False Morel

(Gyromitra esculenta)

Conservation Status
False Morel
Photo by Luciearl
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure


not listed


False Morel is a common early mushroom in the forests of northern Unites States and Canada. It is found in the spring and early summer alone, scattered, or in groups, on the ground under coniferous or hardwood trees. It is saprobic, obtaining nutrients from rotting wood, and might also be mycorrhizal, having a mutually beneficial relationship with the tiny rootlets of trees. It may exhibit both traits at different parts of its life cycle.

The cap is sometimes cup-shaped and nearly smooth when it first appears, soon becoming lobed or saddle-shaped and becoming wrinkled when still young. Mature caps are 1½ to 3tall and 1¼ to 4¾ wide, hollow or chambered, and intricately wrinkled, brain-like. It is not pitted. The surface color is regionally variable, reddish-, purplish- or yellowish-brown, dark brown, or brown. The cap is usually attached at several points to the stalk.

The stalk is ¾ to 4tall, and to 1 in diameter. It is rounded or figure 8 in cross section, and yellowish or tinged a color similar to but paler than the cap. It may be grooved but it is not ribbed.

The flesh is thin, brittle, and whitish. It is poisonous.


Similar Species

Habitat and Hosts

Deciduous and coniferous forests




Spring or early summer


Distribution Map



4, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.




Widespread. Locally common.

  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Phylum Ascomycota (sac fungi)  
  Subphylum Pezizomycotina  
  Class Pezizomycetes  
  Subclass Pezizomycetidae  






  Subgenus Gyromitra  



Gyromitra esculenta var. alba

Gyromitra esculenta var. aurantiaca

Gyromitra esculenta var. crispa

Gyromitra esculenta var. fragilis

Gyromitra esculenta var. fulva

Helvella esculenta


Common Names


Brain Mushroom

False Morel










A symbiotic, usually beneficial relationship between a fungus and the tiny rootlets of a plant, usually a tree.



A term often used for saprotrophic fungi. Referring to fungi that obtain their nutrients from decayed organic matter.




Morel mushrooms (Morchella spp.) are some of the best known and most sought after wild mushrooms in North America. They are particularly abundant in the upper Midwest. They are edible, considered delicious, and are hunted for in deciduous woodlands every spring. False morels (Gyromitra spp.) look superficially similar and appear at the same time of year in roughly the same areas. However, false morels are poisonous. They contain the chemical gyromitrin, which is metabolized in the body into a volatile chemical used as a rocket propellant.

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    False Morel   False Morel  


    False Morel   False Morel  
    False Morel   False Morel  
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Other Videos
  Gyromitra Esculenta ( The Beefsteak )
Jack Skrceny

Published on Mar 21, 2007

A short description of Gyromitra Esculenta, another false Morel.This mushroom is still being eaten by some people that think it's safe. It's not!

  False Morel Mushrooms - Gyromitra esculenta (Sac Fungi) 2014 updated
The Roaming Gnome...Glenn Munro! VRCM/SkyWarn

Published on Aug 24, 2016

Glenn Munro and his foraging...cousin Jason Clark... are on the prowl, for Morels. How ever they find...a red head fungus... that looks like a big ol ball of bark. Its an imposter.

WARNING - Do not eat these!


  Morel vs False Morel ~ Some Identifying tips

Published on May 5, 2011

There are a few different species of false morel. The one in this video, Gyromitra esculenta is a little easier to ID than the species Verpa Bohemica, which can look almost identical to true morels, especially to the eager morel seeker.

Be sure to check all your morels carefully.

  057 RSW The Difference Between a Real Morel Mushroom and a False Morel
Rosa String Works

Published on Apr 10, 2015

Here's a look at a "false" Morel compared to a real Morel mushroom. Some people eat both kinds. But some people get sick eating the false morel (also called the "Big Reds") by some people. Eating mushrooms that are NOT KNOWN to be SAFE can be fatal!

  False Morels: My Thoughts
Wild 4 the Outdoors TV

Published on Apr 25, 2014

T-Mac finds some false Morels (beefsteak) mushrooms: WARNING Mushrooms when consumed can kill you if not identified correctly.




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Location: Fairview Twp., Cass County

False Morel  

Location: Cass County

False Morel  

Location: Fairview Township, MN

False Morel  
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Created: 3/8/2018

Last Updated:

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