What You Should Know
Morchella semilibera is an edible species of fungus in the family Morchellaceae native to Europe and Asia. The conical brownish cap appears to sit as if placed on top of a sturdy cream-colored stem. The lower part of the cap is not attached to the stem as it is in the Common Morel, hence the name ‘Semi-free Morel’.
This morels decompose dead or dying organic matter. The cap is honeycomb-like with brownish-black ridges and yellowish pits. The bottom half of the cap hangs free from the whitish stalk that is completely hollow.
It is a very variable species, and specimens with a large head could easily be mistaken for Morchella elata. However, cutting the fungus in half will show that the lower part of the cap is free from the stem, hence the name.
Not as good a find as a true Morel, but a tasty find none the less. Must be cooked before consumption.
In 2012, Morchella populiphila was described from western North America, while Peck's 1903 species name Morchella punctipes was reaffirmed for eastern North American half-free morels. M. semilibera and the other half-free morels are closely related to the black morels (M. elata and others).
Other names: Half-Free Morel.
Morchella semilibera Mushroom Identification
20-50 mm high, 28-45 mm in diameter. Conical and hollow with a random honeycomb effect where the background is brown and the ridges dark to black. The cap edge hangs free from about halfway down, hence semi-free, unlike other Morels where the cap edge joins the stem.
40-90 mm high, 20-40 mm thick. White to off white, hollow through to the cap and usually with wide striations running vertically. Whitish in young fruiting bodies, then creamy or yellowish. It has whitish small scales that cover the entire surface.
Thin and white inside. In young fruit bodies, it is fragile and brittle, then slightly elastic, without a pronounced taste, with an unpleasant odor.
Damp woodland and copses.
Cream to pale yellow.
Morchella semilibera Possible Confusion
The false morel, Gyromitra esculenta, but this is more lobed or brain-like rather than pitted and honeycomb like cap of the morel.
Morchella semilibera Synonyms
Mitrophora semilibera (DC.) Lév., Annls Sci. Nat., Bot., sér. 3 5: 249 (1846) f. semilibera
Morilla semilibera (DC.) Quél., Enchir. fung. (Paris): 271 (1886)
Morchella patula var. semilibera (DC.) S. Imai, Sci. Rep. Yokohama Natl. Univ., Sect. 2 3: 15 (1954)
Photo 1 - Author: Bojanicka (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 2 - Author: Abaddon1337 (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 3 - Author: JanB46 (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 4 - Author: Cros jean pierre (Public Domain)