Mushroaming in the Pacific Northwest

Mushroom enthusiasts gathered in Madeira Park to celebrate the Fourth Annual Sunshine Coast Mushroom Festival

Credit: Carol Pope

It was a mushroom lover’s dream at this year’s festival

The Sunshine Coast Mushroom Festival is a mushroamer’s paradise

For those with a taste for foraging, mushroaming is the ultimate epicurean expedition.

Over this past weekend mushroomers from far and near gathered in Madeira Park for the Fourth Annual Sunshine Coast Mushroom Festival, with presentations and fungal forays led by renowned mycologist and environmental consultant Daniel Winkler. 

Celebrating the bounty of the Pacific Northwest rainforest, mushrooms edible and not were displayed – from woolly and white chanterelles to the spreading hedgehog to coral and giant cauliflower mushrooms to Phaeolus schweinitzii (dyer’s polypore), used to colour yarns.

As my first step toward becoming a mushroamer, for a little less than eight dollars, I picked up Winkler’s excellent Field Guide to Edible Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest, a carry-anywhere guide that I plan to stuff into my back pocket now for all of my forest rambles.

With clear photos and descriptions of what to eat and what to not to eat – plus, what edibles have deadly lookalikes – this booklet takes much of the mystery out of mushrooming. That said, the author strongly advises that “novice mushroom gatherers confirm their identification with an expert,” and recommends joining one of the dozen or so mycological societies and clubs in the Pacific Northwest, such as Shroom, with “experienced mushroom identifiers.” 

Delicious but sometimes deadly, this is one pursuit where it’s imperative to put a little membership money where your mouth is, and ensure that you have an expert’s okay prior to tucking into your pick of the day.