Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Gyromitra Sp. - False Morel

"Dangerously poisonous false morels (Gyromitra species) vaguely resemble morels. They are easy to tell from morels, though, because they have wrinkled or gnarled caps instead of the coarse honeycomb or netlike patterns of morel caps." [FGWMP Russell] Gyromitra grow on soil and hummus [Chang BCEM] "Mycologists disagree on the number of species of False Morels." [CEPMNE]

Gyromitra esculenta

Gyromitra esculenta



Gyromitra infula

Gyromitra infula


Confirmed Local Sp.

  1. Gyromitra ambigua (Not specifically mentioned as being on Vancouver Island)[E-flora]
  2. Gyromitra californica - California false morel [E-flora]
  3. Gyromitra esculenta - False Morel [E-flora][2]
  4. Gyromitra infula - Saddle-shaped False Morel [E-flora][2]


Gyromitra esculenta - False Morel

Gyromitra infula - Saddle-shaped false morel


Edible Uses

Other Use


"The species name, esculenta, refers to the excellent edibility of the fungus... the fact remains that in both Europe and America it has been known with certainty to have caused fatal poisoning. Many of these cases have been too well authenticated to permit reasonable doubt as to the identity of the fungus responsible. Such cases are rare... and most.. have occurred among people who were sick or undernourished. ..." [Clyde M. Christensen]

Gyromitra esculenta; "Although the false morel Gyromitra esculenta is eaten dried or boiled in some countries, the fresh mushroom is poisonous. Raw or incompletely cooked material has caused fatal cases of food poisoning. The major toxin is gyromitrin...It is accompanied by smaller amounts of the N-methyl-N-formylhydrazones of other aldehydes such as propanal, 3-methylbutanal and hexanal. They are present at a typical level of 57 mg kg–1. Boiling for 10 min reduces this to 1 mg kg–1. Gyromitrin exerts its toxicity by methylating DNA." [ChemoFungi]

Gyromitra esculenta; "there is a peculiar mystery about the gyromitra esculenta, a common species much eaten (as its name suggests) in Europe. Certain it is that at intervals cases occur where an individual dies from it.... It seems that everyone may eat this tasty mushroom with impunity for the first time. But there are rare individuals who, if they return to a mess of the same species shortly thereafter, and if the mushrooms are fresh rather than dried, suffer a dangerous and even fatal anaphylactic shock." [RussMush 1]

"Gyromitrin syndrome. Symptoms begin two to twenty-four hours after ingestion and can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, coma, convulsions, delirium, fever, headache, restlessness, respiratory failure, and liver damage leading to jaundice. Kidney failure may also occur, and death is possible in severe cases. The breakdown products of gyromitrin are hydrazines, which are carcinogenic; however, there is no evidence that these cause cancer in humans." [EPMW Hall]

"The poisoning is usually attributed to helvellic acid which acts on the red blood-corpuscles, and the symptoms recorded for earlier cases support this view. However, numerous poisonings, particularly in Germany, have shown that the action is not simple haemolysis, but its true nature still remains in doubt. Large quantities of the raw fungus are exported annually from Poland principally to Germany. The factory workers suffer from eye trouble either from the spores of the fungus or from irritation by poison on the fingers." [PF Ramsbottom]

Brief Summaries of Species not Detailed

Gyromitra ambigua

G. californica - California false morel

Uses of Related Sp.


Page last modified on Friday, June 30, 2023 8:09 AM