Have you ever heard of Verpa Bohemica? Do not worry, you are not alone if you are completely lost over this name. Although it looks like a morel mushroom, it is a unique species that have their characteristics. Before you make the mistake of harvesting Verpa Bohemica instead of morels, keep reading to find out all you need to know about this mushroom.
Let’s get started, here are the 8 things to know about Verpa Bohemica:
Fact #1: It is often called an “early morel”
Although it is very similar to the morels, the Verpa Bohemica is nothing like them. It grows before and during the morel season.
Unlike morels, the Verpa cap is more wrinkled but not hollowed. This mushroom also happens to have dark brown or tan folds that sort of look like a brain. The Verpa also happens to be more delicate and might come apart simply by touching it.
Fact #2: To differentiate it, you might have to do some investigating
Since not everyone is a mushroom expert, you might want to grab a knife and cut it in half, and looking at how the cap is attached to the stem. In this case, the Verpa will have a cap that is attached to the top of the stem, but the rest of the cap is almost hanging down, which is why it is often referred to as the “free-hanging” cap.
Fact #3: Verpa Bohemica grows along rivers and streams
Although it lasts longer than morels, the Verpa also grows in wooded areas. It is likely to be growing along streams, rivers, or other bodies of water. You will find them at the base of cottonwoods that grow in these areas.
Fact #4: Although you can eat it, some should not
This false morel is not inedible, it can be cooked thoroughly, but for some, it might cause gastrointestinal symptoms, like pain, nausea, vomiting, and even muscle spasms.
For some, there is some benefit in cooking Verpa and eating them in small doses. Some experts recommend you not only cook Verpas but also parboil them, especially so you can avoid the stem. This part contains a toxin that causes gastrointestinal distress, but it can be released with parboiling.
When you follow these directions, you are likely going to be okay. However, try starting with small pieces at a time. If you are likely to suffer from indigestion or have a food intolerance, the Verpa is not for you.
Fact #5: The taste is not the same as morels either
Even if you think you have found a morel look-alike that will also taste as delicious, you might be wrong. The Verpa Bohemica tastes much earthier and a bit bitter. However, you can season them accordingly and stuff them with food to mask the flavor.
Fact #6: They are closely related to other false morels
Verpa Bohemica is not the only false morel you might encounter. The Verpa Conica is similar but has a smooth cap instead, although some variations might also have wrinkled caps.
Another closely related group is the Morchella Semilibera that has holes in the cap attached to the stalk. It also happens to have darker ridges than the pits.
Fact #7: You can find Verpa Bohemica in various places of the world
Verpa Bohemica can grow in a variety of settings. In the United States, you can find them along the Great Lakes and the Midwestern regions. You will likely also see them in California.
Verpas are also a common occurrence in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Ukraine.
Although not extremely common, you might also see Verpas in India and Turkey.
Fact #8: The Verpa Bohemica survives longer because it has a wide range of temperature habitat
As we have mentioned before, the Verpa can begin growing in the spring season. However, it can also grow in various temperatures, so you might see this mushroom in other seasons.
The fungus will likely grow in minimum temperatures of 37.4 degrees F (3 degrees C). Still, the perfect temperature for Verpas is around 71 degrees F (22 degrees C). The maximum temperature this false morel can withstand is 88 degrees F (31 degrees C).
Do not confuse your morels anymore!
Now that you see that the Verpa Bohemica is more common than you thought, you can safely pick it out from your morels. As we mentioned, you do not have to immediately discard it, but you can cook it accordingly to use it.
Verpas are not poisonous, but they can be dangerous if not cared for properly. Make sure you read these tips carefully when you go out harvesting. You might be surprised at how much you know about Verpa Bohemica now and how useful it could be next time you go mushroom hunting!