Mushrooms, mushrooms, everywhere mushrooms

Everywhere we look after the rains of October and November we see mushrooms. Tempted to try some?

According to Michael Beug (Professor Emeritus, Evergreen State College) more than 1600 species of mushrooms have been recorded from BC. “There are hundreds of additional named species found in the Pacific Northwest but not yet recorded from BC that are likely to turn up when people start looking for them. In addition, there are numerous species, probably one to three thousand or more, present in BC but not yet named or still waiting to catch the eye of someone who will recognize the mushroom as new to science. All of this brings the probable number of mushroom species in British Columbia to somewhere on the order of 5,000 species, possibly even 10,000 species…..”

No wonder it’s so difficult to identify the mushrooms we see down to species level, and it’s tempting to leap to conclusions.  The Puget Sound Mycological Society has published a key that helps beginners work through first stages of identification. The author of the key has a warning: “Unless you consult a real field guide after identifying your mushroom here to carefully compare the full description to your specimen, your guess is likely to be wrong. I just don’t give enough detail. You should think of these pages as a way to find some starting points to research further, including edibility of a particular mushroom, which I say little about. For heaven’s sake, do not eat anything based on what you see here or you could kill yourself!

Some other resources that may be useful:

  • MatchMaker, a free Pacific Northwest Mushroom Identification app for the PC and MAC.
  • Keys from the Pacific Northwest Key Council,  a near complete set of keys to our local mushrooms that you can use on-line or download to your computer.
  • All That the Rain Promises and More, by David Arora, a good pocket guide.
  • Mushrooms Demystified,  by David Arora, considered the standard reference for mushroom identification.

Photo above:  likely turkey-tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolour), growing on a tree trunk along the South Swan trail in the Squamish Estuary.