Monte & the Debate Over Little Grays & Big Yellows

March 24, 2012


It is a common belief when frequenting taverns there are several topics to avoid. These topics include religion, politics and in Illinois, whether the Cubs or Cardinals is the superior baseball team. In Central Illinois, and especially this time of year – though it is normally a bit early – another topic to avoid is whether or not Little Gray Morel mushrooms are the same as Big Yellow Morel mushrooms. 

When it came to topics of the natural world, Monte’s knowledge was vast, especially when it came to those things in the natural world he had personally witnessed.  When he would tell local Morel mushroom aficionados Little Grays and Big Yellows were the same, nary a one would believe him.  Not even when he tried to tell them over the years he had purposely left Little Grays alone and watched them over a brief period of time grow into Big Yellows.  

Below is an image from an internet site showing the growth of a Little Gray into a Big Yellow:


And information from The Mushroom Expert states,

DNA analysis of MDCP collections confirms what mycologists have long suspected: that “gray” morels are not genetically distinct, as a group. The many specimens labeled “grays” by collectors have not grouped together, DNA-wise, to the exclusion of other morels that do not have dark pits and pale ridges. In short, DNA evidence does not support the idea that “gray morels,” in the midwestern and eastern sense, are a separate species.

Further, that,

…..that some populations of morels are consistently “gray” from youth to maturity, year to year. The explanation for these consistently gray “grays” is not entirely clear (it may have something to do with weather conditions or other ecological factors)–but it is not because the morels in question constitute a separate species, according to the available scientific evidence.


Over the years while Monte and Sharyl resided in the old Dr. Betts home, Morel mushrooms would rise underneath two large Blue Spruce trees in their yard.  Monte and Sharyl, and especially Monte, would refuse to pick them out of hopes for the patch to grow larger and larger as years went by. Slowly, word of this patch spread throughout the area and often neighbors would threaten to sneak into their yard and pick their bounty. 

This was just one more area where Monte witnessed the Little Grays turn into Big Yellows and even though he witnessed it, the local Morel mushroom aficionados steadfastly refused to believe it and would stubbornly argue their point just as strongly as a Cub or Cardinal fan when coming up against their opponent.  

So even though Monte knew this, when in taverns, he still dared to bring up religion, politics and that Little Grays do turn into Big Yellows if left alone. 

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