Foraging Journal 2022

Mid-Island Mushroom Festival - October 2022

Mid Island Mushroom Festivall 2022 poster

Near the end of October I paid a short visit to the Mid-Island Mushroom Festival in Coombs. This is a great event for picking up various mushroom-related products, from reference books to grow-kits, gifts and wild-harvested mushrooms. As usual, there was also a selection of collected and identified specimens out for display. This is a great opportunity for getting hands on (literally!) experience with a variety of mushrooms all in one place. Also, the event is in Coombs, which has a bunch of other cool places to check out.

Closeup shot of lichens
Box of black chanterelles

Above: Black chanterelles

Vancouver Island mosses with labels

Above: A display box of identified moss species

White Chanterelles on Vancouver Island - September 2022

White chanterelle cap

Above: White chanterelle - Cantharellus subalbidus

White chanterelle mushrooms under moss

White chanterelles do better in dryer weather, but are harder to find under the moss.

Velvet-footed Pax (Tapinella atrotomentosa) tree mushroom

Above: Velvet-footed Pax - Tapinella atrotomentosa

I did some late summer/early fall mushroom hunting around Nanaimo recently. The forest looked dry and bare at first but after some careful searching, we found a decent haul of chanterelles. The golden ones were struggling with the dry weather, but we found a few (see right). The white chanterelles do much better in dryer weather but they tend to hide under the moss. In the end I got enough to cook and pickle a few jars full.

Two cut golden chanterelle mushrooms on a log

Nanaimo Lobsters - Late Summer Mushroom Hunting - August 2022

After a decent spring season, summer turned out to be a little un-eventful.

Although I went out quite a few times searching for lobsters and prince mushrooms, I struggled to find them, even in spots where I had found many in previous years.

In the end, all I found were a handful of small, sad-looking lobster mushrooms (see left) and some blackberries. But even the blackberries were inconsistent. I saw many stands that had flowers next to unripe berries next to ripe ones...all on the same bush. Something got them all confused and it was difficult finding good numbers of sweet ripe berries.

Anyway...summer is almost over and we should be looking forward to what's next: chanterelles.

Late Spring Flowers & Mushrooms - June 2022

Panther cap mushroom Amanita pantherinoides

Here's a collection of a few finds over the past month or so.

Mostly I've been looking out for flowers and trying to identify those, but there have been some good mushroom finds as well. To the left is a Amanita pantherinoides, a toxic member of the same family as Fly Agarics (the red one with the spots). The "oides" on the end of the name is to indicate this the species we have here in the PNW are "like" Amanita panterina identified in other parts of the world.

Below are some flowers and other mushrooms with appropriate labels to the best of my knowledge/identification skills.

Oyster mushrooms are definitely popping right now. I've recorded some footage and written some stuff about them and want to produce a video, so keep an eye on the (long dormant) YouTube channel for that.

Chocolate lily - Fritillaria affinis

Camas - Camassia quamash

Large flush of oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms on a fallen log

Morel growing in landscaping mulch

Visiting the Cheewhat Giant, Canada's Biggest Tree - May 2022

Trunk and canopy of the Cheewhat Giant, Canada's biggest tree

Early in May I drove out to the west coast in search of Canada's biggest tree, The Cheewhat Giant. According to the BC Big Tree Registry, The Cheewhat Giant is around 55 metres tall with a trunk that's almost 6 metres wide. Not only does this make it Canada's "biggest tree", but also the largest Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata) in the world.

Vancouver Island is home to a number of record-holding trees, particularly around the Port Renfrew area. You can read more about them here.

I was surprised at how little development or infrastructure there was around The Cheewhat Giant. You can find it off a remote forest service road, with no markings and almost no trailhead to speak of. Nevertheless, while I was there, at least 4 parties came through looking for it. With that kind of popularity you'd think someone would use the opportunity to promote local tourism AND generate awareness about protecting our old growth forests.

I also fear that with continued foot traffc around the tree and no boardwalk or trail development, the area around The Cheewhat Giant will erode away and eventually damage the tree.

Still, a great adventure and a sight I'll never forget!

Cheewhat Giant, Canada's biggest tree
Road to the Cheewhat Giant trail and trailhead

Good luck finding the trailhead! I did only because there were other cars there.

Cheewhat Giant, location on map

The tree is around 30 minutes from the road over fairly rough trail.

Spring Flowers & Fiddleheads - Nanaimo Area - April 2022

Another brief foray into the forests south of Nanaimo. No morels this time but still a lot of beautiful flowers and some fiddle heads getting ready to unfurl.

Slender Toothwort

A Lady Fern fiddlehead

Stream Violet / Yellow Wood Violet

Vancouver Island Morels - Nanaimo BC - April 2022

Yeah! We found some morels this past weekend.

I've been seeing posts of them popping up all over the island lately, so I was feeling good heading out to a general area near Nanaimo where I knew they had been found before. And sure enough, with some help, I managed to find a few.

These morels were growing on an east-facing slope near the shore, on relatively open and moss-covered ground with young Douglas fir trees overhead. The dark morels appeared in little patches about 3-4 meters in diameter while the blonde morels were completely isolated.

There were also many Calypso Orchids in the area, which are considered an indicator species. I believe that a flowering Calypso Orchid is both a habitat AND seasonal indicator, although I'm not sure.

Anyway, it's official, the morels are out. These ones were still quite young so there should me more maturing and on the way in many locations. Just keep looking and good luck!

Read our morel guide to learn more about these elusive and sought-after mushrooms.

Small brown morel growing in a forest

A small dark forest morel. Growing in a small patch.

Small pale morel growing out of moss

Blonde morel. These tend to be relatively solitary in my experience.

Pink calypso orchid flower

Calypso or Fairy Slipper Orchid

Fawn or easter lily flower

Fawn or Easter Lily

Early Spring Flowers on Vancouver Island - Ladysmith BC - April 2022

ossoberry flower

Osoberry Flower

trillium flower

Western Trillium

grape hyacinth flower

Grape Hyacinth

pacific bleeding heart flower

Pacific Bleeding Heart

western dog violet flower

Western Dog Violet

Foraging Horsetail Stems - Qualicum Beach BC - Early April 2022

Spring is finally that means some early forest greens are popping up. This year, I've decided to give horsetails a try. The first step in foraging horsetails is learning to identify between the two types of stem: Fertile and infertile.

While the infertile green stems (left, below) have some uses, they're not generally considered good for eating, so I harvested some of the fertile stems instead. As you can see in the picture on the right below, fertile stems have a "bud" at the top. Avoid them once the buds emerge and turn tan or brown.

Apparently, after peeling off the dark brown coverings on each node, you can just eat them raw, although I haven't tried this yet. I opted instead to clean and fry them up in some butter (see pics further down). Just don't try eating the buds like I did - just the stems!

Infertile, green, or vegetative stems

Fertile stems ✔️

Harvested horsetail stems

Cleaned horsetail stems

Cooking horsetail stems

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