May Apple Plant and Morels: A Guide to Mushroom Hunting

Mushrooms are a fascinating variety of wild woodland plants that provide not only great visuals but also delectable flavors. 

Among the most popular species of wild mushrooms are the morel mushroom and the may apple plant. Mushroom hunting for these and other species has become a popular outdoor activity for nature enthusiasts. 

What are Morel Mushrooms?

May Apple Plant and Morels

Characteristics of Morel Mushrooms

The morel mushroom is a hardwood forest fungus with a cone-shaped cap that is honeycombed and wrinkled. 

It has a hollow stem and can range from a light creamy color to almost black. To ensure you get the right species for your cooking, look for a conical cap that is deeply pitted and attached to the stem at the bottom.

Where to Find Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushrooms grow in hardwood forests and might be hidden beneath dead or dying elm trees, around ash trees, and in areas with rich soil or undisturbed wood debris. 

These mushrooms grow in moist soil, particularly in sloping areas. One indication of morel mushroom growth is the presence of mayapple plants, which are their natural companion, and tulip trees, which serve as their indicators.

When to Hunt for Morel Mushrooms

The ideal time to hunt for morel mushrooms is during the springtime when the temperature outdoors is steadily increasing. 

When the temperature reaches between 50℉ to 60℉, you’re likely to find morels. As the soil warms up, morel mushrooms will start to spread, so be sure to start hunting at that time regularly.

How to Identify May Apple Plants

May Apple Plant and Morels
May Apple Plant and Morels

Characteristics of May Apple Plants

The May Apple, also known as Podophyllum Peltatum, is a woodland plant growing to about 18 to 24 inches tall. It has umbrella-like leaves and a white flower that blooms from April to May. 

The fruit or “pod” is about the size of an egg and is edible only when ripe and yellow. To identify, check for two leaves with one flower and one fruit growing between them.

Where to Find May Apple Plants

Mayapple plants grow in shaded and moist woodland areas and orchards. It is also easy to spot them along roadsides and in the fields adjacent to woodlands. 

Old apple orchards and apple tree plantations provide an excellent habitat for mayapple plants.

When May Apple Plants Bloom

Mayapple plants bloom from April to May, so this is the best time to hunt for them. 

When you find one mayapple plant, you’re likely to find an entire patch of them since they have rhizome seed pods that grow horizontally underground, producing more and more plants.

What to Bring for Mushroom Hunting

Essential Tools for Mushroom Hunting

The essential tools you’ll need for mushroom hunting include a small knife for harvesting, a basket or container to carry your fresh mushrooms, and a field guide for correct identification. 

You can also wear a mushroom hunting belt with a holster to easily carry your tools when you’re out in the field.

Safety Precautions for Mushroom Hunting

Mushroom hunting, like any outdoor activity, comes with inherent hazards. It is crucial to ensure your safety by wearing appropriate clothing, including sturdy shoes and long-sleeved shirts, which protect you from cuts and scrapes. 

Bring along a first aid kit, insect repellent, and drinking water to prevent dehydration. Additionally, you should always be aware of your surroundings, especially in unfamiliar woods.

Proper Clothing for Mushroom Hunting

The ideal clothing for mushroom hunting includes comfortable clothes that shield your skin from thorns and ticks. 

Choose garments with earthy colors that blend in with nature, such as olive greens, tans, and browns. 

A hat provides shade and an extra layer of clothing on your head area, and gloves are essential in protecting your hands from injuries and thorns.

Mushroom Hunting Tips for Beginners

May Apple Plant and Morels

Choosing the Right Location for Mushroom Hunting

The right place for mushroom hunting changes depending on the current season and weather conditions. 

Check for ideal locations, hardwood forests, and areas with undisturbed wood debris. Look out for signs of mushroom growth and gather data from mushroom hunters’ forums to identify ideal hunting areas.

Identifying Mushrooms in the Wild

Identifying mushrooms in the wild can be challenging, but you can learn from online resources or personal research.

A reliable field guide can provide all the essential information needed to know the difference between poisonous mushrooms and edible varieties. 

Joining groups or communities of experienced mushroom hunters also helps you learn how to identify different species and avoid mistakes while hunting.

How to Properly Harvest Mushrooms

Once you’ve identified the mushroom species you want to harvest, use a small knife to cut the stem and avoid picking up the entire mushroom, including its spores. 

This ensures the propagation of the species in the area and protects the environment from depletion.

The Importance of Preservation in Mushroom Hunting

Why Preservation of Wild Mushrooms is Important

The importance of mushroom preservation cannot be overstated. By preserving wild mushrooms, we can help sustain their populations and prevent over-harvesting, which can lead to depletion. 

Moreover, some species, like morel mushrooms, can only be foraged and not cultivated, which means their survival depends on our conservation efforts.

Methods of Preserving Morel Mushrooms

The best way to preserve morel mushrooms is to dehydrate them using a dehydrator or an oven. 

Drying morels extend their shelf life, and it makes them easier to store and transport. To rehydrate a morel, soak it in lukewarm water for an hour before cooking.

Methods of Preserving May Apple Plants

The may apple plant has medicinal properties and is also edible when the fruit is ripe. 

To preserve may apple plants, separate the fruit from the leaves and seeds and store the fruits in a cool, dry place. 

Avoid eating unripe fruits, as it can cause stomach upset. The leaves and seeds should not be consumed, as they are mildly toxic.


Mushroom hunting can be an exciting and rewarding activity for those who enjoy spending time outdoors. 

With the right tools, clothing, and knowledge, you can find tons of delectable wild mushrooms like morels and learn to identify the may apple plant. Remember to exercise caution and preserve the environment for future generations of mushroom hunters to come.

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