• Catoctin Mountain

    Catoctin Mountain

    Park Maryland

Mushrooms and Other Fungi

Nature and Science

Morel mushroom

Fungi is the name of the kingdom of living organisms that includes mushrooms, molds and crusts. Lacking chlorophyll, fungi must obtain food by absorbing nutrients from surrounding soil or decayed wood in which they grow.

While there are many different species of mushrooms and fungi in Catoctin Mountain Park, it is the common morel (Morchella species) that is the most well known. The morel is highly sought after both by animals and humans who considered this mushroom a "choice edible". In the past, the common morel was abundant throughout the park, but this has since changed. Today morels are scarcely seen. Whether this is due to an environmental change, human harvesting, or a high deer population is not known. Visitors are permitted to collect mushrooms from the park for personal consumption only. It is highly recommended that while collecting mushrooms you transport them in a breathable, mesh bag (such as an onion bag) rather than a plastic or paper sack. This method allows mushroom spores to escape the bag and be distributed throughout the forest, ensuring that there will be morels for all in the future.

Be sure to use caution when collecting mushrooms. Some mushrooms are extremely poisonous and eating them could result in death. Know how to properly identify mushrooms before you set out, or go with a mushroom expert.

Did You Know?

White-tailed deer in the summer grass

Extremely rare at the beginning of the 20th century, white-tailed deer populations in Maryland have not only rebounded, but now number more than at any time in history.