May to October is mushroom hunting season in the Rocky Mountains. If names like pig's ear, puff balls, and fairy ring mushrooms don’t excite you, remember edible mushrooms are quite valuable, not to mention delicious.
Last Saturday, Stokes Nature Center lead a trip up Logan Canyon with Michael Piep, an expert mycologist from the Utah State University Herbarium. Everyone took home their finds in a paper bag, the best vessel to transport delicate mushrooms.
“Ooo - this is pig's ear, with the Latin name Gomphus clavitis,” Michael Peip told fascinated mushroom hunters.
Veteran mushroom hunters will share their knowledge with you, but as is tradition, they will never share the exact location where mushrooms were found. Perhaps it is their elusiveness and mysterious methods of reproductions that make mushroom hunting so fun, said Sasha Broadstone, director of education at Stokes Nature Center.
“My favorite part is seeing how excited people get when seeing mushrooms for the first time," she said. "They are a seemingly magical organism the way they pop up overnight. We have all ages from as young as nine years old up to retirement age and everyone in between their eyes just light up when hunting for mushrooms”
Black Morels can be found from late May to late June around 8,000 feet in elevation in mixed aspen and pine stands. Yellow Morels fruit a little earlier and are found at lower elevations along river banks and in old orchards. Remember, before throwing your Morels in a pan make sure you didn’t harvest false morels which are poisonous and can be distinguished by their round, wrinkled, brain-like crowns.