Edible Winter Mushrooms
Late Fall & Winter Mushrooms In British Columbia
The fall season is best for mushroom foraging in British Columbia and it usually ends with the first significant frost. However, you can still find some good edible mushrooms in the colder fall months and even in the winter. As long as there is not persistent snow on the ground, there should be something to find.
Below is a list of a few edible mushrooms that you can find in the late fall and winter months in British Columbia.
Blewit Mushrooms in BC
Above: Two blewits growing in a mulch pile. Note the slight bluish colour and mostly-tan caps.
Variations of the blewit mushrooms are found and consumed across North America and Europe. They are saprobic, growing on lawns, mulch piles, and forest floors.
The most noticeable characteristic is their light bluish-purple colouring. However, these hues fade with age and older specimens may appear more tan or brown.
So, to avoid confusion with any other mushrooms, make sure to look for these characteristics:
Smooth but fibrous stipe
Pale spores (NOT brown)
Smooth cap (has a dense, glassy look)
No veil, ring, or bulb/sac around the base
Blewits have a tendency to retain moisture, so sauté them at a high heat without oil or butter at first, then add moisture as they dry out.
There are three varieties of blewit found in British Columbia. These mushrooms have undergone many reclassifications, resulting in a number of different names.
Sordid Blewit - A more slender variety. Latin names include Lepista sordida, Lepista tarda, Clitocybe sordida, and Clitocybe tarda.
Wood Blewit - Latin names include Lepista nuda, Clitocybe nuda, Tricholoma nudum, and Tricholoma lilaceum.
Field Blewit - Latin names include Lepista saeva, Clitocybe saeva, Tricholoma saevum, and Tricholoma personatum.
Blewits have been variously grouped in a number of genus, including Agaricus, Tricholoma, Rhodopaxillus, and Cortinarius.
Right: Two wood blewits found next to a forest path. I ate these and they were delicious.
Blewits growing in a fairy ring pattern on a lawn.
A less stocky variety of blewit. Note the gill pattern and absence of a veil or ring.
Late-Fall or Winter Oysters
The late fall oyster mushroom is not quite as appetizing as its spring and summer namesake. However, there are some areas where this mushroom is enjoyed.
The texture is more rubbery than normal oyster mushrooms, and some report that the taste is more bitter. In appearance, late fall oysters have slightly yellow gills, and a slimy green-grey cap.
We already have some info on this mushroom in our oyster mushroom guide, so check that out here.
Mushroom guide books refer to this mushroom as both Panellus serotinus and Sarcomyxa serotina.
Above: Fall oyster mushrooms with shelf-like gills in the rain.
Winter chanterelles (also known as yellow foot chanterelles) start to fruit in abundance once golden chanterelles are on their way out. You can usually find them at the base of trees or next to logs in very damp and well-shaded forests.
The best way to harvest winter chanterelles is with scissors. There are also a few varieties of these around BC and on Vancouver Island, so you might see them in various shapes and shades. However, the important feature to look out for are the chanterelle-esque wrinkles or folds under the cap.
Some small, orange-ish mushrooms have very thick and prominent gills which run part-way down the stipe, and these could confuse beginner foragers. So, make sure to check with a few experts before you eat your first yellow-foot chanterelles.
Other features include a thin hollow stem, and an umbrella-like cap that eventually extends upward into a trumpet shape.
Witch's Butter / Orange Jelly
The various yellow jelly mushrooms in British Columbia are by no means choice edibles. Even though they can be eaten without cooking, they have almost no flavour and a slimy texture that some might find off-putting.
However, the bright colour and relative safety of this mushroom make it an enjoyable find in the duller winter months
All of the mushrooms described here are commonly known as "witch's butter", though the true witch's butter is (arguably) Tremella mesenterica. The main varieties of this mushroom are summarized below:
Tremella mesenterica - Yellow brain fungus. Grows on hardwoods.
Tremella aurantia - Golden ear. Flatter more lobed structures.
Guepiniopsis alpina / Heterotextus alpinus - Golden jelly cones. Forms in many small, distinct cones.
Dacrymyces chrysospermus - Orange jelly. Grows more on conifers and with less defined structure.
These fungi are also some of the first to pop up in the spring.
Above: Orange jelly fungus (probably Dacrymyces chrysospermus), growing from a dead stump.
Mushroom Hunting In Winter
The above list is by no means exhaustive, and will probably be extended in the future. However, before you set out on your winter foraging adventures, be aware that the dangers associated with mushroom hunting increase during the winter months.
This is not due to anything with the mushrooms themselves, but rather the environment, which is the most likely danger to mushroom hunters at any time of year. Slippery logs, icy paths, and risk of exposure all go up during the winter months, so take extra care.
For more information on how to forage for mushrooms safely, make sure to read our safe foraging guide.
And if you're looking for some less-challenging mushrooms for the rest of the year, check out our list of great beginner mushrooms.
Edible Winter Mushrooms In BC
Late Fall Oyster Mushroom
Winter or Yellow-Foot Chanterelle
Witch's Butter or Yellow Jelly Fungus