March 23, 2019

Do you know your morels?

How to navigate with the names of species? Each region of the world has its own familiar names, often simply evoking a color: black mushroom, red, ... Thus, the pickers of morels of fire in North-West America offer blond morels or black (conical), gray or tomentose depending on visual characteristics.
In fact, there is an official nomenclature with Latin consonances. It is kept by an international organization Index fungorum and regularly updated on their website following the refinement of genetic analysis. Species multiply and subdivide according to characteristics that escape the naked eye. The assignment of the genus (first term of the name or taxon, the second term designating the species) changes when one discovers a filiation with a first ancestor different from that imagined until then. On the other hand, conventionally, the name of the species remains the one given to him by the first person to have reported the presence of a species.
For a trader, precision is important but sometimes difficult. Thus, there are to date more than 65 species of the genus Morchella: 36 of them descend from the same ancestor "blond" (esculenta), 27, of a common ancestor "black" (elata) and two of a third ancestor (M. rufobrunnea). Only five species would frequent the burns. Contrary to pickers’ beliefs, they would all descend from the same "black" ancestor: Mel-1 or tomentosa (Mel for M. elata as opposed to Mes for M. esculenta), Mel-6 or sextelata, Mel-7 or eximia , Mel-8 and Mel-9 or exuberans. The latter is said to be the only one found in burns east of the Rockies.
Some Morchella species are illustrated on the photos above: a) M. vulgaris (epitype). b) M. anatolica (PhC233). c) M. ulmaria (holotype). d) M. esculenta (epitype). e) M. castaneae (holotype). f) M. exuberans (holotype). g) M. americana (holotype). h) M. quercus-ilicis h) M. kakiicolor (holotype). i) M. deliciosa (PhC90). j) M. eximia (epitype). k) M. dunalii (epitype). l) M. pulchella (holotype). m) M. sceptriformis (holotype). n) M. purpurascens (epitype). o) M. semilibera (neotype).Puzzled? If you get fire morels at Mycoboutique, they probably share the same ancestor "black" and the same astounding taste. Often, we can’t be more precise. In any case, you can be assured of their quality.

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