Uncover Van’s Mushroom Bounty Nov. 6 at Stanley Park

Edible chanterelle mushroom by Flickr user K3ntFIN

Fungus is among us–lots of it. Macrofungi, a.k.a. mushrooms, thrive in B.C.’s soggy coastal rainforest climate. Seasoned mushroomers know that wild mushroom hunting is an ideal way to combine a forest nature walk with finding a meal that some people would pay oodles for. But finding and identifying edible mushrooms takes savvy, and that’s why you should enroll in a class like the popular “Fungus Among Us: Mushrooms Galore” run by the Stanley Park Ecology Society, 1:30-3:00 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 6.

During the two-hour Stanley Park tour botanist Terry Taylor will cover all aspects of fungal flora for the rookie. Find out how fungi fits into the forest ecosystem and equally important scoop on whether or not toads really do sit on toad stools.

Vancouver's wild mushrooms by Flickr user Photographing Rebecca

There are over 1,600 species of mushrooms currently on record from British Columbia. For mushroom hunters who are after the thrill of the chase, the Pacific Northwest is home to hundreds of additional unrecorded species waiting to catch a hunter’s eye. You can read more about B.C.’s species in U.B.C.’s Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia.

For those of you thinking with your belly, which includes me, fall is mushroom hunting season and three species of local, edible mushrooms are super popular. These are pungent pine mushrooms (Tricholoma magnivelare), richly-flavoured chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) and delicate morels (Morchella elata). While much of B.C.’s 45,000 kilo pine mushroom crop is exported to Japan, and the morels and chanterelles are exported to Europe, there’s a growing number of metro Vancouver enthusiasts looking to fill their plates with foraged delicacies.

Matsutake mushrooms on toast by Flickr user _e.t.

Once you take an intro course, the B.C. Forest Service provides helpful guidelines for wise harvesting techniques that protect the forest environment, as well as places it’s legal to pick in B.C. It’s not legal to pick in national or provincial parks, for example.

Hobbies require support from like-minded peers. If you foresee that you’re likely to join the ranks of zealous foragers, you might want to join the Vancouver Mycological Society. Theses fungi fanatics meet once a month to talk mushrooms. VMS provides info on local species, mushroom photography, edible varieties, recipes and regularly scheduled group forays so you can make sure the mushrooms you pick are safe to eat with the help of an expert.

Swallow Tail Tours also offers a gastronomic forest adventure for mushroom seekers. First you stroll in the forest with a naturalist, who will show you how to identify wild delicacies like chanterelles, honey mushrooms and porcinis. Then Chef Robin will demonstrate how to cook your mushroom bounty to make the flavour shine.

Three easy ways to launch your mushroom hunting hobby

Disclaimer: Many varieties of mushrooms are poisonous so do not pick or eat unless you are trained to recognize which ones are safe.

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