This large, attractive, false morel, Gyromitra
caroliniana, was photographed on my mother's farm several years ago.
I have not encountered this species since, although it is not uncommon.
It fruits under hardwoods in April before the first morels appear, and
can be larger than a person's head.
In Kansas it may be called the Beefsteak, in
Missouri it is frequently referred to as "Big Red." Most mycological
texts caution against eating this mushroom because of the possibility of
it containing gyromitrin, but recent studies have shown that, in the specimens
checked, it is not a danger. It is widely consumed, especially in
Missouri, and there has been no recorded instance of poisoning from it.
However, it can not be recommended at this time.