Vernon and North Okanagan
The Okanagan's fungi frenzy
Oct 3, 2013 / 4:30 pm
Puff balls, chanterelles and turkey tails. This is to be the best mushrooms season anyone can remember.
The gradually dropping temperatures, light rain mixed with the periodic dry spell at the end of August made the recipe for the fungi frenzy.
Roseanne Van Ee operates 'wild mushroom safari' tours as part of her outdoor discoveries business and says not only is this the best wild mushroom season every but the Okanagan is the door step to the world's greatest diversity of fungi.
"This is just the beginning, the season is just starting. The next few weeks will get better and better (for foraging wild mushrooms) as we continue with cooler temperatures until we get a hard freeze."
However as word spreads about the terrific season, more people will be venturing out into the wilderness in search of mushrooms which concerns Van Ee.
"You have to know what you're looking at, this is the wilderness. It is quite different from Europe. In Europe things are much more regulated, you don't just go out into the wilderness you go where your family has gone for generations, where you've been given the precautions and told of the look-a-likes. Plus you can take your mushrooms to the pharmacy to be doubled checked and we don't have that here."
As an example of a common mistake among mushroom pickers Van Ee uses the honey mushroom which, when grown in the Okanagan, is a choice edible but if grown near Hemlocks in the Kootaneys they can be indigestible due to the relationship between the hemlock root and the spore.
Van Ee takes those interested in mushrooms out on eco-tours, around the Mabel Lake and Lumby areas where she educates them on harvesting and the effect mushroom picking has on the environment.
She is concerned there are many people who are unaware of their surroundings when foraging.
"People are just running around stomping all over everything in the forest, not even caring or knowing what good the mushrooms are. They can also be picked unsustainably to the point we don't have certain species anymore."
A solution to the unattainable harvest of mushrooms is to grow your own, and Van Ee hopes she can soon run a workshop for those who are interested in giving it a try.
"There is a variety of wild types of mushrooms that we can grow in our yards or sheds or whatever and enjoy those ourselves."
To book your wild mushroom safari contact Van Ee.
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