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Gyromitra esculenta   (False Morel)
North America, Europe
5-15 cm diameter, 5-12 cm tall, including stem
Lethally poisonous

Gyromitra esculenta, also known as False Morel, has a fruiting body that consists of an irregular, brown, brain-like structure on a pale stem. It grows solitary or in small trooping groups near conifers, typically on acid, sandy soils.

Fruiting body irregularly shaped and reminds of a brain structure. Initially smooth, it becomes progressively more wrinkled as it grows and ages. The cap colour may be various shades of reddish-, chestnut-, purplish-, bay-, dark or sometimes golden-brown. Stem attached to the cap at several points. Gyromitra esculenta has a solid stipe whereas those of true morels (Morchella spp.) are hollow. The spore print is whitish.

Warning This mushroom is deadly poisonous. Toxins allegedly lost after thorough cooking but, if ingested, the effect is probably cumulative with no immediate symptoms.

Similar species include Gyromitra gigas, Gyromitra brunna, Gyromitra caroliniana and Gyromitra korfii which are often larger and more vivid orange-brown; common in parts of North America.

Gyromitra esculenta on the MushroomExpert.Com Web site.
Gyromitra esculenta on the web site.

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