Foraging Journal 2022

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 here...so 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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