Vancouver Island Edible Mushrooms
Learn to Identify a Variety of Delicious Local Fungi
Tromping through wet salal while hunting edible fungi is a favorite fall hobby of mine. The forest floor in the Pacific Northwest is a blanket of fungi yumminess when you know where and what to look for.
Warning - eating the wrong mushroom is a painful way to die, be sure to get a good mushroom identification book (see bottom of this page) and use it.
When I decided to take mushroom picking on as a hobby, I figured it would be easy to find a handy list of edible mushroom on Vancouver Island... but there wasn't one! I had to research a half-dozen books and many websites to make a decent list of the edible varieties of mushrooms on Vancouver Island.
Here they are (you better love me): Chanterelle, Sweet Tooth, Morel, Pine, Lobster, King Bolete, Gypsy, Cauliflower Mushroom, Hen of the Woods, Conifer Tuft, Coral Fungus, Chicken of the Woods, meadow mushroom, mica cap ... more coming as I learn.
aka: Cantharellus cibarius
One of the most prized Vancouver Island mushrooms.
Golden Chanterelles are the most popular... but White Chanterelles are often overlooked and left by many foragers -- personally, I think White Chanterelles taste great (they are more watery though). I've yet to see a blue / black Chanterelle, but have been told they are better than the other varieties.
Chanterelles have a distinctive, strong, peppery flavor.
Chicken of the Woods
aka: Sulphur Shelf, Chicken Mushroom, Chicken Fungus,
Bright oranges & yellows...grows on wood, usually in large masses of overlapping shelves.
Regarded as one of the tastiest fungi available on Vancouver Island.
I haven't tried this yet, but am hoping to find one this season. - Update. Found 2 of these this year.
Aka: Hedgehog Mushroom | Dentinum repandum, Hydnum repandum, Hydnum umbilicatum
A great beginner mushroom, because it's easy to identify by it's toothy gill structure.
I discovered these on a forage for Chanterelles in some old 2nd growth forest. The Sweet Tooths look a little like Chanterelles at a glance, but they are of lighter color. Flip them over and you'll know for sure if you found one because they have unique gills which almost appear to hang off the cap.
According to my book, there really are no other mushrooms in the pacific northwest that you could mistake these for, making them a good choice for novice mushroom pickers.
Finding Sweet Tooth mushrooms on Vancouver Island:
I found a patch of 30+ Sweet Tooths once (near Woss), but generally I've found them in groups of less than a dozen. Sometimes they like to chill next to Chanterelles. I noticed they grew at the base of trees (both coniferous and deciduous).
Cooking Sweet Tooth mushrooms:
Mild flavor. I add them the same mushroom dishes as I use chanterelles... Sweet Tooths have a spongy-ish texture.
Hydnum umbilicatum, the sweet tooth mushroom. - Good overview + history.
aka Rozites caperata
A mild-tasting mushroom. I'd say this is more of an intermediate pickers' mushroom. You are going to need more than a photo and description to positively identify this one. See my book list at the end of this article for my recommendations.
Ochre cap 2-6 inches wide, with white bloom. Attached brownish gills. Ring around midstalk. Look for these near Huckleberries and in the same areas as Chanterelles. September - November
Notes: Prone to maggot infestations.
Description in the works.
Aka: Hypholoma capnoides / Smokey Gilled WoodLover / Naematoloma capnoides
The pale gray gills (not green) of the Conifer Tuft, help distinguish it from its poisonous close relative the Sulphur Tuft.
They are found on rotting conifers.
Because this edible can be confused with related poison mushrooms, they are not recommended for novice pickers.
Use a field guide and spore print to be certain.
There are many varieties of Coral Fungus that are edible on Vancouver Island:
White Coral: Ramariopsis kunzei / Clavaria kunzei
Note: Just learned these were edible... I see them all the time (especially the White and Crested Corals).
Will give them a try this season and report back on their flavor. I've read they are mostly tasteless with the exception of "Clustered Coral" -- which is suppose to be very tasty.
White Coral is known to be a mild diarehtic for some people. Eating large amounts of any variety comes with a warning for stomach cramps.
aka: Porcini, Cep, Steinpilz | Boletus edulis
A popular, tasty, prized mushroom. I've heard them described as a "fat hamburger on a stumpy stock".
Prone to maggots.
I still haven't found a porcini in the wild. <- update 2012, found my first and only porcini this last fall.
Don't forget to bookmark this page as I update it with more edible fungus
More Edible Mushrooms:
Mica Cap - Just found and ate some of these, they are great!
Meadow Mushroom - Found on lawns.
Using a variety of sources makes identifying and learning about mushrooms easier, imo. Grab the Audobon Guide to North American Mushrooms (book image below), you'll like it.
Van Isle Mushooms - Guide by my friend Bud. Covers local edible and poisoness fungi.
Edible Mushrooms of BC, Canada -
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