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yellow morel mushroom identification

Identifying Yellow Morels – Taxonomy, Characteristics, and Environments

The yellow morel is also known as Morchella Esculenta, sponge morel, morel mushroom and true morel. It is a type of fungus that are in the Morchellaceae family known as Ascomycota. It is one of the most common mushrooms in the world, and certainly the most sought after. The fruit body of the morel starts with a compact gray sponge with light ridges. The ridges the stretch to make the conspicuous yellow sponge with robust ridges and pits raised on a white stem.

The cap of the yellow morel measure between 0.8 inches and 3 inches in width, the length measures between 0.9 inches and 4 inches and are attached to the stem of the plant on the lower part forming a hollow cavity. The pits are irregular and rounded. The stem measures about 4 inches long, its thickness is about 2 inches and turns from white to yellow while it is growing. The mushrooms prospers mostly under woods, especially in spring, but this depends on the weather, but is linked to woods, old orchards, burnt areas and disturbed areas.


Taxonomy and naming

The yellow morel was initially known as Phallus Esculents. The man behind this discovery is Carl Linnaeus. However, the name was later changed to the current one by the man Elias Magnus in 1801.

There are many names to Morchella esculenta. It is known as morel mushroom, sponge morel, haystack, molly moocher and dry land fish and so much more. In Nepal it is referred to as Guchi Chyau. These terms are derived from Latin esculenta which means edible.

The name Morchella Esculenta has also been used to name other types of yellow morels found all over the world. for instance, in 2014, Richard and his team carried out an analysis of the DNA to prevent M. esculenta from being a name for a single species of yellow morel that are found in certain parts of Chine and Europe. Other species of the morel are also found in North America, but they have been given other scientific names.



The cap of the yellow morel is brownish cream. They the turn to pale brown or tan to graying brown. The pits of the morel are much darker than the ridges. The general shape of the yellow morel is oval, but at times they are cone-shaped with an elongated tip or a rounded one. The caps are very hollow and are connected to the lower part of the morel. The length of the caps is between 0.9 inched and 3 inches, and feature a height of 0.8 and 3.9 inches. In addition, the flesh of the morel is quite brittle. The stem may be hollow, pale yellow, club shaped or straight or bulbous base. The whole morel has a granular texture, and measures between two and ten centimeter long and two and five centimeter thick.


looking at yellow morels on the microscopic levelMicroscopic characteristics

The spores of the yellow morel range from cream to white to yellow in deposit. However, it is not easy to obtain the shape of a spore print thanks to the shape of the fruit body. In addition, the pores arise from the asci that line the pits. Furthermore, the ridges are a bit sterile. The asci features around 8 pores. They are thin-walled, smoother, translucent and ellipsoidal. Additionally, each pore measures around 17 and 21 µm by between 8 and 11 µm.

On the other hand, the paraphyses measure between 19 and 20 µm by between 223 and 300 µm, and they are cylindrical and filamentous. There is also the hyphae of the stem which is hyaline, interwoven and has width of between 5 and 10 µm.


For many years, the yellow morels have successfully be grown in a lab. The first person to describe the development stage of the ascomata was R. Ower, who measured the plant while growing under a controlled chamber. Other deep research was done by researchers Thomas Volk and Leonard, between 1989 and 1990.  It has been found that young fruit bodies start their development with a highly dense hyphae, but this happens most when the environment is conducive and there is availability of nutrients.