Morel (Ft. Morille), the common name for morcliella esculenta, an edible fungus found in Europe, Asia, and North America. It grows in orchards, woods, and damp pastures, preferring a heavy argillaceous soil to a sandy one, and is especially frequent on burnt soil or where cinders have been deposited. It is usually about 4 in. high, with a white, cylindrical, smooth stem; the pileus or cap is nearly spherical, sometimes elongated, and adheres to the stem by its base; its surface is covered with a network of ribs which run together irregularly and give the cap the appearance of being pitted over its whole surface; its color is a pale buff. Morels appear in spring and early summer, and though they are less generally known than the mushroom, they are by some more highly prized. They are used in cookery for flavoring ragouts, gravies, etc, and are also eaten stewed in the same manner as mushrooms. They are found on rare occasions in the New York markets, and in England, where they are much better known, they are seldom offered for sale fresh. Unlike the mushroom, the morel preserves its flavor when dried, and in that state it is an article of commerce.
The chief supply is from Germany; and as the plants are found most abundantly upon charred soil, it was the custom of the peasants to encourage their growth by setting fire to the woods, a practice now prohibited by law. There are several other species of morchella in this country and Europe, all of which, according to some authors, are edible, while Berkeley says that M. semilibera is of doubtful reputation. There is no record in the principal European horticultural works of any attempts to cultivate this fungus, but it would not be difficult to imitate the conditions under which it grows naturally.
Morel (Morchella esculenta).