Wow, that is one phallic-looking mushroom! But let's not get distracted. I promised you hints for finding morels and hints you shall receive, at least for the yellow morel (Morchella esculenta). Please note that these are only suggestions based on my own limited, amateur experience and, let's face it, a healthy dose of beginner's luck. Still, they're better than nothing.
Hint #1: THEY'RE OUT RIGHT NOW!!! Late April through early June.
Hint #2: You'll probably want to read some books before you go. The field guide I have is the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. This is the book I bring to the woods. Another book I love is The Complete Mushroom Book by Antonio Carluccio, an Italian chef and forager. It has great recipes and amazing photos. Total mushroom porn. This is the book that moves between the kitchen and the bedside table. But the book that really made the idea of foraging for my own wild mushrooms accessible to a novice was Start Mushrooming, which was recommended by a Harvard-trained mycologist friend. It teaches you how to identify six edible varieties of wild mushrooms safely. Morels are one of them.
Hint #3: As far as habitat, I found my first two morels under a blossoming apple tree. Old farms and apple orchards are prime hunting grounds. Be sure to ask permission before foraging on private property.
Morels love dead elms and stressed-out ash trees, too, I hear. Watch out for poison ivy. Since morels are associated with the roots of certain trees, you'll often find more than one around the base of the trunk, sometimes as far as 10 feet out. Mine were much closer.
Morels seem to grow all over Massachusetts, but my luck turned when I headed away from the city a bit, say 30 minutes due west of Boston. If you want ideas for trails, check out the Bay Circuit Greenway maps.
I also found a bunch of poisonous false morels on my trek, like the one below:
I didn't touch them. They are the poisonous look-alikes that the experts warn you about. I don't think this one really looks like a morel, though, do you? I mean, something would have to be seriously wrong with that morel for it to be a morel. Like if it were growing out of a toxic waste dump or something. But false morels can look a lot more like true morels, as in this photo. Can you tell the difference? Real morels have more of a conical shape and a pitted, honeycomb appearance. False morels tend to be wrinkled (as if deflated), misshapen, and brain-like in shape. Another difference: real morels are completely hollow inside while false morels are chambered and often filled with a whitish, cottony material. Cut your morels in half, top to bottom, to double check your answers.
Finally, we come to the disclaimer portion of this post. Here it is: Don't be an idiot. Don't eat anything you're not 100% sure about. Always cook morels thoroughly—never eat them raw as they contain a toxin that is deactivated with cooking. Furthermore, some people have allergic reactions to certain mushrooms that are edible to the majority. I am one such person. So, if you've never had morels before, or any other wild mushroom, it's a good idea to start with a few bites and then wait 24 hours to see how things go digestively before you gorge yourself.
Good luck on your morel hunt! It's such a thrill to find them!