Hunting for valuable morel mushrooms - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hunting for valuable morel mushrooms


The hunt is on for morel mushrooms, which are now growing in Eastern Iowa. With a value of at least $30 to $40 dollars per pound, the search may be well worth someone's time.

Morel expert Chris Matherly passed through Dubuque Thursday afternoon on his way to give a talk on the mushroom at the Bluegill Cafe in McGregor.

"The morel is the best-tasting, unique flavor, and people just go crazy for them," Matherly said. "It's like adult Easter egg hunting. It's so exciting to find that motherload. You know, it could be over the next hill."

He searches for the spongy-looking mushrooms and said when they get to a golden yellow, they've hit their peak. In Iowa, the morels grow all through May.

There's a trick to hunting the mushrooms here in Iowa.

"Looking for dead elm trees," Matherly said. "When an elm tree gets the Dutch elm disease and it dies the prior year, the next year after that, there'll be a flush of morels around most every tree that just died the year before."

That, however, is no guarantee. Matherly said morels need the right mix of conditions to grow, including moisture, temperature and sunlight.

"You want to go to a south-facing slope because it's getting more sun and it's warming up quicker," he said.

Finally, after searching the bases of several trees Thursday afternoon without any luck, Matherly had a breakthrough.

"Over here we got two nice morels coming up at the base of this elm tree," he said, poking the base of the elm tree with his wooden walking stick, topped by a carved morel mushroom.

He is on the road for about half of the year, giving guided hunts and cooking demonstrations.

"Wouldn't rather be doing anything else," Matherly said.

To follow Matherly's progress or join a hunt, see his Website by clicking HERE or accessing the link on the left of this page.

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