Morchella and mykorrhiza

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Mon Dec 7 10:05:48 EST 1998

In article <014c143480603c8UPSMOT06 at>,
  "Scott Mcphee" <hyphae at> wrote:
> I think what you have mentioned about scaring them into fruiting is very
> reasonable, and quite likely, but:
Many morel species are known to associate with soil disturbance such as road
building, pre-commercial thinning, clearcutting, and volcanic eruptions.

> I have to wonder about the rumored occurance of Morels growing in barbeques.
> And their cultivation in trays at Morel Mountain?

How about morels fruiting in basement coal bins? There seems to be a
correlating factor here: a concentrated carbon source. That can be charcoal,
coal, wood, or compost piles. I have also heard of morels fruiting from
cardboard boxes that were discarded outside, only to have morels grow from
them the next year.

> On my father's property in SW Oregon, black morels (elata group) grow in
> spots where huge slash piles were burned the previous spring. These are
> intense fires that can last several days. I would doubt that anything could
> survive under them. I know that morels form underground sclerotia that could
> survive a light burn, but could they survive an intense prolonged fire right
> on top of them?

Probably not. But debris burns would probably kill any sclerotia within 3-6
inches directly underneath. So the question goes begging: how deep do
sclerotia form? I've not seen morels arrising from deeper sclerotia, so
suspect most sclerotia are near the surface. The only remaining option then
is that the sclerotia formed _after_ the fires. Since morel mycelium can
cross a 3.5" Petri dish in 24 hours, this scenario seems a working

I suspect that nature has favored morel mycelium with being more tolerant of
the carbon-rich environment after cool fires, and the acidic conditions found
immediately thereafter. They may also be drawn to concentrations of potash
left by fires.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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