Search
  • Jody Franklin

Shaggy Jack's Guide To Mushroom Foraging Guides

by Shaggy Jack Sunshine Coast Palate #2 Fall/Winter 2021

click on links to purchase guides A Guide To Mushroom Foraging Guides

When foraging for mushrooms, especially as a beginner, it is absolutely essential that you have a good foraging guide to help you accurately identify various species of mushrooms. Here are a few of the best books and websites for the Sunshine Coast.

photo by Maya Bergeron (c)


Common Mushrooms Of The Northwest(Calypso Publishing) is written by local Sunshine Coast biologist and photographer J. Duane Sept, a resident of xwilkway (Halfmoon Bay) who participated for years in SHROOM, the Sunshine Coast Society for the Hunting, Recognition and Observation of Mushrooms. First released in 2006 and revised and updated in 2012, it is fairly up to date in terms of names and descriptions of mushrooms. When I first moved to the Sunshine Coast and started to teach myself how to forage, this book was indispensable in my mycological education and served as my primary mushroom identification resource, and I carried it with me on countless forest excursions. All of the species described in the book can be found on the Sunshine Coast. The photography is excellent: clear and true to colour, accompanied by detailed descriptions of mushroom species. It also has the best price point of any guide on the market at only $14.95. It is the book I recommend most to my students, beginners, and anybody else in the region with an interest in mushrooms. Duane's newest book, co-authored with Robert Rogers, is Medicinal Mushrooms of Western North America (Calypso Publishing), which surveys all of the most common and important medicinal mushrooms encountered in the region while foraging. The mushroom descriptions go into detail about both current medical research and traditional uses of each mushroom, with information about the vital chemicals, vitamins, minerals, nutrients and other medicinal compounds of interest.



All That The Ran Promises and More... (10 Speed Press) by David Arora is perhaps the best-known and most popular mushroom identification guide of all time. With its iconic photo of a grinning trombone player ecstatic about finding a handful of chanterelles, the book serves as an excellent entry point into the world of mushrooming. It bursts with playfulness, imbuing the practice of mushroom foraging with fun and excitement. The numbered lists of the most prominent characteristics of each species makes it easy for beginners to start identifying mushrooms. The only drawbacks that I caution people to be aware of are that the book was published in 1991 and never revised, and it was written by an author from California. As such, some of the species' Latin names, descriptions and edibility ratings are out of date: there are at least three species in the book which are rated as edible, but are now considered toxic due to fatalities that have occurred since it was published. Given that Arora is from California, there are several mushrooms listed in the book that are not found in Coastal British Columbia, which can be confusing for beginners, sometimes contributing to misidentification. Despite these issues, it is a great complementary book to have in your collection. And for a real deep dive into the world of fungi, Arora's 1986 book Mushrooms Demystified describes over 2000 species in western North America, an unparalleled volume of mushroom literature.


Wild Edible Mushrooms of British Columbia (Northern Bushcraft Publishing) by Tom Cervenka, a member of the Vancouver Mycological Society, is an easy to use guide that focuses exclusively the best edible species of our region. I disagree with his assessment on the taste profile of some mushrooms, but that just shows how peoples' tastes may widely vary. His website Northern Bushcraft is arguably even better than his book, featuring numerous photos of each species, as well as information on several edible wild plant species. It has been a go-to website for me for several years now when I need information quickly in a user-friendly format. Mushrooms Of The Northwest (Adventure Publications) by Teresa Marrone & Drew Parker is a handy pocket-sized reference guide that is easy to carry when foraging, and features concise descriptions and colour photographs of commonly encountered species. Mushrooms Of The Pacific Northwest (Timber Press) by Steve Trudell & Joe Ammirati is not suitable for identification in the field, but provides invaluable scientific information, so it is an excellent reference to have on your shelf. As of press time, a new guide was about to be released, Mushrooms Of British Columbia (Royal BC Museum) by Andy MacKinnon and Kem Luther. Coming in at nearly 500 pages, it promises to be the most detailed guide to mushrooms that has ever been published in the province.


Mushrooms Up! is a website maintained by mycologists at the University of British Columbia, and, while it has a limited number of species described, it is perhaps the most up to date scientific resource on several species of common mushrooms in Coastal BC. E-Flora: The Electronic Atlas of The Flora of British Columbia features the section “Macrofungi of British Columbia,” which has an exhaustive and mostly complete catalogue of mushrooms found in the province. The Victoria-based South Vancouver Island Mycological Society and the Vancouver Mycological Society both have websites that are chock-full of valuable information and resources for Coastal mushroom hunters. With more than 100,000 members, the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Identification Forum on Facebook is the best spot for quickly crowd-sourcing positive identifications for mushrooms, although arguments occasionally break out, given the fact that the forum draws foragers of varying skill levels. The BC Lower Mainland Mushroom Enthusiasts Facebook group is a great discussion forum for folks in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Squamish-Whistler regions. Shaggy Jack teaches the popular Wild Mushroom Foragers For Beginners class out of Gibsons, BC.