The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

by Michael Pollan

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Why are morels easier to find after forest fires?

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Morels, a kind of mushroom, are generally hard to find, but they tend to appear the year after a forest fire in conifers in the western United States. According to a blog post in Scientific American (see the link below), no one really knows why these types of morels, referred to colloquially as "burn morels," are more plentiful after forest fires. According to the blog post below, there are several theories about why morels grow after a forest fire. The fire might result in the loss of needle duff that prevents the growth of morels, or the fire might result in a change in soil pH or chemistry that is beneficial for the growth of morels. Fires might result in less competition from other organisms or in the availability of more minerals in the soil, from burned trees. The loss of food might also cause the burn morels to flower. Native Americans knew that forest fires brought about a crop of morels and may have deliberately set fires to encourage the morels' growth.

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