Yellow rabbit ear fungi resemble colourful rabbit ears emerging out of the ground.

Winter ‘shrooming to warm the soul

In the Pacific Northwest, several fascinating mushrooms fruit in late fall and throughout the winter

November 2011 resulted in an early blast of winter, but Mother Earth always provides something to warm our souls.

In the Pacific Northwest, several fascinating mushrooms fruit in late fall and throughout winter…surviving even unseasonable snow.

Cup- or saucer-shaped mushrooms, without stalks, resemble colourful ears growing out of the ground. yellow rabbit ears, or rabbit-ear fungi (Otidea leporina), yellowish-brown, tend to be elongated in shape – like rabbit ears, thus the name.

Another local ‘cup’, the unmistakable orange peel fungi (Aleuria aurantia) grows in hard-packed gravel alongside the Canyon View Trail and looks like discarded orange peel.

If you find a cup fungus, simply blow gently over the top, and a puff of spore ‘dust’ will appear, as the change in air pressure is sufficient to disperse the tiny reproductive particles.

Winter excitement, fungus-wise, for both nature lovers and gourmands, often appears in the form of the widespread late fall oyster mushroom (aka tree oyster), a meaty edible now found on many supermarket shelves. This species actually needs a shot of cold to start the fruiting process, and usually grows from the trunk of a rotting tree.

The fruiting body is the only visible part of the fungus, as the thread-like ‘root’ or mycelium, is underground. Mycelium, a network of fine white threads only one cell wide, is present year-round, but the fruiting body appears only when conditions are right.

Locally, another brightly-coloured fungus that loves the cold is the blewit (Clitocybe nuda), a purple to bluish, smooth-capped ‘shroom with a stout stem – and an odour of frozen orange juice concentrate.

Most people walking the woods at this time of year don’t expect to see mushrooms, but it is worth the effort to look for those that fruit late in the season. The wind may blow, and snow may fall, but we can weather the storm. We’ve got some ‘shrooms to keep us warm.

Recommended reading: A field guide to edible mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest by Harbour Publishing. $7.95. A plasticized fold-out pocket guide with full-colour photographs of our flavourful fungi…and dangerous delicacies.

 

E-mail Christine at: wildernesswest@shaw.ca.

Just Posted

Campbell River thrift store robbed at knifepoint, say RCMP

Suspect fled on bicycle following Tuesday stick-up

UPDATE: Campbell River RCMP arrest second person in arson investigation

Police say suspects identified, house fire on Henderson Avenue ‘not random’

Shrapnel narrowly missed firefighters in ‘suspicious’ Campbell River house fire

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

RCMP stepping up summer patrols in Campbell River and area lakes

Traffic patrols increasing after 32 alcohol-related incidents during 2018 Canada Day weekend

UPDATE: Fire in abandoned Campbell River house deemed suspicious

Reports of homeless people using vacant home at 666 8th Ave.

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

Every situation is different, jurors hear at coroners inquest into Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Pediatrician says involuntary treatment necessary following overdose, opioid use

Nanaimo man gets jail time for posting explicit photos of ex-girlfriends

Man’s name cannot be revealed to protect victims’ identities

RCMP across Canada to soon unionize, according to B.C. mayor

A spokeswoman for RCMP headquarters in Ottawa says it’s not yet a done deal

Explicit sex-ed guide for adults mistakenly given to Creston elementary students

The booklet clearly states online and inside that the guide contains sexually explicit information

Driver has $240K McLaren impounded minutes after buying it in West Vancouver

Officers clocked the car travelling at 160 km/h along Highway 1 in a 90 km/h zone

Former Vernon Judo coach pleads guilty to child pornography charges

Bryan Jeffrey McLachlan is set to return to court Sept. 4 for sentencing

B.C. Olympic skier sues Alpine Canada after coach’s sex offences

Bertrand Charest was convicted in 2017 on 37 charges

Most Read