22. Morchella esculenta, Linn.—Common Morell.
This fungus is sold at the Indian warehouses, and at Covent Garden Market, in the dried and shrivelled state; and though a native of this country, is usually imported from the Continent. In the fresh state it is from 2 to 5 inches high, and hollow (see Fig. 189). The stem is white, from 1 to 3 inches long, ½ to 1 inch in diameter. The pileus, which is confluent with the stem, varies in size from that of a pigeon's egg to that of a swan's egg; is deeply pitted or formed in irregular areolae, divided by anastomosing ribs, and varies in colour from a pale yellowish brown to olivaceous and smoke gray. The hymenium covers the whole pileus. The thecae usually contain five globular spores.
The Morell is a highly-esteemed luxury at table. It usually enters into ragouts or other dishes; but is sometimes cooked by itself, being either stewed, or stuffed and dressed between thin slices of bacon. Though considered to possess nutritive qualities, it is employed at the table as a flavouring ingredient. Virey [Bull. de. Pharm. t. v. p. 201, 1813.] enumerates it among aphrodisiacs.