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Hello fellow mycologists!

After about six years, here’s what I’ve learned about morels in Texas, and specificallly Bosque County:

1) I’m about 90% certain there’s a perfect correlation between bluebonnets blossoming and morel growth. In 2021, I’m gonna hunt about a week after I see my first bluebonnet.

2) As most Texans did / still do, I grew up mis-referencing Ashe Junipers as “cedars.” They AIN’T cedars, and I know that. Irregardless [sic], I’m gonna call ‘em cedars in this post.

3) A few days after you see your first bluebonnet, hit the woods. You’re looking for cedars (!) BUT LIVE OAKS NEED TO BE NEARBY / INTERSPERSED IN THE CEDARS. Don’t ask me why: the vast majority of morels I’ve found have been within a cedar drip line, but with live oak leaves on the ground.

4) You’re looking for dappled sunlight and ground cover that’s not overly thick. I haven’t been successful in a dense cedar thicket, deep in cedar needles and no sunlight.

This year I found about two dry gallons’ worth before I ran out of time and water. I went on March 25, and I think I was about 10 days late
 

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This post isn't directed at you, Bosque Booger, but at the newbies who get frustrated at not finding ANY morels when they hunt. (You, clearly, are an established forager.)

2) As most Texans did / still do, I grew up mis-referencing Ashe Junipers as “cedars.” They AIN’T cedars, and I know that. Irregardless [sic], I’m gonna call ‘em cedars in this post.
Indeed, this is my biggest pet peeve about our collective community. There are NO native cedars in our part of the country. Even "Eastern Redcedar" is a juniper tree. "Mountain cedar" pollen is juniper pollen. (Consequently, the berries produced by our juniper trees every 2 years are actual juniper berries, the kind you'd pay $20/lb for dried in the gourmet market, and I use them to make gin.)

3)You’re looking for cedars (!) BUT LIVE OAKS NEED TO BE NEARBY / INTERSPERSED IN THE CEDARS. Don’t ask me why: the vast majority of morels I’ve found have been within a cedar drip line, but with live oak leaves on the ground.
My mileage differs (more on individual forager's "patterns" at the end), I have my best luck with NO broadleaf leaves on the ground at all. After so many years of patterns of leaves on the ground, when I'm in Central Texas, if I start to see oak leaves on the ground, I turn and walk the other way. Particularly live oak leaves! How interesting is that??

4) You’re looking for dappled sunlight and ground cover that’s not overly thick. I haven’t been successful in a dense cedar thicket, deep in cedar needles and no sunlight.
I have luck in BOTH dappled light areas AND in dense juniper thickets. One of my best areas in Hill County is a hands-and-knees crawl for several hundred feet, pure juniper thicket but fairly young growth, no other trees around, with an inch of juniper needles on the ground, and practically no sunlight hitting the ground. Despite this, it's an "early" area that produces BEFORE most of my other spots, and often when I get there, I'm a week or two late. Which is unusual, as these dark, cold areas usually produce at the very end of a rainy, warm season.

However, my best areas for big clusters are around the fringe of well-lit openings in the canopy or clearings, where morels fruit in the zone where the grass from the clearing meets the juniper duff along the treeline, and sometimes I'll find a cluster of 8 or more morels in this type of area.

This just goes to show that morels fruit EVERYWHERE, and each forager develops his or her own pattern of where to look, building upon previous experience. My friend in Oklahoma (arguably the most successful morel forager in the state) pretty much sticks to zones where flat areas begin to rise, but has a dozen or so "morel patterns" that combine tree types, density of growth, etc. Hunting with him is fascinating, because he'll specifically be interested in an area that I'd immediately ignore, and he'll go there and find morels, when I wouldn't have even given the area a first look.

Michael Kuo, author of the most comprehensive morel book published, says he NEVER hunts floodlands along rivers and creeks. That's exactly where I hunt in Arkansas, and often find pounds and pounds. (The cluster in my profile photo is from a floodplain along the Buffalo River.) There are many foragers who ONLY hunt along creeks and rivers, and wouldn't think of hunting a hilltop. I have a friend in southern Missouri who swears morels NEVER grow along creeks or canyon slopes and he ONLY hunts hilltops.

The lesson for anyone else reading this is...if you're new to foraging, don't think that you'll ONLY find morels where other people are finding them. Your best bet is to hunt WHEN others are reporting finds, and start out by setting a steady pace through the forest and keeping your eyes open for the right trees. (Which, in Central Texas, pretty much means you can ignore the elms, ashes, cottonwoods, and sycamore trees that foragers in North or East Texas, and farther north will focus on.) In Central Texas, you waste your time hunting anything other than junipers. Instead of stopping at the first juniper to spend 15 minutes covering every inch of ground, move at a decent pace, being vigilant, keeping your eyes at an angle across the ground beneath the junipers you pass, until you spot a morel. That's the time to freeze and look around (as you'll likely see them all around you), but don't just look for the mushrooms. Look at the ground and note the ground cover. The light. Note the trees around you. The slope, if any, and its orientation relative to the path of the sun. That is the likely pattern in that area that will reveal MORE mushrooms when you find a similar combination on the next hill over. Keep notes. Save the spot on your phone so you can return next year. (It will likely not look the same.)

Good spots can be miles apart, which is why it's usually fruitless to spend 20 minutes in a single small area, scanning the ground carefully. You have to cover LOTS of ground, REPEATEDLY throughout the season, to find a few really good spots.

This is what separates the foragers on here who consistently have big finds every year, from those frustrated newbies who search miles and miles without a single morel. The successful foragers did that for several years until they accumulated several reliable spots, and usually they covered the same greater area multiple times throughout the same season.

But even when you've got a handful of solid spots that can produce abundantly...this is Texas, and not every year is a good year. Sometimes the season is only a few days long. Sometimes we get a few weeks, like we did this year. If you live in the city, like I do, you can't always drive an hour each way to your favorite spot to check it every few days, and in that time span, the spot could fruit and decay and dry out with no trace of ever having fruited. The weather dictates everything here, and if we have a dry winter that moves immediately into 85 degree days in March, we may have no season at all.

Just because YOU aren't finding morels, that doesn't mean they don't fruit where you're looking. And don't EVER discount a likely spot for future fruitings just because you're in the middle of the season and there aren't morels there. They could be there next week, or maybe they're already gone. The smartest return to the same spots year after year and get to know the characteristics and calendar of that same spot. And never discount the possibility that someone has already picked over the place where you're hunting. I had a spot in Oklahoma that produced WILDLY for me for 3 years straight, and then I never found a single morel there in the following 3 years. (I later found out someone local had been hunting that spot for the past 3 years, so it wasn't that the spot stopped producing!)

So if you have the hunger, just persist. It may take you a few years, but when you finally find that honey-hole where they're everywhere as far as you can see, it'll make up for it! I promise.
 

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Hello fellow mycologists!

After about six years, here’s what I’ve learned about morels in Texas, and specificallly Bosque County:

1) I’m about 90% certain there’s a perfect correlation between bluebonnets blossoming and morel growth. In 2021, I’m gonna hunt about a week after I see my first bluebonnet.

2) As most Texans did / still do, I grew up mis-referencing Ashe Junipers as “cedars.” They AIN’T cedars, and I know that. Irregardless [sic], I’m gonna call ‘em cedars in this post.

3) A few days after you see your first bluebonnet, hit the woods. You’re looking for cedars (!) BUT LIVE OAKS NEED TO BE NEARBY / INTERSPERSED IN THE CEDARS. Don’t ask me why: the vast majority of morels I’ve found have been within a cedar drip line, but with live oak leaves on the ground.

4) You’re looking for dappled sunlight and ground cover that’s not overly thick. I haven’t been successful in a dense cedar thicket, deep in cedar needles and no sunlight.

This year I found about two dry gallons’ worth before I ran out of time and water. I went on March 25, and I think I was about 10 days late
Hey Bosque Booger!
I live and successfully hunt morels in Bosque County and agree with what you are saying!!! ;)
 

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Well, I call then cedars even though they are not. Junipers here in east Texas do provide great area to look for morels. Need juniper thickets though.
 

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Thanks for all the tips and great advice! This is only my second year looking, but I've spent hours watching videos, reading tips and hunting slowly under Junipers (I would have said cedar before this lol) in the South Austin area, I'll keep up the search every year with these new tips. One day I hope I'll be squealing with excitement at my first find!!
 

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Just chiming in on the variety of morel habitat. Here's a late one from last week...came up touching the base of a live oak. Hill country so, the consensus is that you need the junipers around...and that surely seems to be true. But I find plenty in areas with live oak and elm leaves around. Also seem to find plenty in pure juniper areas, both thick and with some sun. And both hill tops and near water. Assuming I can find one, I like to follow the limestone ledge closest to the top of a hill or ridge above water. I get more excited for promising terrain features than specific tree mixes.
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