Umbrella false morel (Gyromitra californica)

one of the only mushrooms that we found out this spring
one of the few mushrooms that we found out this spring

I normally don’t write-up anything on mushrooms that you shouldn’t eat, but then I realized it would be good to have some of the others included just to help people identify some of the look a likes to the delicious edible ones.  That and I couldn’t find any of the edible morels today while I was wandering the woods.  This spring has been very dry so there is not a lot out in the woods.  This is the same problem that we had last fall unfortunately while looking for chanterelle. This mushroom is not edible!  

Other common names: California elven saddle (used to be Helvella californica)

Description/features:

  • Cap is domed, umbrella-like, or wavy and spreading, the edge of cap is not attached to the stalk
  • Caps are yellow-brown to dark brown (almost black) smooth and some what wrinkled .  But not honeycombed or pitted.
  • Stalks have prominent ribs that extend up the underside and underneath the cap.

Locations you can find them: in the woods (yes I know that is obvious)  mainly under conifers along old logging roads.  They can be found fall, winter, and spring in the pacific northwest.  I have only seen them in the spring so far.  Normally in the fall other species of helvella are coming up.

Some great reference books:

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora (smaller pocket guide that is excellent to use)

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (National Audubon Society Field Guides) (all inclusive but fairly large)

There are also several E-books that can be found on Kindle unlimited

 

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