Where are the morels? This website tracks their path

The page, which started two decades ago, claims a million visits a year, plus more than 10,000 followers on Facebook. The site offers photos, recipes and stories of the oft-cagey mushroom.

But the most popular feature is a real-time map that shows morel sightings. Over time, visitors can watch as morels progress from George in February and march north through the Midwest and elsewhere, then eventually into Canada.

“The map is super popular for many to determine about when they should expect them,” says site founder Brad Wildermuth. ”... I think people like to follow it to get a feel for when the morels may be arriving in their particular region.”

For example, the 2019 map (for dedicated researchers, historical maps are available) shows just two Illinois morel sightings by the end of March — and only at the end of the month and southern tip of the state. Of course, that’s not to say there weren’t sightings elsewhere that went unreported. But it does confirm what morel hunters know: that morels usually don’t pop up in Greater Peoria until April — when the map becomes blotted with sightings in central Illinois along with the rest of the Midwest.

However, don’t get the idea that anyone is spilling any precious secrets. Web submissions involve only very basic info — ZIP codes, city, county, state — plus images. You’re not going to find any treasure map to a morel paradise.

“The map is also a way for folks to get on the map and brag or boast of their success,” Wildermuth says. ” ... Most morel hunters are very secretive about their spots. We have never had a morel hunter send in actual GPS coordinates.”