There’s nothing like hunting for morel mushrooms in Arkansas. These pro tips will help make your Spring morel hunt a success.
When morel mushroom season begins in Arkansas, it’s all some folks can talk about. It almost becomes a contest to see who can find the most and the biggest. Foraging for mushrooms in Arkansas is a big deal to many and it’s a lot of fun.
However, there are plenty of people who just collect them because they enjoy them for supper. They don’t need an award for finding the biggest morel in Arkansas. They enjoy hunting in their favorite areas and cooking up delicous meals.
No matter which group you fall into, there are plenty of morel mushrooms to go around here in Arkansas…if you know where to look.
This article was written for entertainment purposes only. It is not to be considered as expert advice. We are not suggesting or implying what is or is not safe to consume. Everyone’s bodies and reactions are different. There are many variables when foraging. Only two examples are: 1. Some wild edibles must be processed to remove toxins. 2. Be aware that many wild edible plants in Arkansas also have toxic lookalikes.
Always seek expert help. Forage at your own risk.
About Morel mushrooms
Morel mushrooms are a highly prized mushroom that have an expensive price to match. That is why many people prefer to forage for their own. Besides, the hunt is just as exciting as the cooking!
Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible sac fungi closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi in the order Pezizales (division Ascomycota). These distinctive fungi have a honeycomb appearance due to the network of ridges with pits composing their caps. Morels are prized by gourmet cooks, particularly in French cuisine.–source
Do Morels Grow in Arkansas?
Yes, morel mushrooms grow in Arkansas and many foragers take to the woods to hunt for them each spring. Each “morel hunter” has their own secret spots and they will most likely not tell you where they are.
But don’t worry. I have some tips for you today.
Types of Morel Mushrooms in Arkansas
In Arkansas, you will typically find two different kinds of morel mushrooms.
- black morel
The black morel has ridges that are gray or tan-colored on a young one, which gradually turns black as the mushroom grows old; the pits are brown in color and stretched in shape. –source
- yellow morel
Yellow morels are aged versions of the common morel species; the pits and ridges of these morels are yellowish brown in color, which gives them their name. –source
Morel Sightings in Arkansas
Although morels can be found all over Arkansas, you aren’t going to have much luck searching in a hot, dry field.
Morels tend to grow near the drip line of trees, river beds, or near dead trees.
Arkansas towns that have reported morels recently
- Van Buren
- Bald Knob
Where can I find morel mushrooms in Arkansas?
Morel mushrooms have been found all over Arkansas. However, they still remain elusive. Morels have a way of popping up when they want and leaving just as quickly.
They hide under leaves and remain camouflaged to the untrained eye.
They also have a tendency to not grow in the same spot you might have found them in last year.
They are tricky like that.
Best Locations and Counties to Find Morels in Arkansas
- Smith Creek Preserve
–The Nature Conservancy’s Smith Creek Preserve is 1,316 acres of beautiful Ozark forest bisected by Smith Creek, a tributary to the Buffalo National River. –source
- Crawford County
- White County
- Carroll County
- Fulton County
- Near the Arkansas Crater of Diamonds (the world’s only public diamond mine)
- Lake Catherine State Park
Best Places to Find Morel Mushrooms in Arkansas
Morels won’t grow just anywhere. They prefer certain habitats.
You have the best chance of finding morels in these areas:
- Along the drip line of trees
- Around ash, elm, cottonwood, and oak trees
- Near dead or dying trees
- Old Apple orchards
- In well-drained loamy soil
Most people prefer to hunt for morels in the northern half of the state. There are many fun things to do in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and hunting for morels is one of them!
Morel Season in Arkansas
Morel season in Arkansas is typically from early march through the end of April.
However, if May begins with a cold spell, you might find morels in May also.
It is important to note that warm weather will end the morel season so you won’t want to procrastinate.
How to Identify False Morels in Arkansas
As fun as morel hunting can be, you must be aware of false morels.
In Arkansas, you will find the Gyromitra caroliniana or “Big Red False Morel.”
The fruit body, or ascocarp, appears on the ground in woodland, and can grow to massive sizes. The heavily wrinkled cap is red-brown in color, nearly spherical to roughly elliptical in shape, and typically measures 15 to 20 cm (5.9 to 7.9 in) tall and 6 to 13 cm (2.4 to 5.1 in) wide. The stipe is massive, up to 11 cm (4.3 in) thick, with a white felt-like surface.–source
Morel Hunting Classes
The Ozark Natural Science Center in Madison county has been known to host morel hunting classes for anyone who is interested in learning more.
Visit their website or contact them to inquire about any future classes.
Morel Mushroom Festival in Arkansas
Because Arkansans are morel mushroom crazy, Eureka Springs hosted a “Eureka Springs Morel Mushroom Festival” back in 2017.
This event features booths, live music, seminars and prizes.
They even had a secret Morel hunt!
Be sure to check with the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce to find out when the next festival might be.
You’ll also love this: 8 Unforgettable Things to Do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas this year!
Morel Hunting Tips in Arkansas
Hunting for morels in Arkansas can be fun and frustrating at the same time but a few hunting tips will help get you on the right track.
- Look around Sycamore, Elm, Oak, and Ash trees
- Morels love old apple orchards
- Check around the drip lines of trees
- Morels tend to prefer hill sides near creeks
- Train your eyes to spot morels by studying photos of them in leaves before leaving on a hunt