Morel mushrooms (morchella sp.) are a prized delicacy wherever they can be found in the world’s temperate zone. Among English speakers they go by a variety of names, related to their appearance and habitat, such as Honeycombs, Dryland Fish, and Orchard mushrooms. Only in Central Appalachia are they referred to as “molly moochers.” This article explores the relationship of molly moochers to the idea and practice of the community forest. The community forest exemplifies Gregory Bateson’s notion of the thinking system, which is the organism plus its environment, as the minimal unit required for any organism’s survival. Viewed in isolation from human communities, forests are in part the expression of mycorrhizal associations (from the Greek mykes meaning fungus and rhiza meaning root). Viewed as a medium for and expression of community life, the community forest becomes in part the expression of homomycorrhizal associations. The intelligence circulating through the community forest implicates memory and the senses in a deep aesthetic ecology. This aesthetic ecology forms the context for the renewal of the community forest through such annual events as the springtime hunt for molly moochers.

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