Hunting mushrooms with the masses

Second annual search to identify and count species in Metchosin

Moralea Milne

Amateur mycologists and nature lovers will soon don their gumboots and woollies and dive into the Metchosin wilderness in search of as many mushrooms as they can find.

The Myco-Blitz, set for Saturday, Nov. 8, is a spin-off of Metchosin’s annual Bio-Blitz, which counts as many species as possible – plant, animal and insect – over one day in the spring.

The Myco-Blitz was started to take advantage of the abundance of the fungi that emerge in the fall, as a lot of species aren’t around in the spring when the main counting occurred. Last year’s inaugural mushroom hunt yielded about 200 different species over the course of a single day, said Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne, with nearly 80 people joining in on the search.

“Mushrooms are very popular,” she said. “The most common question is ‘Can I eat that?’”

Milne co-founded the Talk and Walk series and the spring Bio-Blitz event with Andy MacKinnon and Kem Luther. She said the outdoor adventures “increase the stewardship ethic in Metchosin.”

“The more people understand about the wild species, the more people want to protect them.”

The Bio-Blitz has helped identify 1,600 species across the animal and plant kingdoms over the past four years, Milne added. “It’s a bit of a new way to think about our wild neighbours,” she said of the incredible abundance found in Metchosin.

To further fungal education, renowned mycologist Britt Bunyard will be giving a talk on the Friday previous (Nov. 7), beginning at 6 p.m. in the council chambers of the Metchosin Municipal Hall.

Bunyard, editor and publisher of Fungi Magazine, will share bizarre tales and stunning images of mushrooms and other fungi.

Everyone with an interest in fungi is welcome to join the Myco-Blitz, as no experience or mushroom expertise is necessary, Milne said.

The group will meet at 10 a.m. Nov. 8, in the parking lot in front of the municipal hall. For more information, visit metchosinbiodiversity.com.

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com