Gyromitra brunnea (Gabled False Morel)

Description: Brownish, convoluted, saddle-shaped or brainlike cap on whitish, branched stalk.

Cap: 4 3/4" (12 cm) wide, 2-4" (5-10 cm) high; convoluted; saddle-shaped to lobed, with folds arching up and out to compressed, unfused margin; reddish-brown to chocolate-brown above, underside pale buff to tan. Interior chambered; flesh brittle.

Stalk: 5 1/4" (13 cm) long, 3/4-2" (2-5 cm) thick, enlarging somewhat toward base; ribbed to almost smooth, white. Interior nearly hollow to stuffed with cottony white tissue.

Spores: 28-30 X 12-15 m; elliptical, finely warted to spiny, with 2 large oil drops.

Edibility: Poisonous.

Season: Late May-early June.

Habitat: On humus in hardwood forests.

Range: Maryland to Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Look-alikes: G. caroliniana is more convoluted and brainlike, with cap margin fused to stalk. G. marginata, both deadly, grow on decaying wood.

Comments: Also called Helvella underwoodii. The Gabled False Morel is reported to be poisonous and, although no deaths have been linked to it, its toxins can cause blood poisoning, diarrhea, severe headaches, and vomiting.

Gyromitra brunnea image and excerpt from Gary H. Lincoff's National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, (1981/2004, pp. 335-336, image #716).

Gyromitra brunnea (Gabled False Morel)