Mushrooms are an essential part of the forest ecosystem. They provide
food for animals and even help plants grow. Pickers are encouraged to
tread carefully, leave over-mature mushrooms behind and not pick in
rare ecosystems and forest reserves. It is illegal to pick mushrooms
in provincial parks. (See "Where can I pick mushrooms?" below.)
Mushrooms are the "fruit" of a fungus that lives unseen in
the soil or duff on the forest floor and in living or dead trees. This
unseen portion of a fungus is a root-like network called a mycelium.
For many mushrooms, 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 favourable
weather conditions, the fungus will produce a crop each year.
Where can I pick mushrooms?
Mushroom picking is an unregulated activity. It is permitted on provincial
forest land, but illegal in provincial parks. On private land, permission
is required. Note that there may be private land within forest tenures
including tree farm licences and woodlots.
Permission to pick mushrooms is required on:
- leased public land
- private land
- First Nations reserve lands
Mushroom picking is NOT permitted on:
- national or provincial parks
- federal defence lands
- protected areas such as ecological or special reserves
- recreation areas, including Forest Service recreation sites and
More about morels
A link has been observed between wildfires one year and morel mushroom
fruiting the following spring. There may also be a link between morels
and extensive tree mortality from insect epidemics (for example, the
mountain pine beetle).
Actual morel fruiting depends on various factors, including the weather.
For this reason, it is impossible to forecast the potential productivity
of a burned area for these mushrooms.
Although the taxonomy is still being worked out, there are probably
a number of morel species in B.C. These include true morels: Morchella
elata and Morchella esculenta. There are also the false morel
Gyromitra esculenta and the false early morel Verpa bohemica.
- Poisonous mushrooms grow in B.C. and can cause sickness and even
death if eaten. Anyone picking mushrooms should have the knowledge
and skills to correctly identify them.
- Mushrooms should not be eaten raw.
- Pick or cut the mushrooms one by one. For morels, cut the stem of
the mushroom above the ground. Do not pull or tear them out.
- Do not rake or disturb the forest floor - this will disturb or kill
the mycelium that produces the mushroom.
- Pick only the mushrooms you can use. Broken, overmature or wormy
mushrooms may still be spreading spores.
- Do not remove or disturb the forest floor or moss layers where mushrooms
- Check the identity of the mushrooms with an experienced harvester,
buyer or biologist.
- Care taken today means mushroom crops tomorrow!
Edible Wild Mushrooms in B.C. (Ministry of Forests)
- colour photos, general information, forest protection and safety advice
Mushrooms (Canadian Forest Service, 1995)
- colour pictures, general information
Food Safety Bulletin - Wild mushrooms may be poisonous
(B.C. Centre for Disease Control, 1997)
Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest
- a searchable, online guide to 2,000 mushrooms
forest products of British Columbia: Mushrooms
Note: Contains illustrations and other information