Mushroom season in B.C: 5 types you should know

It's mushroom season in British Columbia, and the fungi in the province range from delicious to poisonous.

Get to know mushrooms by their look as well as their smell, suggests Andy MacKinnon

Mushrooms come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The smell of the mushroom can be very important to identify it. (JIANG HONGYAN/Shutterstock)

It's mushroom season in British Columbia, and the fungi in the province range from delicious to poisonous.

"When trying to learn about them and identify them, know how they look," said Andy MacKinnon, member of the South Vancouver Island Mycological Association.  

"For a lot of them, smell is very important. For some groups, taste is very important." 

MacKinnon will be one of the speakers at the annual Mushroom Show in Victoria, B.C., which takes place on Sunday.

He suggests going out with someone who knows what they're doing, and getting a guidebook to the world of mushrooms. 

Here are the five mushrooms he thinks British Columbians should know about. 

Hedgehog mushrooms

Hydnum repandum
Edible
This mushroom has little teeth hanging from its undersides instead of gills. It has a pleasant smell and a spicy or bitter taste. 

Fly agaric mushrooms

Amanita muscaria
Not edible 
The caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland sits atop a similar type of mushroom. In some populations it's a hallucinogen, but most of the ones in B.C. are not. 

The caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland sits atop a similar type of mushroom. (Madeline Green/CBC)

Poisonous mushroom

Cortinarius mushroom
Not edible
Includes over 2,000 species. 

Pine mushrooms

Matsutake mushroom
Edible
They have a very distinctive smell — a mix of cinnamon hearts and smelly socks. 

Hawks wing mushrooms

Sarcodon imbricatus
Edible
These are best to pick when they are young — they have a neat smokey taste. But as they get older, they get tougher and more bitter. They also have teeth on the underside instead of gills. 

The  Mushroom Show at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary in Victoria takes place on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. PT. Admission is by donation.


To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Mushroom season is here, but be careful what you pick on CBC's On The Island.