The commercial harvesting of edible wild mushrooms from British
Columbia's forests is increasing. Four species are particularly
popular. The pine mushroom (Tricholoma magnivelare) is exported
to Japan while morels (Morchella elata) and chanterelles
(Cantharellus cibarius) are being sent to European destinations. Other
edible species are harvested in minor amounts.
As this industry grows and the activity in the forest builds, the British Columbia Forest Service wants to ensure the mushroom resource is protected. Through this brochure the Forest Service wants to promote wise harvesting techniques to protect the sites where mushrooms grow.
The Forest Service also wants to protect the forest resource and promote the safety of the mushroom pickers in our forests and on forest roads.
How mushrooms grow
Mushrooms are the "fruit" of a fungus that lives unseen in the soil or duff on the forest floor. This underground portion of a fungus is a root-like network called a mycelium. Often this mycelium is interconnected with the roots of a living tree. The mycelium annually produces spore-bearing bodies, the mushrooms. The spores produced by the mushrooms germinate in the soil when conditions are right and establish new mycelia in the forest.
When you harvest mushrooms, it is important that you do not harm the mycelium that produces the mushroom. Undamaged, and with favorable weather conditions, the fungus will produce a crop each year.
Fungi and forests - they go together
Three types of fungi live in B.C.'s forests:
Saprophytic fungi break down (rot) dead plants. These fungi are necessary to recycle nutrients in the forest. The morels are thought to be saprophytic fungi.
Parasitic fungi attack live plants causing disease and death of forest organisms.
Mycorrhizal fungi coexist with forest trees. The fungal mycelium, together with the tree roots, forms a mycorrhiza (fungus-root). This network of roots and mycelium increases the surface area through which trees can take up water and nutrients. The mycelium in turn gets nutrition from the tree. Both the trees and the fungi depend upon this partnership for survival. The chanterelle is an example of mycorrhizal fungi. The pine mushroom is suspected to be mycorrhizal, but further study is required to confirm this.
Harvesting wild mushrooms
Mushrooms have been harvested from forests in Europe and Asia for centuries and are still annual crops.
By using proper harvest techniques, you can get the best possible recovery of mushrooms year after year; you can protect the fungus, which produces the mushroom; and, you can protect the site on which it grows.
Mushrooms are a renewable resource. Care taken on mushroom sites today means mushroom crops tomorrow!
Any inexperienced collector of mushrooms should consult more than one of the many fine mushroom field guides available to compare species descriptions and contrast with potentially dangerous look alike species.
First-time mushroom collectors should do go with an experienced person, especially when planning to eat what they gather.
Too many forest fires in British Columbia are started by human carelessness.
A discarded match, a burning cigarette butt, or an escaped campfire can cause costly fires which consume thousands of hectares of forest each year.
During the frequent periods of hot, dry weather in British Columbia, the forest fire danger can become very high. At such times it may become essential to impose restrictions on travel, burning, and other activities, including mushroom harvesting in forested areas. Commercial harvesters must comply with industrial forest fire regulations. Check with the local British Columbia Forest Service district office for details.
When traveling to, from, or in the forest always:
If you spot a forest fire, dial l-800-663-5555. This is a special TOLL FREE provincial forest fire emergency number.
Access to mushroom picking areas
Before entering any lands to pick mushrooms in British Columbia, be sure of the ownership of the land and your right to pick mushrooms from that land .
|Provincial Forest Lands||Mushroom picking permitted|
Tree Farm Licences
Leased Crown Land
|Mushroom picking requires permission|
(updated October 2015)|
Ecological or Special Reserves
|Mushroom picking not permitted|
Personal safety in the forest
If you go to the forest to pick mushrooms, be prepared for changes in weather, rough terrain and uneven footings, dense brush and the wildlife you could meet.
Know how to read maps and use a compass to ensure that when you enter the forest to pick mushrooms, you can safely return to your campsite or vehicle. Accurate maps or aerial photographs are available for a fee. Every mushroom season is marked by lost mushroom harvesters Search and rescue activities cost taxpayers thousands of dollars each year.
When travelling on active forest roads, be aware of possible hazards, such as wide loads and construction. Check with local forest companies or Forest Service offices to determine the status of roads.
If you plan to pick mushrooms alone in the forest, ensure someone knows your destination, route of travel, and your planned time of return.
If you plan to pick in a group, stay in touch with one another with calls or whistles.
A first aid kit is a good precaution.
Clothing should be appropriate for the weather and temperature. Expect rapid weather changes. Rain pants and a jacket or poncho may prevent a soaking and possible hypothermia.
Wildlife sightings are usually enjoyable. Be aware of the animals in the forest and how to avoid an unpleasant confrontation. Use extreme caution while picking in grizzly bear country.
For more information
Should you have questions regarding access, fire closures, road restrictions, land ownership, or if you wish to obtain a map of an area, contact the British Columbia Forest Service regional or district office nearest to your area of interest.
Should you wish further information about the commercial harvest of wild mushrooms in British Columbia contact:
Home | Harvesting Chart
Ministry of Forests | Forest Practices Branch