Good article to read for the morel mushroom hunters.


Established Member
Founding Member
Apr 22, 2015
Glenburn, ND
'Rocket fuel' toxin from poison mushrooms sickens 10 in Michigan

The tell-tale signs of false morel, Verpa bohemica, above, are the attachment of the cap to the stalk at the top of the cap, and the cottony material in the stem. True morels are hollow, said Chris Wright, Midwest America Mycological Information.

Five people in the same West Michigan family got sick from eating what they thought were morel mushrooms last week, bringing the total so far this season to 10, poison control records show.

The toxin produced by false morels is "basically rocket fuel," said Dr. Cynthia Aaron, medical director of the poison center in Detroit. It can cause liver damage and seizures.
Of those poisoned in Michigan so far this year, most just had to drink water and wait out the nausea and diarrhea of the unpleasant experience, Aaron said.
Three or four of them, though, required hospitalizations.
"The season is just starting," she said.
By the time the 2014 morel season ended, 46 people had been poisoned, all by eating what they thought were safe morels, Aaron said. Those who are poisoned by ingesting other mushrooms are tallied separately.
So far, poisonings have been reported in Macomb, Oakland, Lapeer, Kent, Hillsdale and Allegan counties, she said, and none this year has resulted in permanent damage or death.
That's always a possibility, she said, with the very young and very old most likely to suffer severe problems if they ingest false morels, she said.
False morels create a toxin, monomethylhydrazine, the volative chemical that's used as rocket fuel.

True morels, such as Morchella esculentoides, are hollow, with a cap attached at the bottom, said Chris Wright, Midwest American Mycological Information.

Ingested, the chemical affects the liver and central nervous system. Eat a little, and you suffer vomiting and diarrhea, but if you eat enough "you can die from continued seizures," Aaron said. "You can get pretty sick."
In addition to the problems caused by morel look-alikes, some people develop an allergy-like reaction to even true morels after years of eating them with no issues. "If you have a reaction, it doesn't go away," Aaron said. "It will get worse."
In an effort to head off mushroom accidents, Michigan State University Extension educator Michelle Jarvie published a paper on Michigan wild mushroom safety on the MSU Extension website last month reminding foragers that of the 2,500 large, fleshy mushroom species in Michigan, only 60-100 of them are generally regarded as safe to eat.
Even mushrooms that are well tolerated by most people most of the time can make some people sick -- if they are sensitive, or if the mushroom wasn't prepared properly or was eaten raw, she warns in the report.
Levels of toxicity in Michigan mushrooms range from "deadly poisonous," to "occasional gastric distress," Jarvie wrote.
Here's an excerpt from the publication:
"Several of the deadly species, especially those in the Amanita family, are extremely dangerous because symptoms don't develop until six to 36 hours after ingestion, which is too late for the only antidote – a stomach pump. Another poisonous mushroom to be aware of this spring is the false morel, or beefsteak mushroom (Gyromitra esculenta). It is commonly mistaken for a true morel, and can have deadly results."
Jarvie said foragers would be smart to never eat any morel unless they are absolutely positive of its identification and to cook all mushrooms thoroughly.
Aaron said it is fairly easy to distinguish between true morels and false morels:
In true morels the caps are pitted, and when cut in half true morels have thin walls and are hollow inside. The connection of cap to wall will be at the bottom, she said.
The caps of false morels have brain-like waves rather than pits, and the mushroom has thick walls, with the cap connected high inside. It is not hollow.
Aaron said the safest way to forage for mushrooms is with true experts, on hunts organized by the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club.
"They organize mushroom hunts, and picking with with them is the safest way to do it," she said.


Honored Member
Founding Member
Apr 16, 2015
Lamoure ND
I wish I could find some might have to head out after work one day this week and see if I can get lucky. I have never had them but heard they are really good.


★★★★★ Legendary Member
Founding Member
Apr 21, 2015
Faaargo, ND
BTW... Careful with alcohol when first trying wild shrooms, especially red wine! Bro in law enjoyed some morels we gave him. After a few meals he ate them w red wine and spent the night rupturing blood vessels in his eyes while hugging the toilet. He swears I did it on purpose. He he he.

It happened to me once with shaggy manes (a fall mushroom). Not a dozen times before and not a dozen times since. Strange stuff.
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