Little did I know that hunting and foraging for mushrooms is much like beach combing for sea glass. Eyes down, scouring the landscape that’s spotted with colourful distractions — whether they be pebbles and shells, or nuts and leaves. One man who knows a whole lot about both popular Pacific Northwest activities is J Duane Sept, who has authored dozens of books on both subjects.
I met up with Duane, who is also an organizer of the Sunshine Coast Mushroom Festival, at the Botanical Gardens in Sechelt on a bright and sunny September day. While we didn’t have too much luck finding mushrooms, I learned a whole lot about the process and that mushroom photowalks can be very fun!
CAUTION: It is not recommended that you touch, pick, or eat ANY mushroom or fungi you find in the forest unless you are with a trained professional who can make proper identifications with absolute certainty. Learn from the pros at the Sunshine Coast Mushroom Festival October 12-13, 2018.
1. The best place to spot mushrooms and fungi is near old growth in the forest, also preferably at the base of – or on – conifers. At the Botanical Garden there were also mushrooms right in the middle of the path, sprouting up from the bark mulch that had been spread.
2. Moisture is a mushroom’s friend. If it’s been a wet season, expect to see more mushrooms. Early October is the best for mushroom spotting, right around the time of the Sunshine Coast Mushroom Festival. The Sunshine Coast is also an amazing place to spot some of the 30,000 northwest mushroom species, making it a preferred home base for many Mycologists and Biologists like Duane.
3. Some mushrooms thrive May to June. Others, like the tasty Lobster Mushrooms and Golden Chanterelles, pop up July through October. Others like the Shaggy Mane, pop up May to June and again September to November.
4. There are three types of mushrooms: Symbiotic, where a mushroom grows on a tree or plant and each benefit from each other; Parasitic, where a mushroom feeds or lives off of another organism; and Saprophytic, fungal species found in large groups that feed on rotting wood and soil.
5. While some mushrooms may look similar from the top, you can make identifications by looking at their spore prints. When the flip them over, or separate the cap from the stem and stamp the cap on a piece of paper. Some people even create artwork with spore prints. You might find even some during the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl.
6. Not all mushrooms look the same! Some are Gilled, others Fleshy Spored, Spine, Coral, or Jellies. Duane’s book lists them all.
Find Fall Festival Fun
On the Sunshine Coast in autumn you can find Witch’s Butter and apple butter. Wooly Ink Caps and woven tapestries! Here are some of the upcoming events and festivals you can enjoy this season:
If You Go
- Learn more about the awesome fall festivals on the Sunshine Coast here.
- Read about the Sechelt Arts Festival on the FestivalSeekers festival overview page.
- Sunshine Coast Tourism can help make plans.
Tag #SunshineCoastBC and #ZenSeekers on your travels here and you might be featured on their social media channels.