Original Article

High-elevation gray morels and other Morchella species harvested as non-timber forest products in Idaho and Montana

a1 349 S. Logan St., Denver, CO 80209, USA.
a2 Department of Forest Science, 321 Richardson Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331 USA. Email:;

Article author query
mcfarlane em   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
pilz d   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
weber ns   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


We investigated post-fire morels (Morchella species), especially the “gray” morels of Idaho and Montana, by collecting ecological and genetic data and by interviewing commercial mushroom harvesters and buyers. Gray morels fruited exclusively in high-elevation Picea/Abies forests that had burned the preceding summer, predominantly in zones of moderate fire intensity as indicated by a layer of dead conifer needles on top of the fire ash. Genetic analysis revealed five varieties of morels among our specimens. Mushroom harvesters confirmed that gray morels are economically crucial to their business because they are typically large, heavy, and durable. Harvesters and buyers described the varieties of morels they encountered differently than mycologists did, but cooperative research could facilitate mutual understanding of morel diversity and benefit everyone involved.

Key Words: Morels; non-timber forest products; wildfire; forest ecology; taxonomy; commercial harvesters; mushroom buyers.