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Discovery Creates Opportunity for Anyone to Grow Sought-After Morel Mushroom

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Biologist-Inventor Introduces American Elm Trees That Grow Morels Using Patented Process

Lafayette, IN -- Stewart C. Miller, a former biology teacher turned inventor, has done his homework when it comes to morel mushrooms, a culinary delicacy. And his work is bearing fruit - not only for himself, but for people like him who want to grow their own morels.

Miller has been studying the relationship between morels - also known as sponge mushrooms - and elm, apple and ash trees since 1992. After years of experimentation, he was awarded US Patent Number 6,907,691 B2 in June 2005 for his morel cultivation process.

At his Morel Farms, which consist of three different parcels of land, including a 45-acre tract near Lafayette, Indiana, Miller is growing a combined total of 2,000 apple, 3,000 ash and 5,000 elm trees. The morel mushroom harvest begins in April or May, depending on climate and region. In a test-plot last fall he planted 1,200 elm trees - inoculated with his patented morel fungus - in an open, well-drained and fertile acre of land. "In seven years, according to our projections," said Miller, "each tree will produce approximately five morels for a total of 6,000 morels. Total income for the project would be approximately $7,500.

"If you divide $7,500 by seven years," said Miller, "the resulting income would be projected at $1,071 per acre. This and other forms of research will verify our predictions of morel production and morel farming as a viable crop after considering all expenses."

The average person, however, doesn't need 45 acres or 1,200 trees to begin growing morel mushrooms. All that's needed is a little bit of land - and at least one of Miller's specially inoculated elm trees.

So how does the morel mushroom ordinarily form in nature? Miller coined the term "symbiotic disruption" to explain this event. A suffering or dying tree stimulates the morel fungus inside the root system, causing it to withdraw. Hardened nodules called "sclerotia" form below the ground, then with sufficient water and warmth in the spring, these sclerotia swell and form a morel mushroom.

An avid morel hunter since childhood, Miller explains that growing morels eliminates the guesswork in judging whether wild morels are safe.

Anyone interested in raising morels can purchase disease-resistant American elm trees super-inoculated with the morel fungus at The trees arrive with instructions on planting, care and how to stimulate morel production.

Photo of cultivated morel:

Contact: Stewart C. Miller, LLC,, 1-800-552-6550, ext. 224.

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