Morel Mushrooms

Morchella esculenta

Morel Mushrooms, also known as sponge, pinecone, and honeycomb mushrooms, are the most popular wild mushroom in Missouri and the United States. They range in color from tan to pale gray to yellow and the surface is covered with pits and ridges. They vary in size, but can grow to be 12 inches tall. Many nature lovers hunt for this fine fungus in mid April and early May. Keep a close eye on the lilac bushes – when they bloom, it is time to look for mushrooms. They grow in moist woodlands and river bottoms when the weather has been consistently warm and rainy. They are considered a delicacy and are sold commercially for a huge price. They are delicious fried, stewed, baked, creamed, or stuffed.

Virginia Waterleaf

Hydrophyllum virginianum

Virginia Waterleaf is a small perennial herb that is easily overlooked. There are 8 species of waterleaf in North America. The plants grow to be less than two feet tall, but produce large 9 inch, deeply lobed, coarsely toothed leaves. Whitish gray watermarks splash the young leaves, but are absent in older plants. The smaller leaves have both a better flavor and texture. They are abundant in hardwood forests and thickets nearby rivers and streams during spring, but are completely gone by midsummer. Fresh waterleaf is high in vitamins c and a. Native Americans chewed the rood of the plant to get rid of cold sores. It can be eaten raw, in salad, or cooked in any dish as a spinach substitute.

Yellow Wood Sorrel

Oxalis stricta

Yellow wood sorrel is a clover like woodland flower with heart shaped leaves and a sour taste. It stands about 6 inches from the ground on sharp, bent stalks. It produces pale yellow flowers from May to October and seed pods that resemble miniature okras. The flowers attract small insects like bees, who also help pollinate the plant. Sorrel can thrive in a variety of habitats. Fresh leaves can make a delicious salad or beverage. Wood sorrel is very high in vitamin c.