KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Morel mushrooms might look like something out of a horror movie, however, hunting for these small mushrooms from about March to early May is serious business.

A business so serious that according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, many mushroom hunters refuse to reveal their morel spots even to their closest friends and family.

So how do you find morel mushrooms?

According to the MDC, morels are finicky fungal organisms. The underground portion of the fungus only produces mushrooms in some years — mostly based on soil temperature and moisture availability (but other factors play a role, too).

Here are a few tips to help you narrow down good places to look for morel mushrooms in Missouri, according to the MDC.

  • Morels commonly appear after warm, moist spring weather with daytime temperatures in the low 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 50s.
  • South and west-facing slopes are good sites to look for morels early in the season, with north and east slopes being better for later-season morel hunting.
  • Morels tend to favor tree species such as elms, ashes, cottonwoods, and even domesticated apples. Look around recently dead trees but beware of falling branches.
  • Areas disturbed by flooding, fire, or logging often produce loads of morels.
  • Morels peak when lilacs bloom!
  • Most public lands in Missouri allow the collecting of mushrooms for personal use, but always check the regulations before you collect to be sure.

The MDC said to remember these are just general guidelines and morels have been found growing in all sorts of locations and conditions.

Make sure knowing how to correctly identify morel mushrooms as consuming toxic mushrooms can lead to mild stomach issues, to organ failure or even death, according to the MDC.