When in doubt, throw it out!
~The Mushroom Hunter’s Mantra
The “False Morel” has several species which carry scientific names such as Gyromitra esculenta, Verpa, Hellvella, and Disciotis. The Verpa and gyromitrin species are the most often mis-identified variety. The gyroomitrin is oten referred to as the “red mushroom”, the “beefsteak mushroom” or the “lorchel”. There are several true species of the false morel, and while some will say they can prepare and eat the false morel with no problem, others have a drastically opposite reaction to them. Hence, The Great Morel suggests that you do not attempt to digest this particular mushroom.
Research shows this species of the morel family is said to contain a toxic chemical called Gyromitrin, a toxic and possible carcinogenic chemical.
…The texture or makeup of the cap or head can typically have brain-like features, with folds in the caps, which some might describe as wrinkles, and are often brittle to the touch. The color will appear reddish or a brownish red, and will darken to almost a blackish red as the false morel ages. You can see some of this darkening beginning to take place on the image below. Sizes can vary from 2 inches to 10 inches.
One of the easiest ways of determining the false morel is by slicing it long ways. See the image below of a crosscut sectioning and note the meaty texture of the stem. False morels are not hollow, which is the most definite tip that you have stumbled up one of these ugly bad boys. The false morel shown in this image is also quite heavy as it is almost solid in the stem and meaty, and often referred to as “cottony”. Some expert mycologists go into greater detail in defining the relationship of the cap and the stem.