Fungus flourishing this season

  • Sep. 23, 2009 5:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay-It’s the best mushroom season in four years, says Betty Foot of Sandspit. “There’s a big, big crop out there this year. with lots of nice sized ones and babies coming too,” she said of the abundant number of chanterelles in the forests near Skidegate Lake. Ms Foot, who has been in the mushroom business for at least 30 years (when her company Madame Mushroom started shipping to Europe), said there have been lots of buyers on Moresby Island too. When we talked with her on Sept. 18, the price was hovering around $2 to $2.50 a pound and the only hold-up in getting the fresh crops out of here and into high-end markets and restaurants is cargo space, she said. There used be a 737 operating out of Sandspit, but cargo space is limited now on the Dash-8. On Graham Island, the only mushroom buyer has been the Haida Gwaii Local Food Processing Co-op in Queen Charlotte. General manager Lynda Dixon said it’s been frustrating for pickers because it’s been such a good year. But the co-op is new to fresh mushroom sales, with all of its transportation and sorting challenges. Ms Dixon said they had to limit buying to members only and then shut down on Sept. 18 for a time because their cooler was stuffed to the gills. In other mushroom news, “beware of the Jack O’Lantern mushroom,” advises Lana Wilhelm, a local registered professional forester and mushroom enthusiast. Although these bright orange fungi look somewhat like the sought-after chanterelles, in fact they are poisonous. “They can make you sick digestively,” she said. Jack O’Lanterns, which grow in clumps on rotting wood, can induce painful stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. She said a lot of beginner pickers mistake them for the choice and tasty golden chanterelle, which grow singly on the forest floor. Another one that fools beginners is the false chanterelle. A cool mushroom to look out for is the blue chanterelle, she said. She said a lot of mushroom buyers would purchase them, but they are very rare, so keep that in mind. “Don’t pick it out.” Ms Foot said buyers are paying $8 a pound for the blues, which her partner Kenny has called the Queen’s mushroom ever since he was asked to pick them for her plate when she visited the islands. Ms Foot said they also picked them for Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. Although some pickers have been concerned about potential logging slated for prime picking areas, Ms Foot has a different perspective on the second-growth habitat that is providing thousands of mushrooms this year. “They’re there because the [forests] have been logged in the first place,” she said. In fact, the old skidder trails are often where the best patches are found. Ms Foot said no logging has been taking place around Skidegate Lake this year that she’s aware of, but added that pickers will never harvest all the mushrooms that are out there anyway.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Carsen Gray set to launch first children’s book co-created with mom Lynn Hughan

Gray, Hughan launch ‘Twelve Months of Fun on Haida Gwaii with Mattie and Jojo’ on July 23

Federal government urged to protect rare moss clinging to life on Moresby Island cliff

Scientists say small patch of slender yoke-moss struggling to survive on square metre of limestone

Southern section of QC Main temporarily closing this month

QC Main (South) will be closed to all traffic at about 5 kilometres from July 21 to 28

From the archives of the Haida Gwaii Observer

50 YEARS AGO (1970): Nine of 12 entries in the Beach Buggy… Continue reading

BC Ferries reopens limited hot food service between Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert

Release on July 8 says hot food will be served in packaging

VIDEO: Masset Dance Troupe presents beachfront ‘promenade performance’

Troupe performed ‘A Mid Summer Day’s Dream’ for family, friends on July 4 and 5

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read