Morels are a delicious and often sought after mushroom that can be found in many states across the US. They grow during spring, summer, and fall seasons and are most commonly spotted near trees or on forest floors. In this article we’ll layout which states they grow in and how you can maximize your harvest by starting south and moving north.
What States Do Morel Mushrooms Grow In?
These fungi grow in certain areas of the country starting early in the year and then progress into other areas as the summer months start to lengthen the growing season. Morels begin to appear in March in much of the central southeastern states, which include Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
By the end of the month, you start to see them growing more widely through wooded areas in the Carolinas as well as Kentucky and Indiana. Many people have reported morels growing through northern California, Oregon and coastal Washington starting in late March or early April.
By May, Missouri, Illinois and much of the Midwest plays host to many pockets of morels in old-growth forests. Around this time, northern Michigan becomes one of the most popular places to collect them, but you can find them throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland and the whole Eastern Seaboard as the month drags on.
Some reports will even start to pop up in Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota. While morel hunting is harder in these states, there’s less competition thus making it attractive for locals.
Time of Year They Start in Each State
Depending on temperatures and the amount of rainfall, morel season can start at the beginning of the year. For the majority of the country, however, the season will run from early April through the middle of June.
- Coastal California
- Northern California
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
- South Dakota
- New Mexico
- New York
States that have morel blooms early on will continue to have them throughout the entire season if the weather holds up. For example, you can find morels in eastern California starting in February but a few people have reported finding them as late as Independence Day.
How to Extend Morel Hunting Season by Starting in Southern States and Moving North
Start early in the year so that you can take advantage of some of the early blooms. In some of the more mountainous regions of Alabama and Georgia, you can find morels as early as March 1 so you want to be sure that you get a jump on it.
A number of morel blooms will start to move northward from them, so later in the month you might want to focus on Tennessee and then Kentucky before checking grassy areas in states north of that.
Tips for Hunting Morels in New England
New England states will usually start to have morel blooms in March, but they can last until the end of the season, so don’t give up no matter how late you might have started. Rainy periods will usually cause bigger blooms to occur, so you might want to follow weather patterns, but too much rain will drown them.
Tips for Hunting Morels in the South
Follow riverbeds and the bends of running water throughout the Deep South into the mid-Atlantic states. While you might be in for quite a bit of competition, especially early in the month, this can help you to find some dirt-lying morels that might otherwise get picked over.
Though you might find a number of morels growing in abandoned fruit orchards in these states, these could potentially accumulate a poison called lead arsenate. This was once used as an insecticide in the most humid parts of the country.
Tips for Hunting Morels in the Midwest
Fields in Michigan and, to a lesser extent, Indiana provide some of the most spectacular morels in the country. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to locate one of these, but don’t forget about smaller fungi you can find in other areas.
Even experienced morel hunters will sometimes pass these by while looking for bigger crops, so try picking in low-lying valleys in places that other hunters have already been through.
Tips for Hunting Morels in the Pacific Northwest
Cling to the coastal areas, because you usually stop seeing significant morel growth a few hundred miles inland. Coastal rain forests can play host to some of the largest morels seen in this area, and you’re allowed to collect them as long as you’re not in a protected area.
While you’re still want to check with local authorities, you may be surprised to find how many places allow you the freedom to pick. Some areas might provide a chart to help interested parties avoid protected areas.
Tips for Hunting Morels in the Arid West
Most states you might think are arid have entire regions that receive a significant amount of rainfall. Avoid any of these that have received an amount considerably above average as well as those suffering from droughts.
Focus your attentions instead on areas that are right on target, since these will usually have the greatest morel yields.
Tips for Hunting Morels in the Southwest
Some areas of southern California and Arizona are known for their Mediterranean-like climate. Focusing on these places can help to dramatically increase your chances of finding sizable morels, but you have to keep in mind that anywhere that’s too sunny isn’t going to produce good fungus.
Keep a sharp eye out for significant plant growth or rocky overhangs that would help to shade morels, since these can help to shelter them even when the temperature starts to rise.