bowl of lions main, oyster, and coral mushrooms
[ Healthy Living ][ Mushrooms ][ Nature Lovers ]

What’s So Special About Morel and Lions Mane Mushrooms?

 Disclaimer: The information provided herein is for entertainment purposes only and should not be constituted as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for advice on changing your diet. 

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Manic For Mushrooms

Calling all Shroomers! 

You know who you are. 

The ones who add mushrooms to just about every meal, or heck, has replaced your diet with mushrooms in stead of meat. 

You drink it in your coffee, teas, you even add it to your smoothies. 

I get it. 

Mushrooms are amazing and come in such a wide yummy variety it’s easy to build a collection. 

You can get them fresh, dried, frozen, freeze dried, ground up, and even in your coffee. 

So let’s spotlight a couple of mushrooms that you enthusiasts will be well versed in but the growing novice needs to know about. 

The Mighty Morel Mushroom

golden morel mushroom

(Blond Morel)

To those new to the foraging community, provided you live in or near a good foraging environment, I’m sad to tell you the Morel season is already about half over. 

Morel Mushrooms are a springtime variety and grow in North America and Europe in dense humid and warmer forests, say 50 degrees F. 

They start to emerge in March and will grow into June. April and May are the best times for foraging.

I’m not going to go into great detail on how to forage as Wikihow has a fun info page on how to find morels for those interested. 

Just consider it an added bonus to your spring hikes. 

Why forage when you can buy?

Basket of black morel mushrooms

(Black Morels)

Can you buy them? 

Yes you can, at around $20 a pound on average, which considering the effort that goes into harvesting them I expected more. 

In comparison truffles are as high as $120-$130 per ounce depending on the type and quality. 

So $20 a pound is actually much more affordable. 

The reason for the price is they cannot be grown artificially, or at least, are extremely difficult to cultivate on a farm. 

Thus foraging is really the best option for collecting your morels. 

Many experienced foragers do sell their harvest at farmers markets, if you’re lucky enough to have a morel mushroom stand that is. 

Another reason for their price is that they don’t hold up well as their insides are hollow, so you want to use them fairly soon after harvesting. 

However you can dry them and keep them up to 6 months. They rehydrate well and retain their lovely texture and flavor. 

Or you can freeze them and add them straight into soups. 

But if you’re not confident in your foraging skills then buying or finding someone to teach you is best. 

Nothing Like A Blond

reddish brown false morel mushroom on white background

(False Morel)

Morels come in a variety of fair colors from blond to grey and are easy to recognize thanks to their awesome honeycombed shape.

They can be oblong or bulbous. 

But Beware of False Morels for they are Nothing like a blond.

These Doppelgängers are a reddish brown to yellow color and instead of a uniform shape the caps tend to hang to one side. 

And they are poisonous. 

This would not be a nice addition to your stir fry, so take care when foraging, or take an experienced shroomer with you. 

Morel Cooking

Mixed Morels in a stock pot

(Pot of blond and grey morels)

So many amazing recipes exist for cooking with morels. 

And yes you do want to cook them as they can give one a stomach ache if eaten raw. 

Once  cooked their nutty earthy flavor lends a certain “je ne sais quoi” to any culinary dish. 

A simple sauce with butter and a bit of garlic is really an easy place to start. Then you can add it to pasta, soups, risotto.

Or make a mushroom sauce to go over steak, or put in a hamburger. 

Or use it to augment your own homemade veggie burger. 

For more check out The Great Morel. Yes, it’s a site completely devoted to Morel Mushrooms. 

Which goes to show how popular they are. 

Health Benefits: Loaded with vitamins and minerals

Morels are loaded with: 

  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus 
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin d
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin 

And they have a decent dose of: 

-potassium

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Thiamine
  • Vitamins E and B6

Also high in Anti-oxidants, fiber and protein, and low in calories. 

The antioxidants in morels are great at protecting the body from free radicals. 

Personally this sounds better than a multivitamin. And what a yummy way to augment your healthy diet. 

In general all mushrooms have antibacterial benefits and are high in Beta-D-Glucans and Polysaccharides that have been shown to boost immune systems and have tumor inhibiting effects as well as many other benefits. 

And speaking of healthy mushrooms, let’s turn to the Lion’s Mane. 

Lions-Mane Mushroom

Lions mane mushroom growing at base of tree with fallen leaves around it.

(Lion’s Mane)

Hericium erinaceus known as lions-mane as well as, monkey head mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, satyr’s beard, bearded hedgehog, pom pom mushroom, or bearded tooth fungus.

Personally I think it looks like a frozen waterfall. 

The latin genus (hericium) and species (erinaceus) names both mean hedgehog. 

Who ever said that scientist don’t have an imagination? Or sense of humor? Maybe it’s just me but hedgehog mushroom gives me a chuckle but lion’s mane sounds more noble and more appealing. 

From Spring into the Fall

Lions mane mushroom growing on tree

(Lion’s Mane)

While morels grow in the spring, Lion’s Mane fruit bodies grow from August to November and are predominantly harvested in Europe, though they do grow in North America as well. 

They can be foraged but have also been artificially cultivated since the late 1980’s in China, and have been apart of Chinese medicine for a long time. 

The yield tends to be low on traditional artificial growth mediums such as fake logs, but they appear to do well in a liquid based growth medium known as a broth. 

They prefer to grow on hardwood like the American Beech, and can be found most readily on fallen and dead trees, though they can adapt to living trees. 

But for the true shroomer there’s nothing like fresh from nature. 

While many mushrooms have a musky, earthy, or even nutty flavor, Lion’s mane has been compared to that of lobster. 

Let’s butter it up and throw it in some pasta!

Health benefits: Get ready! 

Oh the health benefits. Where to even start? 

The health benefits are abundant so here is a quick overview of some of the more well known benefits. 

Lion’s Mane contains hericenones and erinacines that can stimulate the growth of brain cells. 

What? Who doesn’t need more brain power? I know I do. 

In addition, some studies have shown that it may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and degenerative brain disease that causes progressive memory loss. 

It also has anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in mice, and possibly humans. 

“One small study in menopausal women found that eating cookies containing lion’s mane mushrooms daily for one month helped reduce self-reported feelings of irritation and anxiety”

That’s awesome but here’s my question: was it the lions mane or being told to eat cookies that helped reduce the irritation and anxiety? Cause I know cookies make me happy. 

Whether you were in the control group or the test group that sounds like a yummy study. 

Time for rapid fire information: 

-May speed recover from nervous system injuries. 

-Protect against ulcers in the digestive tract. 

-Reduce Heart Disease Risks

-Help to manage diabetes symptoms

-May help fight cancer

-Reduces inflammation and Oxidative Stress, which is the root of many modern illnesses including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. 

-Boost the immune system

Here’s the Catch

More human studies need to be done but the results in the lab are very interesting and potentially life changing for many. 

Not to mention there is enough science combined with anecdotal evidence that there is a wide range of lion’s mane products available.  

Special Note: 

No adverse side effects have been observed in the lab animals however if you are allergic or sensitive to mushrooms you should avoid lions mane since it is a mushroom species. 

Now I’m Hungry 

bowl of lions main, oyster, and coral mushrooms

(Shiitake, Lion’s Mane, and Coral Mushrooms) 

I’ve always loved mushrooms but knowing about all the amazing benefits, especially from Morel and Lion’s Mane just makes me want to run out and buy some. 

The Morel’s might be a little tricky to get fresh but luckily Lions Mane is readily available. 

Our own lovely Kay (owner, designer, jeweler extraordinaire) loves her Four Sigmatic Coffee with Lion’s Mane and describes it as having a smooth flavor. 

Now I’m not a coffee drinker but I love cocoa and yes, you can get chocolate with lions mane. My preference is the Wild Cocotropic Nootropic Superfood Powder. It’s great to add into smoothies, teas, pancakes, cookies, and even coffee if that’s your pleasure. 

Okay, time to go make some Lion’s Mane cookies. 

Resources
Morel
What are Morel Mushrooms
The Great Morel
Health Benefits of the Morel Mushroom
Find Morel Mushrooms
Lions Mane
Hericium Erinaceus
Lions Man Mushrooms
Nutrition Lions Mane Mushroom
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About Author

Jenn Gaskin

After more than a decade in education I decided to turn my copious skills to writing. I have been freelance writing for Dancing Tree Gifts (formerly Sonora Kay Creations) since 2019. I wear many hats with DTG primarily copy editor, author, and web design.