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Michigan’s morel mushroom celebrated in festivals and frying pans

May is morel month in Michigan, but the actual fruiting period is from late April until mid-June, depending on the location and species, the state DNR says.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Morel mushroom hunters are beginning to scout new territory along with favorite hotspots as conditions begin to improve for Michigan’s favorite fungi.

Among those on the prowl is Brianna Hoogterp. The Caledonia woman was scouting Cannonsburg State Game Area in Kent County on a recent afternoon.

“I really like hiking, being outdoors, but I also like hunting for morel mushrooms,’’ she said. “So, I like to get out here in the spring and use that state land.’’

With more than 4.6 million acres of state land open to the public, there’s ample opportunity to find morel mushrooms, provided you know when and where to look.

It’s rare that a seasoned expert will freely divulge local hotspots, but as a general rule, some locations are better than others.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Lt. Gerald Thayer isn’t a morel hunter himself, but he’s been around long enough to know a few tricks.

“If you know of a controlled burn somewhere from last year or the year before, that’s a good spot to check,’’ Thayer said. “Usually. Hillsides are also a good spot to check.’’

The DNR has information on its website about where to look for morels.  

It recommends scouting large burn sites in forested areas, especially in burned areas where jack, white or red pine once grew. Grassy and other non-forest areas are not as likely to produce morels, the DNR says.

The DNR website also includes information on identifying morel mushrooms. 

“You want to make sure it’s a true morel,’’ Thayer said. “You don’t want to eat something you shouldn’t and get poisoned. That’s very important.’’

During morel season, you may find morel mushrooms offered for sale. Before that happens, they have to be identified by a wild mushroom expert who has been certified by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

For more information on certification requirements click here.

The morel is also celebrated in various festivals.

Boyne City is hosting its National Morel Mushroom Festival May 14-16.  For more information, click here. The event has been downscaled due to COVID-19. Boyne City is located in Charlevoix County.

In Wexford County, the annual Mesick Mushroom Festival is slated to run May 7-9. The festival is celebrating its 62nd year. For more information, click here

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