Wild Morel Mushroom.
Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible sac fungi closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi in the order Pezizales (division Ascomycota). These distinctive fungi have a honeycomb appearance due to the network of ridges with pits composing their caps. Morels are prized by gourmet cooks, particularly in French cuisine. Due to difficulties in cultivation, commercial harvesting of wild morels has become a multimillion-dollar industry in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, in particular North America, Turkey, China, the Himalayas, India, and Pakistan and Kashmir where these highly prized fungi are found in abundance.
Typified by Morchella esculenta in 1794, the genus has been the source of considerable taxonomical controversy throughout the years, mostly with regard to the number of species involved, with some mycologists recognising as few as three species and others over thirty. Current molecular phylogenetics suggest there might be over seventy species of Morchella worldwide, most of them exhibiting high continental endemism and provincialism.
The genus is currently the focus of extensive phylogenetic, biogeographical, taxonomical and nomenclatural studies, and several new species have been described from Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Israel, Spain, and Turkey.
are a highly prized species of wild mushrooms that can be identified by their honeycombed, hollow, cone-shaped cap ranging in size from 2 to 4 inches high. Earthy, buttery, smoky, and nutty, they are incredibly flavorful and need little embellishment.
Morels come in a range of colors from a rich tan, blonde, or grey to an extremely dark brown. These particular morels are #1 grade, meaning each mushroom is a whole, young specimen with white stems.
This first species colonize forests that have experienced fires the previous summer,may explain the intensely earthy, smoky, and nutty flavors that characterize their taste.
Morchella Dill. ex Pers. : Fr. was typified by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon in 1794, with Morchella esculenta designated as the type species for the genus. Among early pioneers who took an interest in the genus, were mycologists Julius Vincenz von Krombholz and Émile Boudier, who, in 1834 and 1897respectively, published several species and varieties, accompanied by meticulously illustrated iconographic plates. The seminal taxon Morchella elata, whose true identity still remains unresolved, was described by Elias Fries in 1822, from a fir forest in Sweden. Other classical, early-proposed names include Morchella deliciosa, also described by Fries in 1822, Morchella semilibera, the half-free morel, originally described by de Candolle and sanctioned by Fries in 1822,Morchella vulgaris, which was recombined by Samuel Gray as a distinct species in 1821 following a forma of M. esculenta previously proposed by Persoon, and Morchella angusticeps, a large-spored species described by American mycologist Charles Peck in 1887. Morchella purpurascens, the purple morel, was first described by Boudier as a variety of M. elata in 1897 based on an 1834 plate by Krombholz, and was recombined as a distinct species in 1985 by Emile Jacquetant. Morchella eximia, a globally-occurring fire-associated species was also described by Boudier in 1910. The old, widely applied name Morchella conica, featuring in many field guides and literature across several countries, has been shown by Richard and colleagues to be illegitimate.