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The First Morel Contest

Mycologists know it's Spring when morels start popping up. These humble fungi can sometimes be found in great numbers in the woods around Ithaca. They inspire joy in the finding and again when you eat 'em. Of course, they may also inspire avarice and even dishonesty: ask a mycologist to divulge the location of her favorite morel patch and you'll see what I mean...

This annual First Morel Contest is open to the Ithaca community. The rules are below. The prizes are mycologically inspired and modest: the joy's in the hunt.


Yummy black morels.

Dr. Kathie T. Hodge, Director
Assoc. Professor of Mycology

Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium
Dept. of Plant Pathology
  & Plant-Microbe Biology
401 Plant Science Bldg.
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

telephone: 607-255-5356

The Rules
  • Collect your prizewinning morel within 15 miles of Ithaca
  • Submit your fresh, intact specimen to Professor Hodge (room 401 Plant Science; 255-5356). The first black and the first yellow morel* received by Prof. Hodge win.
  • Donate your winner to the Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium to be preserved in perpetuity
  • Provide date and time collected plus complete location information (kept confidential on request)
  • Have your picture taken with your winning fungus
  • Enjoy your fame and fabulous prize

The Fine Print: Black morels include Morchella angusticeps, Morchella conica, Morchella semilibera and Morchella elata. Yellows/grays include Morchella esculenta and Morchella deliciosa. All the true morels are edible when cooked--assuming you've identified them correctly. False morels are species of Verpa or Gyromitra. Some false morels are poisonous. I'm happy to help you identify morels, even if you didn't find the first one. Better safe than sorry.


Past Winners: First Black Morel
2010: April 9, Jeanne Grace and Jules Ginenthal
2008: May 8, Jeanine Moy
2006: ?? Dawn Dailey O'Brien
2005: April 24, George Hudler
2004: May 5, Gianna Sassi
2003: no contest
2002: April 28, Susanne Lipari
2001: none found--it was a terrible year!
2000: April 28, Jennifer Svitko

Past Winners: First Yellow Morel
2010: April 21, Sonam Sherpa
2006: April 25, Sarah
2005: May 17, Rebecca Bennett
2004: May 2, Kathryn Bushley
2003: no contest
2002: April 30, Jennifer Frazer
2001: May 23,Carl Whittaker
2000: April 23, Chris Marshall


Morel identification help

Identifying morels and false morels
National Morel Mushroom Hunters' Association
The Great Morel Site
Morels and false morels on

This little book contains everything you need to know about morels: Kuo, M. 2005. Morels. University of Michigan Press.