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How to Distinguish a Real Morel Mushroom from a False Morel

If you look closely at a morel mushroom, and pay attention to just a few characteristics, there is absolutely no mistaking a false (poisonous) morel for a real morel.

First, take a good look at the following picture.  These are REAL morels. Notice that the caps of real morel mushrooms are deeply PITTED.  Most false morels, on the other hand will be more crinkly (like brains) than pitted.


Perhaps the MOST distinguishing feature of a real morel mushroom, is the distinctive way that the cap is connected to the stem. When in doubt, slice the mushroom in half lengthwise from the spongy cap all the way through to the bottom of the stem. If it is a real morel mushroom, the stem will be completely hollow AND most importantly, the cap is ATTACHED to the stem in one piece.  See the following picture for what a REAL morel looks like when sliced open:

Cross Section of a Real Morel Mushroom
Now contrast the above photographs with a false morel below.  Note that the cap is more crinkly than it is pitted (like a crumpled up piece of paper, or a small brain); and notice that difference in how the cap is attached to the stem.  In a false morel, the cap overhangs the stem, but in a real morel, the cap and the stem are all one piece.

False Early Morel