June 12, 2009
The photo above showing a pair of delectable morel mushrooms was taken in northwestern Illinois, near the Mississippi River, on May 14, 2009. They were destined to be morsels of morel. These edible mushrooms are hunted by thousands of people wherever they grow. They’re sometimes referred to as hickory chickens, merkels and sponge mushrooms. The genus name is Morchella, from the German word "morchel." Morels are related to cup fungi, which are anatomically simpler. Once found, the spots where they’re particularly bountiful are carefully watched over, as they're not only a prize for the palate but sometimes a cash crop too. On this spring day, I harvested a little more than two pounds (0.9 kg) of these savory mushrooms.