Slang Terms of Morel Hunting


Morel hunters who have been hunting morels for years have a wide vocabulary of morel slang, phrases and terms. It is funny when you meet someone who shares in the passion of morel hunting how many of these terms may come up in a conversation. These slang words or phrases have similar meanings, and yet others are unique to each morel hunter.
The Great Morel will highlight these slang phrases and unique words and have a little lighthearted fun at all of our expense. Many of these so-called slang terms are handed down from generation to generation of morel hunters, and others have unknown origins as to where they were derived from.

It’s just a crazy little language shared by morel hunters everywhere.

Describing your morels

Probably the most commonly used terminology of slang words comes in describing what type of morels you are finding or looking for. One might think of these slang terms as identification slang. The most common identification slang used is to define your morels by the color.

      • Blacks
      • Greys or grays
      • Yellows
      • Creams
      • Whites
      • Blondes
      • Reds (False morels)
North Carolina Morel Cluster
These colors are often the most defining word spoken among seasoned morel hunters to identify the variety of morel they are referring to. When having a conversation with a fellow morel enthusiast, the conversation might go like this –

Kyle might say, “I found a bunch of blacks and a few greys and can’t wait for the big yellows in another week or so…”
Candee responds with, “All I am finding is the creams and fresh greys, I don’t have a place where I can find blacks”

Kyle and Candee know exactly what type of morel each are finding by the simple mention of a color.

While defining the color of the various varieties might be the most popular way of describing your morels, so is describing the morel by the shape and characteristics.

  • Shrooms (most commonly used to define all morels)
  • Spikes (aka half-frees)
  • sponge (defines most morels except spikes)
  • pecker heads (aka spikes, half-frees)
  • half-free (also referred to as halves)
  • Dog-peckers (used to describe spikes)
  • blacktops (used to refer to a black morel)
  • beefsteak (reference to the false morel)
  • Land fish (in other words not water fish)
  • Clusters and clumps (dense gathering of morels in one spot)
Mention any of these slang terms in a conversation with a fellow morel hunter and without a doubt those involved in the conversation will know specifically the type of morels being talked about.

Cindy might start the conversation with: “all I have been finding is a bunch of fresh sponge…”
Jim will ask: “What kind? Greys or fresh yellows? Because all I am finding is a bunch of spikes, but hoping to hit some greys in a week or so.”

Again, the two of them will continue their conversation, knowing exactly what each means. It’s just a crazy little language shared by morel hunters everywhere, although it may sound a bit silly to the non-morel hunting person.
pair of grey morels

The Land of the Morels…

There are other unique morel phrases morel hunters use, and those are used to describe the lay of the land or to inform where they are finding their morels. While these may not be slang, they are phrases well understood by morel hunters and often used to describe places in the woods.

      • Crick bottoms (commonly known as creek bottoms but often pronounced as crick)
      • Bottom land
      • North facing
      • South facing (east and west as well)
      • Runoffs (small little water runoff in a woods)
      • Leaf litter (leaf litter is nothing more than leafs laying cover for the morels)
These expressions are often self-describable, and used by morel hunters just about everywhere you might hunt. Many shroomers will describe where they are finding their morels by mentioning the type of tree and vegetation too.

Mike might say: “All yellows and I’m finding ‘em all around elms and apples, but the night temps need to get warmer for them to really pop. Not finding anything in the run-offs like I usually do.”
Jacob responds with: “Not me man, nothing but tulip poplars on the south facing hills and I’ve been hitting the crick bottoms too.”

As most shroomers reading this know, the other topic seasoned morel hunters refer to is the weather. Now this is pretty much straight forward and not considered slang, but when someone says “need rain” or “needs to warm up”, these terms are meaningful and understood. Things like: soil temps, night time temps, rain, etc. As we all know – proper spring weather make for happy morels and a bountiful season.
yellow or cream morels

Where you find your morels brings us to a new set of various slang morel terms. The Honey Hole, is best described as your personal jackpot spot where you harvest morels in abundance. The “Honey Hole” may vary by each morel hunter, for some it may be a dozen in one spot, while for the lucky ones it may be more morels than you can count or weigh. It is always subject to debate on what actually makes a patch reach “honey hole” status.

      • Honey hole – “my honey hole was a jackpot
      • Spots – “I am going to go hit my early spots”
      • Patch – a general term used to define where morels are commonly found
These morel slang words all describe the places you find morels, yet they may also refer to the types of morels you are looking for. Descriptions such as “black forest” which Dave W in Ohio uses to define the place in the woods where the black morels flourish early in the season. The “grey patch” might be where one finds the early greys, and you may hear someone talk about where the big yellows thrive as another termed spot.
These “spots” often change as the season moves along too. You might have your early spots, your late spots, your sweet spots, new spot, and just plain spots. Some may have black spots, yellow spots and “my spots”. It is also well known that these spots are rarely shared with others. This is an understood vow of morel hunters everywhere – you do not disclose your spots. That is of course unless they are shared with a trusted soul. It is a given rule – for those new to this morel thing, it must be known – you don’t give up your spots.

Quantifying Our Morels…

Lastly, let’s talk about quantifying your morels and thus defining the success of your foraging. Depending on where you hunt your morels and how plentiful they are in your particular region, these terms can be used broadly. For some morel hunters, a good day out may be a dozen, while others brag about the success in terms of weight or volume. It is subject to each and every morel hunter’s feeling of success.

      • Mother Lode
      • A good mess (also just a mess)
      • A few nice ones
      • Slayed them (a bragging phrase used to define a good day in the woods)
      • Dozen or so
      • pounds and/or gallon
      • bushel basket full (sometimes used as a bragging measurement)
      • handful
Larry bragging about his success to Tiffany over beers at the local pub last night, might have sounded like this:

Larry exclaims: “I hit the Mother Lode last night and we pulled in a good couple dozen or so of fresh greys. I hit ‘em hard too!”
Tiffany’s response: ”Man Larry, sounds like you slayed ‘em. My Dad and I went out and found a few nice fresh ones down near that runoff I was telling you about. Only about a handful though.”

Now, understanding Larry calling his couple dozen the Mother Lode is completely appropriate because Larry usually doesn’t find more than a handful each time out. So in the morel world that is totally acceptable and a legitimate reason to call it the Mother Lode.
Also note that Larry just introduced a new slang term used in the mushroom world when he said “hit ‘em hard”. Once again another commonly used slang phrase. It is tough for The Great Morel to clearly define the origin of this phrase, as it can take on multiple meanings. Hit ‘em hard might mean you hunted your spots thoroughly, or you cleaned up that patch, or you hunted hard with or without success. Generally speaking you just hit ‘em hard.

Sally talking about her day in the woods: ”I went to my patch hoping to find some early yellows and all I found was spikes on the south facing slopes but I did find a good mess of em’. I think I’ll hit ’em hard again tomorrow and see if I can’t find a new spot or get lucky and find the Mother Lode.”

sponge morels
See what Sally did there? She just gave a detailed description of her time in the woods – what and where she was searching, what she gathered, valued her rewards as “a good mess”, and she plans on hitting them again tomorrow. Pretty explainable right?

Unique to Shroomers…

Many of us know when you get around those who might not share the same passion of morel hunting that one may tend to “dumb it down” and refrain from using morel slang. Yet, when discussing with other morel hunters it is so easy to cut loose and let the conversation flow. In the end, you know exactly what each of you are talking about.
This shared and unique dialog is what shapes us as shroomers.
Get going and head to the woods. Hit your spots for the early grays down near the creek bottoms off the south facing hills in search of the Mother Lode, then wait for your patch of fresh yellows to start producing, hit ‘em hard and hope the air and soil temps are perfect as you seek out the ever-elusive great morel.
Happy Hunting!


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