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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 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 annual prize is 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 morel received by Prof. Hodge wins.
  • 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: The names of morels have been changing lately in response to a deeper understanding of their diversity. You can read more on this project here. Some morels can so far be identified definitively to species via DNA sequencing!  But don't worry, all the true morels are edible when cooked—assuming you've identified them correctly. Uncooked morels will make you sick. On the other hand, some false morels (species of Verpa or Gyromitra) can kill you. I'm happy to help you identify morels, even if you didn't find the first one. Better safe than sorry.


Morel identification help

Morels and false morels on