Are Morels Poisonous?

Are morels poisonous? Morels contain a mildly toxic substance, so they are not to be eaten raw or in large quantities. Some people have even had a bad or allergic reaction to morels, so you should only try a small amount when you try morels for the first time.

Keep reading to learn which morels are safe to eat and what kind of symptoms you can get from eating too many or raw morels. 

Can you get sick from morels?

You can become ill from eating either raw morels or too many morels. It’s also possible to develop a bad reaction to morels over time, so even if you could eat them in the past without getting sick, there is a chance that they could make you sick in the future. 

Can morels kill you?

Ture morels will not kill you. The worst you can expect is an upset stomach or, in more extreme cases, an allergic reaction, but even that usually isn’t deadly. Only false morels will kill you as they look a lot like true morels but are a different mushroom species altogether. 

Will a false morel kill you?

False morels can cause death, and in most cases, they will make whoever eats them severely ill. However, some people can eat cooked false morels without any symptoms. Raw false morels are generally considered poisonous, and you should avoid eating them. 

What happens if you eat a false morel mushroom? 

Symptoms after eating a false morel will start within two to 24 hours, including headaches, diarrhea, lack of coordination, and stomach pains. According to the University of Alaska, severe reactions can result in fever, convulsions, and even coma and death. 

How can you tell a real morel? 

True morels are easier to spot by cutting them open and seeing if they are hollow on the inside. If there is any cotton substance inside, then it is not a true morel. Most edible morels also have a stem that attaches to the bottom of the cap, with a few exceptions for half-free varieties.

Luckily, true morels are very distinct with their wrinkly caps, and there aren’t any mushrooms that look quite like them except for false morels. Their district features make it difficult to mistake any other mushroom, harmless or otherwise, with a morel itself. 

How can you tell a false morel? 

False morels have a cotton-like substance inside, whereas true morels are entirely hollow. They also have free-hanging caps meaning the cap hangs over where the stem attaches to it. However, as the State of Michigan points out, some edible half-free morels also have free-hanging caps. 

What to do if you eat a false morel

If you think you might have eaten a false morel, you should go to the nearest emergency hospital immediately. Even if you aren’t displaying any symptoms, there can be a delay in symptoms before things quickly get worse. 

Other steps suggested by the State of Michigan website include taking a picture of any leftovers of the mushroom you te or taking a sample of the mushroom with you to the hospital. It would be best to put the sample into a paper bag since they will fall apart in plastic. 

This sample or photo will make it easier for the doctor to identify which type of mushroom it is and what you need to recover quicker. 

Where do morels grow?

Morels tend to grow in wooded areas as it provides shade, moisture and organic matter, which helps them thrive. Morels also commonly grow in places that have recently had a wildfire because the fire clears large portions of soil, giving the morels lots of space to grow. 

There are also certain trees that morels seem to prefer growing near:

  • Sycamore
  • Hickory
  • Ash
  • Elm
  • Fruit trees such as apple trees

It’s unclear why some species of trees attach morels while others don’t. The theory is that there is something about the trees’ root system that makes morels grow better. 

Do morels and false morels grow together? 

Yes, you can find both true and false morels growing in the same area, and both tend to grow during the late spring. However, false morels can also grow during the summer and early fall, separating them slightly from true ones. 

Can you touch morels?

Morels themselves are safe to pick up, but if you’re unsure whether you are genuinely looking t a morel or some other mushroom, it’s best not to touch it. Some mushrooms are poisonous to the touch, so avoid coming into contact with unknown mushrooms whenever in doubt. 

Do you eat the stems of morels?

The stems of morels are entirely edible and safe to eat. However, they tend not to be eaten and are usually cut off of the morels because they are likely to be dirt and gritty, so it became an industry standard to cut the stems off before selling or eating. 

Are morels poisonous to dogs? 

True morels may harm your dog if they eat them or eat a large amount of them, causing symptoms like vomiting, weakness, stomach pains, and lack of muscle coordination. 

While eating morels is unlikely to cause any severe symptoms or death, it can be challenging to know whether your dog is eating a true morel or a false morel, so it’s best to avoid your dog getting into any wild mushrooms. 

What animals eat morels?

There are a few animals that enjoy eating morels just as much as humans do.

  • (mule) Deer
  • Elk
  • Grey Squirrels

When morel season comes along, it’s always a battle to see who will get to the tasty mushrooms first.

What state grows the most morels?

Morels tend to start growing in the Southern states and work their way north. Morels are abundant from the middle of Tennessee into Michigan, Wisconsin and Vermont and even as far as Oklahoma. Morels grow best in warm and damp environments, so they prefer areas where they can find these conditions for the spring months.