May Apples And Morels

Are you a new morel hunter? Wondering about may apples and morels? Do they really grow more often under mayapples?

In this article we’ll cover ever tip and trick we know for finding more morels around mayapples.

Do Morels Grow Under Mayapples?

Yes and no. Mayapples were traditionally used to know when to start hunting morels in the spring. When Mayapples start to sprout from the soil it’s a good time to hunt for morels.

“Hunt morels when you see the May apples open.”

– Anonymous

Avid morel hunters don’t recommend seeking mayapple patches explicitly as a way to find more morels.

Still, if you don’t have a soil thermometer with you mayapples are a great indicator of morel season.

Mayapples sprout before the first trees get their leaves in the spring. They go dormant in early summer. Keeping to mayapple season is the best way to stick to morel season and avoid false morels in the off-season.

What Is A Mayapple?

Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) are also known as American mandrake, wild mandrake, and ground lemon.

They grow in forests in colonies from a single root spreading through a creeping rhizome (horizontal underground stem). They sprout large palm-life leaves about 40 cm off the forest floor.

It’s quite fun to find these patches. I used to live in Virginia and running across these patches always made me envision mini-fairy forests as a kid.

Even though they’re called ground lemon do note that all parts of the plant are poisonous. The ripe fruit when yellow can be eaten in small quantities and doesn’t contain the toxin (podophyllotoxin) in large amounts if you remove the seeds.

See the video below for an example of what mayapple patches look like and finding morels in them.

Video – How to find Big Morels Under Mayapples

Where Do Mayapples Grow?

Mayapples grow in the forest understory on the eastern side of the United States. Their range starts in Southeast Canada and extends down to the southeastern U.S.

15 Tips And Tricks For Finding Morels By Mayapples

As stated above, mayapples don’t guarantee morels. They do help keep you hunting in the right time of year. Plus they denote cool, moist soils.

Use the following tips to find more morels using mayapples to help you:

1. Elm, Oak, Ash, and Poplar Trees – If you find a mayapple patch under an elm, oak, ash, or poplar you have a better chance of finding morels.

2. Next to Ferns and Fiddleheads

3. Under Pine Trees

4. Under Wild Abandoned Orchards

5. Near Dying Trees Without Leaves

6. In forests on South-facing Hillsides – Look here in early spring. Mayapples sprouting will confirm the temperature in the soil is also right for morels.

7. In Forests with Loamy Soil – Most mayapples pretty much require this. They prefer cool, moist loamy soil over dry hard clays.

8. Yards Next to Streams and Creeks

9. Recently Flooded Areas

10. Mayapple Patches in High Ground Next to Swamps

11. Tire Tracks Running Through Mayapple Patches after a Rain

12. Patches near Gravel and Dirt Roads Near Pine Trees

13. New Mayapple Patches in Burn Sites After 1-2 Years

15. Patches in Tree Thinning Areas After 1-2 Years