March Musings

March Musings

Well March started off kind of cold and wintery, but boy has it been nice the last week or so!  I hope this means an early spring and early fruiting of the spring time edibles.

Which are those you may ask? Well there are not very many that come so soon after the snows and the cold, but two of my favorites are morels (Morchella elata)

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and  the oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus).


Now don’t get too excited as the pictures of these two delicious examples are from last year.

Last year was an absolutely incredible year for oyster mushrooms as I must have picked 20 pounds or more and they were everywhere I went looking.

However, when it comes to my other “choice” mushrooms, morels, so far, here on the coast  I have found only a total of 6, yes 6 morels in the last three years! They don’t seem to be as common here as they are elsewhere in British Columbia.

A friend who use to pick mushrooms commercially with her husband on Vancouver Island,  tells me of one year when they picked hundreds of pounds of them. I have yest to meet someone here on the Sunshine coast that has ever found that many.

When I was  young and growing up in Saskatchewan, my father and I use to pick many pails full of them. There never seemed to be a lack of them.

The black morel is also known as the fire morel. Often there are huge flushes of morels in areas the year after a forest fire.  From my reading about this species, morels are one of the pioneer fungi that go in and start the process of remediation of the debris left over after a fire.   They also like a soil that is less acidic, which soils after a burn tend to be.

Another friend  found morels growing around her fire-pit last year were they had never grown before.  The story is that one of her friends, who is an avid mushroomer, took some of morels that were too old to eat or dry, blended them up in some water and inoculated the fire-pit.  Walla….morels growing the next springs in the ashes of last year’s bond fires. I will talk more about this “inoculation” process in a future post.

Back on track now as to what I am finding out there this month.  So far the sightings of soft bodied fungi have been few and far between, though the hardier polypores are there in great numbers.

Here are a couple of examples of the very common turkey tail or Trametes versicolor…

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My other find this month was a number of old but beautiful Ganoderma tsugae (varnish conk;cedar lacquer fungus;glossy ganoderma) which many mycologists are now thinking may be part of the Ganoderma lucidum complex which is the Reishi mushroom of renown healing properties.

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I intend to return to this log next fall to see if I can find some fresh examples. This fungus only grows on the trunks of hemlock, western larch and occasionally Douglas fir in the mountains of British Columbia and down the coast.

Robert Rogers when visiting last fall talked about a craft brewery in Teluride that decided to brew an ale that used the Ganoderm tsugae instead of the usual hops as the bittering agent specially for the mushroom festival.  From Roberts report, it was very well received by people.

I may take a group down to this area this spring and fall as the habitat looked very promising for the ploypores as well as other species. There is a good mix of deciduous, especially standing dead alder and a lot of wind broken limbs on the damp forest floor. These are all good signs that this may be prime oyster mushroom territory.

One other find on that walk was the Golden Jelly Cone (Guepiniopsis alpina)..


My next post will be a review of my most recent purchase, which is hand-held GPS unit.  I was vacillating between a new and better camera or a GPS unit.  I had been watching the fliers for sales for the last year or so, doing my on-line reviews of the different products out there as well as comparing price and value.

I finally did the deed and bought a Magellan eXplorist 310.  Why you ask? Primarily price ( less than $150) and also my plan is to use it to mark my finds with way-points , as well as help me get out of the bush safely. I may even go a bit deeper into the woods now, seeing as I have a way to retrace my track back to where I left my truck. But more of that later.

There is still almost two weeks left in March, so I am hopeful that there will begin to be an explosion of diversity in the fungi  kingdom in the coming weeks.

Get out there and start looking.  Hope to see you on the trail some day soon.