What You Should Know
Morchella tomentosa is a species of fungus in the family Morchellaceae. It is identified by its post-fire occurrence, fine hairs on the surface of young fruit bodies, and a thick, "double-walled" stem. It also has unique sclerotia-like underground parts. Color can range from black and "sooty" to gray, brown, yellow, or white, although color tends to progress from darker to lighter with age of the fruiting body. Three other wildfire-adapted morels were described from western North America in 2012: M. capitata, M. septimelata, and M. sextelata. None of these three new species share the hairy surface texture of M. tomentosa.
Thus, while young, black specimens are unmistakable, older specimens can look like several other types of morels, and are best identified with a microscope; even after the tiny hairs have lost their pigment to the naked eye, they are still plentiful and brown-pigmented when viewed in a potassium hydroxide mount.
Based on studies of DNA, M. tomentosa is a distinct species apart from the yellow morels (M. esculenta & ssp.) and black morels (M. elata & ssp.). Mushroom collectors also use the common name "gray morel" for M. esculenta-type morels in eastern North America.
Morchella atrotomentosa McKnight (1987) is a synonym.
Other names: Gray Morel, Fuzzy Foot, Black Foot Morel.
Morchella tomentosa Mushroom Identification
Possibly saprobic and mycorrhizal at different points in its life cycle; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously in burned conifer forests, primarily in the spring following the fire (but sometimes appearing in dwindling numbers for a few years thereafter); usually appearing at high elevation; spring (accounting for elevation); Colorado to northern California and Alaska.
3-11 cm tall and 2-5 cm wide; egg-shaped or nearly conical; pitted and ridged, with the pits and ridges typically densely packed when young, stretching with maturity and developing vertical orientation; when young with gray to nearly black ridges and pits that are densely fuzzy; when mature often developing grayish, pale tan, yellowish, or even whitish pits and ridges; completely attached to the stem; hollow.
2-6 cm high and 1-4 cm wide; often swollen at the base; when young dark gray to nearly black, and densely fuzzy; with age becoming pale (whitish to yellowish or grayish), usually with stretched-out brownish patches of remaining fuzz; hollow.
Spores 18-20 x 8-12 µ; smooth; elliptical; without oil droplets; contents homogeneous. Asci 8-spored. Paraphyses cylindric to subclavate, with rounded or subacute apices; septate 2-5 times; hyaline or brownish in KOH. Hairs on sterile ridges and stem surface abundant; variable in shape; to 275 x 17 µ; with brown walls in KOH.
Photo 1 - Author: Tatiana Bulyonkova (ressaure) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: Vlad Lekach (laddycans) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 3 - Author: Matt Bowser (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International)
Photo 4 - Author: Tatiana Bulyonkova (ressaure) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 5 - Author: Tatiana Bulyonkova (ressaure) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Shape: True Morels
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