British Columbia·Photos

It's been the 'mushroom season of the century' in northern B.C.

From truffles to toadstools, there seems to be more mushrooms than usual in northern B.C.

From truffles to toadstools, there seems to be more mushrooms than usual in northern B.C.

More than 70 varieties of mushrooms were unearthed in just over an hour at a 'fungi field trip' led by the Prince George Naturalists Club and biologist Hugues Massicotte. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Summer 2019 may have been the "mushroom season of the century" in northern B.C., according to a local expert.

Hugues Massicotte is a mycologist with the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, and he says the variety and volume of fungi growing around the city exceeds anything he's seen in 25 years of research in the community.

"I think it's been an extraordinary year, a peak year," Massicotte said. "This might have been the mushroom season of the century." 

Mushrooms prefer cool, moist and humid growing environments.

Prince George experienced regular rainfall in August, not far off historic levels.

UNBC mycologist Hugues Massicotte and David Breault of the Prince George Naturalists Club attempt to identify mushrooms collected during a 'fungi field trip.' (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

And the average daily temperature of 14.3 C was only slightly cooler that the historic 15 C.

Plenty of people exploring the woods around Prince George have observed an increase in the number of mushrooms in bloom.

"It is certainly the best [mushroom year] that I have seen in 41 years of wandering around the mountains and back country of North Central B.C.," said Mike Nash, an outdoor survival expert and writer.

Massicotte said he's been receiving multiple emails from people asking him to identify unusual mushrooms they've spotted growing in the woods, or even their own backyards.

He estimates there are up to 1,000 different species of mushrooms in the Prince George area, many undocumented, so he plans to test several samples in his lab this autumn in the hopes of making a new discovery.

"Many [mushrooms] have medicinal properties," he said. "First Nations discovered that a long time ago... but at the university we're trying to do more biochemistry."

To hear more from a 'fungi field trip' led by Massicotte, click on the play button.

The CBC's Andrew Kurjata takes a fungi field trip with UNBC mushroom biologist Hugues Massicotte to unearth the fungus among us. 5:06

Fungi photographs from CBC listeners

CBC Daybreak North asked listeners for their photos of mushrooms and other fungi seen over the summer.

A cluster of mushrooms growing on Ferry Island near Terrace, B.C. (Sarah Thomas)
Liesl Wittkopf captured some oyster mushrooms lit by a sunbeam near Fort St. James, B.C. (Liesl Wittkopf)
Andrea Abercrombie found this growing in her yard in Quesnel. (Andrea Abercrombie)
A forest find from Jennifer Bowes in Dawson Creek. (Jennifer Bowes)
Rachel Anne submitted a photo of a 'fungi forest' in the Babine Mountains. (Rachel Anne)
Wildfires in 2018 contributed to a strong crop of morel mushrooms near Hat Lake, in northwestern B.C. (Mirco Muntener)
"Not a mushroom but a konk, so I'm told, but a fungus nevertheless. And it's growing on a stump in our backyard," wrote Brian Burrill of Smithers. (Brian Burrill)

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About the Author

Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and cbc.ca, situated in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George. You can email him at andrew.kurjata@cbc.ca.

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