Mushroom photo by Beth McDonald. Used with permission

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