Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible mushrooms closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi. These distinctive mushrooms appear honeycomb-like in that the upper portion is composed of a network of ridges with pits between them.
Description: Liquid Culture. Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible mushrooms closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi. These distinctive mushrooms appear honeycomb-like in that the upper portion is composed of a network of ridges with pits between them. The habitats where these mushrooms are found include young poplar (aspen) forests and ash woods for the black morels. These are a more difficult mushroom to produce and require outdoor beds for any degree of success.
Typified by Morchella esculenta in 1794, the genus has been the source of considerable taxonomical controversy throughout the years, mostly with regard to the number of species involved, with some mycologists recognising as few as three species and others over thirty. Current molecular phylogenetics suggest there might be over seventy species of Morchella worldwide, most of them exhibiting high continental endemism and provincialism.
Early phylogenetic analyses supported the hypothesis that the genus comprises only a few species with considerable phenotypic variation. Subsequent multigenic DNA studies, however, have revealed more than a dozen genealogically distinct species in North America and at least as many in Europe. DNA studies revealed three discrete clades, or genetic groups, consisting of the “white morels” (Morchella rufobrunnea and Morchella anatolica), the “yellow morels” (Morchella esculenta and others), and the “black morels” (Morchella elata and others). The fire-associated species Morchella tomentosa, commonly known as the “gray morel”, is distinct for its fine hairs on the cap ridges and unique sclerotia-like underground structures, and may also deserve its own clade based on DNA evidence. Within the yellow and black clades, there are dozens of distinct species, most endemic to individual continents or regions. This species-rich view is supported by studies in Western Europe, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, China, Patagonia and the Himalaya