Guide to Start Wild Edible Mushroom Foraging in BC

This wild edible mushroom guide will help you start mushroom hunting. Learn how to find a mushroom spot, how to start foraging, popular edible mushroom identification guide, more mycology resources, how to cook wild mushrooms and essential health and safety tips.

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If you’re starting to foraging wild edible mushrooms in BC, or even considering trying foraging out this year, welcome! Wild edible mushroom foraging is one of my favourite excuses to get outside, learn new things and eat delicious wild food. 

I started harvesting mushrooms later in life as an adult. When I got started, I had a hard time finding trustworthy information that I understood as a complete beginner. My hope is that this guide will help you start mushroom hunting as a safe, confident and responsible forager. Learn how to find a mushroom spot, how to start foraging, identification guide for popular BC edible mushrooms, tips to cook your harvest and essential health and safety information. 

*Also, please pardon any outdated latin names or minor errors. Mycology is a constantly changing field. I’m just a hobby enthusiast, not an expert.

homesteading huntress - chicken of the woods mushroom foraging in BC

Me with a foraged Chicken of the Woods mushroom

How to Find a Wild Mushroom Spot in BC

Follow these steps to learn how to find a mushroom foraging spot in BC:

  1. Know common mushroom spot identifiers for beginners
  2. Find a mushroom foraging mentor and honour their “secret spot”
  3. Research specific mushrooms and where they like to grow
  4. Familiarize yourselves with online foraging tools to find places to explore
  5. Understand mushroom foraging regulations to stay safe and informed

When it comes to finding a wild mushroom spot, I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that there’s no surefire way to identify an edible mushroom spot until you’re in the exact spot during the perfect environmental conditions for mycelium to fruit mushrooms. The good news is that there are specific steps you can take to find potential mushroom foraging spots for your next hunt.

1. Know common mushroom spot identifiers for beginners

There are a wide range of edible mushroom types, and each one has specific characteristics and environmental markers. Because these mushrooms are so different, there isn’t a general set of traits that would make a location perfect for every type of mushroom.

But if you’re new to foraging, I’d recommend starting by foraging for common, easily identified choice edibles in the wetter fall and spring seasons. I often find chanterelles, yellowfoot mushrooms, admirable boletes and hedgehog mushrooms (fall) and oyster mushrooms (spring) in locations that look and feel similar to me.

In my experience, fall and spring edible mushroom foraging spots often share these features:

  • Moist, rich and dark soil
  • Some amount of dead trees or logs
  • In or near mossy areas
  • In shaded areas with reduced direct sunlight
  • Not usually beside large bodies of running water
  • Near, beside, or underneath trees (except for cedar trees)
  • Near disturbed ground (specific to some mushrooms)

However, there are lots of exceptions to this, depending on temperature, humidity, precipitation, altitude, and what type of mushrooms you’re looking for. For example, I’ve found shaggy manes in my driveway and chanterelles growing in gravel.

2. Find a mushroom foraging mentor and honour their “secret spot”

If you have a friend or know a mushroom forager already, you may be in luck. If they feel inclined, they may share their secret mushroom spots with you or even take you with them when they go mushroom picking.

Broach the subject with them by mentioning that you’d like to start foraging for wild mushrooms. Explain to them that you’ve done a lot of research and would like to get some field experience, but that you don’t know where to start looking. They may volunteer to help you, but don’t be pushy.

Remember, being shown or taken to a secret mushroom spot is a significant sign of trust for someone who is passionate about mushroom foraging. Mushrooms spots only yield a limited amount of mushrooms and they tend to reappear annually, so being shown a secret spot is a privilege.

Make sure you respect your friend and their secret spot by following some basic “secret spot” etiquette:

  • Don’t tell anyone about their secret spot or its location
  • Ask for permission if you want to return to their secret spot without them
  • Be respectful and practice mushroom foraging etiquette
  • Treat your mushroom mentor and the area respectfully
  • Don’t post photos of the secret spot or hints about its location on social media
5 Guide to Wild Mushroom Foraging in BC - The Homesteading Huntress

Yellow chanterelles I harvested

3. Research specific mushrooms and where they like to grow

Researching specific edible mushrooms in-depth is a smart, efficient way to pinpoint potential mushroom foraging spots. While there are still mushroom mysteries being explored by mycology celebrities like Paul Stamets, there is still plenty of information available about where and how mushrooms grow.

I learn best from reading, so I’ve depended on David Arora’s Mushrooms Demystified (comprehensive illustrated textbook) and All The Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms (field guide) for independent research. Both of these books are specific to Pacific Northwest mushrooms. I’ve also learned a lot from my mushroom mentor, W. I recommend beginners start with common and easily identifiable edibles with few or no poisonous lookalikes, and then learning about each one’s preferred growing location.

You can also learn from in-person or online mushroom seminars, foraging tours, or by joining a local mycology society.

4. Familiarize yourselves with online foraging tools to find places to explore

Learning how to use online tools can help you find potential mushroom foraging spots much faster than driving around BC. Here are some free online tools to help you get started with edible wild mushrooms:

  • iMapBC. Customize map data layers to pinpoint locations where you are legally allowed to forage, find public access points to avoid trespassing, and view topography and other geological datasets across BC. Recommend using on a desktop or laptop with Safari or Firefox.
  • Google Maps. Satellite and limited topographical views, directions, field access to help with orienteering and basic map information
  • Google Earth. Calculate distances, access geographical datasets, satellite images
  • Phone apps. There are Android and iPhone apps that can help with on-the-fly “just curious” mushroom identification, but I wouldn’t rely on them for in-depth learning or positive identification for edibles.

5. Understand mushroom foraging regulations to stay safe and informed

There are specific government regulations that dictate where people are and aren’t allowed to forage for mushrooms. Mushrooms are an important part of our ecosystem that we should respect and care for. Read this updated BC mushroom foraging explanation to understand where you can forage safely and responsibly.

How to Start Foraging Edible Mushrooms

Follow these steps to start foraging for BC edible mushrooms:

1. Pack mushroom harvesting supplies

While you don’t necessarily need anything to harvest edible mushrooms, having these simple, optional items can make your foraging trip easier:

  • Mesh or breathable cloth bag, or a basket with a handle or straps. Using a permeable bag or basket will allow harvested mushrooms to continue to spread spores in the area as you walk around, encouraging future growth. Look for storage options with straps that allow you to use both hands (recommended).
    • Plastic bags and narrow containers are not ideal, as mushrooms can be crushed under each other’s weight, spores can’t spread, and the mix of heat, damp, and dirt make mushrooms harder to clean later.
  • Sharp knife or spoon to remove debris and to check for worms (recommended)
  • Mushroom identification field guide (optional but recommended)
  • Orienteering tools and skills if you’re going to a new or unfamiliar place, such as a compass and/or GPS device (optional but recommended)
  • Index card, paper, or aluminium foil to take field spore prints (optional).
  • Scraps of wax paper, cloth and string, or parchment paper to allow you to isolate one-off specimens you want to bring home (optional)
  • Safety and first aid supplies suitable for your destination, including but not limited to: headlamp, charged cell phone, basic first aid kit, hiking or backcountry kit (recommended).
Harvested mushrooms in hunting pack pockets (hedgehog mushrooms, winter chanterelles, misc wild mushrooms) - Homesteading Huntress

Mushroom harvesting can’t always be planned, and sometimes you may be surprised by a flush of edible mushrooms while hunting like I was. Now I try to remember to bring foraging supplies any time I’m in the woods.

2. Choose and travel to a potential mushroom foraging spot

Narrow down and travel to one of the potential mushroom spots from your earlier research (see “How to Find a Mushroom Spot”, previous section).

3. Look for edible mushrooms that you can positively identify

When you’re in your mushroom spot, take a good look around to familiarize yourself with the area and to see what specific areas are accessible and interesting to you. You can start by looking for specific mushrooms you’re familiar with as you walk (faster), or by looking up mushrooms as you go in your field guide (slower). When you see an edible mushroom that you can positively identify, you may consider harvesting it.

Please use your orienteering skills when you’re in a new or unfamiliar place; preparedness and observation can help prevent accidents.

Yellow foot mushrooms (also known as Winter Chanterelles) held in hand, foraged while trail running - Homesteading Huntress

Handful of yellow foot mushrooms I harvested during a trail run

4. Harvest mushrooms responsibly

There’s some contention about whether foragers should cut or pull mushrooms to minimize damage to the ecosystem. When making an informed decision, it’s helpful to know some basic mycology.

Mushrooms are the fruiting body of mycelium. A single mushroom can release billions of spores in a single day; a typical spore is about 10 microns, or 1/2,500th (source). Based on my understanding of mycology and research (particularly John Forsyth’s “How to pick mushrooms correctly” article), I choose to pull mushrooms when I’m able to. But mycology is an evolving science; I’m certainly open to change practices if new information comes to light. I urge you to learn more about this topic as a new forager.

More resources on mycology, spore dispersal and pulling versus cutting:

After you pull or cut a mushroom, remove any obvious dirt and duff from the outside of the mushroom using a knife, spoon or your hands. Clean as you harvest each mushroom. It’s much easier to do a quick clean now instead of mud and debris getting stuck in every mushroom crevice as you walk around.  

Edible mushrooms you find might have maggots in them, or structural damage from maggots. Mushroom hunters often describe maggot-infested mushrooms as “wormy” and call the maggots “worms”. They’re not worms, but these maggots won’t hurt you. Remove any parts of a mushroom with significant maggot damage or too many maggots in it. These parts aren’t appealing to eat anymore, though the maggots are harmless.

You can eat a moderate amount of maggots in mushrooms without any negative consequences; they’re tasteless and unnoticeable in small amounts. It’s likely inevitable that you will see and ingest some amount of maggots eventually if you advance as a mushroom hunter. We often joke that it makes mushrooms higher in protein and even more nutritious!

If you’re nervous about seeing maggots, stick with foraging for yellow chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms at first. These edibles are known for usually being free of “worms”. 

5. Follow mushroom foraging and safety best practices

It’s important to follow foraging and safety best practices when foraging for mushrooms. These best practices help to preserve our local ecosystems, keeps you and the environment safer, assists in future harvests, and can ease potential interpersonal issues that can occur between you and your mushroom mentor, foraging partner, or strangers in the woods.

  1. Practice leave no trace principles.
  2. Only harvest a small percentage of any single mushroom in any given area. Ecosystems are sensitive and mushrooms serve many roles, such as food, shelter and vital decomposers, for many types of life in the area. It is also allows space for other foragers and forest admirers to enjoy this space.
  3. Be prepared when adventuring outdoors and practice good outdoor safety, such as:
    • Pack responsibly for the environment and for unpredictable situations, including
    • Be comfortable orienteering if you’ll be in an area that’s off the beaten path.
    • Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.
    • Ideally, forage with a partner and agree on a plan if someone gets lost.

There are more detailed health and safety tips under “Mushroom Harvesting Health and Safety” (bottom of page).

Yellow chanterelle mushrooms found in British Columbia - Homesteading Huntress

Yellow chanterelles that I admired on a BC forest walk.

Why Is It Important to Positively Identify a Mushroom?

It’s important to positively identify edible mushrooms because carelessly misidentifying mushrooms that you ingest and/or feed to other people can be dangerous and even fatal. I don’t intend to scare you, but mushroom foraging is not a hobby for the neglectful or reckless. Before you eat a mushroom, you must be certain that it’s the intended edible mushroom and you’ve checked that it isn’t an inedible or poisonous lookalike.

Before you harvest and eat a mushroom, you should be absolutely sure of the following:

  • Mushroom name
  • Edibility
  • It is NOT an inedible or poisonous lookalike mushroom. Different mushrooms can look similar to foragers at any experience level. Thorough research, spore prints, and knowing how to distinguish between individuals in the same mushroom family will help you know if your mushroom is the intended edible or an undesirable lookalike.
Large amount of yellow chanterelles stored in bag, harvested in BC - Homesteading Huntress

A surprise yellow chanterelle harvest that W. and I cleaned and and stored in a paper bag, ready to cook and keep the rest in the fridge

Popular BC Edible Mushroom Identification Guide

As a hobby-level forager, I focus on identifying and harvesting wild edible mushrooms that I can positively identify. The mushrooms listed in this guide are good for amateurs because there are very few or no poisonous lookalikes.

“Infallible Four” or “Foolproof Four” Mushrooms

The “Foolproof Four” or “Infalliable Four” wild edible mushrooms are the easiest edible mushrooms to positively identify. These wild mushrooms are distinctive looking and have few poisonous lookalikes.

If you’re just starting to forage for edible mushrooms, I recommend you only collect beginner-level edible mushrooms you can positively identify, like the ones in this guide. 

1. Morels: Black Morel (Morchella elata & M. angusticeps) and Morel (Morchella esculenta)

Harvest of edible black morel mushrooms foraged in BC - Homesteading Huntress

Small harvest of morels that I foraged in the spring.

Pay attention to these features to help you identify edible morel mushrooms, the black morel (Morchella elata & M. angusticeps) and the morel (Morchella esculenta):

In BC, morels are popularly associated with spring foraging. They can grow in many types of habitats; I have heard of people finding them in backyards and trails as much as I’ve heard about them found in the mountains. Morels are notoriously difficult to see, but when you acquire the “morel eye”, you might be lucky enough to see hundreds or more in a single location.

Morels tend to be found in different areas every year; they’re less likely to appear year-after-year in the same place, unlike other edible mushrooms. Morels are highly prized choice edibles and foraging locations are fiercely competitive. Serious morel hunters are usually very secretive about their spots.

2. Yellow Chanterelle (Chantharellus cibarius)

Yellow chanterelle mushroom harvest foraged in British Columbia - Homesteading Huntress

Yellow chanterelle mushrooms that I harvested in early fall, British Columbia

Pay attention to these features to help you identify the edible yellow chanterelle mushroom (Chantharellus cibarius):

  • Bright yellow-orange colour, smooth, dry, firm
  • Cap has depressed dip in centre and is often wavy when mature
  • Cap grows up to 15 cm wide
  • Mature chanterelle is funnel-shaped and tapers at bottom
  • Gills are spaced, shallow and often connect smoothly between the cap and stem. Mature chanterelles may resemble upside-down umbrellas
  • Does not change colour when bruised
  • Grows alone or in groups, not in clusters, at base of trees but not on the tree itself
  • No veil, ring or volva
  • Appears in summer and fall
  • Mild taste and mild, fruity odour
  • Notable look-alikes:

Chanterelles are my favourite edible mushroom to harvest. They are so beautiful and finely formed, like a little art nouveau treasure hidden in the ground. It always feels like a delight to find a chanterelle, no matter how often it happens.

Chanterelle mushrooms are a highly prized edible mushroom. They have become more popular in upscale restaurants and luxury dining and are admired for their firm texture, beauty and mildly fruity fragrance. They are also rarely infested with maggots, which is a bonus for foragers.

3. Chicken of the Woods (includes several distinct Laetiporus species, notably Laetiporus conifericola and Laetiporus gilbertsonii)

Chicken of the Woods mushroom growing on a log in British Columbia - Homesteading Huntress

Chicken of the Woods mushroom I found growing on a decomposing log

Though Chicken of the Woods is commonly viewed a good beginner mushroom, as it is distinct looking and has no poisonous look-alikes, I don’t think it’s necessarily in the top four of best mushrooms for new foragers. Chicken of the Woods are actually a group of several distinct mushroom species. Some of these distinct species, particularly Laetiporus gilbertsonii, commonly found on eucalyptus trees, are associated with gastronomical discomfort and in some extreme cases, vomiting, chills and hallucinations (source).

Eucalyptus trees aren’t native to BC and aren’t commonly found here, but Laetiporus species may be able to cross-breed, so please proceed with caution. I recommend eating Chicken of the Woods after researching yourself and only when tender and young; double-check that it is not from a eucalyptus tree. Having said this, many people eat chicken of the woods and seem to have no gastronomical issues with it. Chicken of the woods is widely eaten in mushroom hunting circles and I personally don’t know anyone who has eaten it and become ill. 

If you are still interested, here are distinct feature to help you identify the Chicken of the Woods mushroom in BC (Laetiporus conifericola and Laetiporus gilbertsonii):

  • Edible when tender, not recommended for eating when mature or if found on eucalyptus trees (typically Laetiporus gilbertsonii)
  • Fruiting body grows in a shelving formations, overlapping, or rosettes
  • Caps fan-shaped or semi-irregular
  • Caps are smooth to finely wrinkled, suede-like, bright yellow or orange when young and fading with UV exposure
  • Stalk is absent or nearly absent
  • Cap (top of shelf) is bright yellow-orange to salmon-coloured
  • Under-cap is bright yellow when fresh
  • Flesh is thick, soft, watery when young, paling and crumbling with age
  • Grows on logs and stumps
  • Laetiporus gilbertsonii and Laetiporus conifericola appear in Western North America and are biologically different than the more commonly known Laetiporus sulphureus, which isn’t found in British Columbia

4. Edible Puffballs: Tumbling Puffball (Bovista plumbea), Western Giant Puffball (Calvatia booniana), other edible small-to-medium puffballs (notably Lycoperdon & Bovista pila)

2 edible puffballs on the ground (Homesteading Huntress)

Most puffballs are considered edible (as long as their insides are pure white with no signs of gills, colours, markings or patterns inside) and easy to identify for new forager, so they are often recommended for beginners. However, they are bland tasting and I find their spongey texture unappealing. They are a common edible mushroom, but as a food-oriented forager, I’m not a fan.

If you’re interested, here are a few ways you can identify edible puffball mushrooms in BC:

  • Tumbling Puffball (Bovista plumbea) is mostly round and less than 2″ wide with no warts or spines. No narrowed base or stalk. White when young. Do not eat when brown, darkened or lead-coloured, if they have hole in top, or if inside is soft, slimy or powdery – signs of inedible old specimens.
  • Western Giant Puffball (Calvatia booniana) is large, round or oblong, with no narrowed base or stalk. Can have warts or plaques on exterior. Do not eat if brown, yellow, green, or olive-coloured or inside is soft, slimy or powdery – signs of inedible and old specimens that can cause digestive problems.
  • There are also other small-to-medium edible puffballs in British Columbia, notably in the Lycoperdon genus and Bovista pila.
  • When cut in half, they are pure white inside with absolutely no gills, colours, markings, structures or patterns inside. This is the most obvious sign that a puffball is edible (source).
  • White, potentially with beige tint on outside only
  • Flesh inside is firm, pure white with marshmallow-like texture
  • Can grow alone or in clusters
  • Appear in spring, summer, and fall
  • Bland flavour and spongey texture
  • Notable look-alikes:
    • Some inedible and poisonous mushrooms look like edible puffballs from their exteriors, especially when immature. Non-edible-puffball look-alikes will have gills, structures, markings, patterns or colours inside.
    • Warning: the deadly poisonous Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) can look like an edible puffball when immature. When you cut an immature Death Cap in half, you will see there is structure inside, unlike an edible puffball. Always cut puffballs in half to positively identify before eating.
Cut open edible puffball in BC

Puffball cut in half to check for colours or structures inside

Best Beginner Edible Mushrooms in BC

There are many more beginner edible mushrooms than the Infallible Four. In addition to my favourite Infallible Four mushrooms, chanterelles and morels, here is a list of the best tasting and easy-to-identify mushrooms in BC suitable for new foragers (in my opinion):

1. Edible Hedgehog Mushrooms: Hedgehog Mushroom (Hydnum repandum) and Bellybutton Hedgehog, or Depressed Hedgehog (Hydnum umbilicatum)

Closeup of edible hedgehog mushroom held in gloved hand, harvested in British Columbia - Homesteading Huntress

Hedgehog mushroom I harvested in British Columbia

Here are the top features to identify edible hedgehog mushrooms, the Hedgehog Mushroom (Hydnum repanaum) and the Bellybutton Hedgehog (also called Depressed Hedgehog): 

  • Hedgehog Mushroom (Hydnum repandum) mushrooms are usually medium-sized when mature, but immature specimens may be smaller. Hedgehog mushrooms are also called Sweet Tooth mushrooms. 
  • Bellybutton Hedgehog (Hydnum umbilicatum) mushrooms are usually smaller than the other hedgehog mushroom and may have a small hole in the centre of the cap. Bellybutton hedgehog mushrooms are also called Depressed Hedgehog mushrooms.
  • Cap is wide, smooth, convex, can be wavy at edges
  • Cap and stalk are white to pale orange in colour
  • Distinctive underside of cap has cream-coloured spines resembling teeth
  • Flesh is white when cut, turns unevenly yellow-brown
  • Stem is solid, white, may slightly enlarge at base
  • Flesh brittle, not woody or leathery
  • Grows alone or in groups in areas of conifers and hardwoods
  • Often found in spring and fall
  • Notable look-alikes:

Hedgehog mushrooms are easy to identify and are usually free of maggots. Their texture and flavour are comparable to yellow chanterelles. I often find them in large quantities in the same area. These features make them highly prized by mushroom hunters. Be careful to clean as you harvest, as the under-cap spines are hard to clean later without damaging them. 

2. Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus)

 
Edible shaggy mane mushrooms in BC (Homesteading Huntress)

Here are the top features to use to identify the shaggy mane mushroom (Coprinus comatus):

  • Cap is narrow, cylindrical, white and tall with brown scales 
  • Older shaggy manes have bell-shaped cap
  • Soft, white flesh
  • Gills lightly attached to stem and white-grey when young, liquifies into black inky flesh when older
  • Partial veil may leave half-ring on stem as it matures
  • Stalk is hollow and white 
  • Often found in early spring and late fall
  • White flesh of young mushroom has pleasant taste with no odour
  • Eating notes:
    • Black flesh has bitter, strong fishy flavour and slimy texture. Black flesh should be removed before cooking and eating
    • Shaggy manes break down quickly after being harvested. Be prepared to eat them quickly after foraging them. 
  • Notable look-alikes:

Shaggy manes are one of W.’s favourite mushrooms to harvest and eat. When they are freshly harvested and young, shaggy manes’ soft white flesh is delicious and sought-after. However, you need to be ready to cook and eat them quickly after harvesting. Shaggy manes flesh breaks down quickly after being cut or pulled, quickly turning black, slimy and unappetizing smelling. 

3. Lobster Mushroom (Hypomyces lactifluorum)

Lobster mushrooms found in British Columbia - Homesteading Huntress

Lobster mushrooms I found growing in BC

Here are the top features to use to identify the edible lobster mushroom (Hypomyces lactifluorum):

  • Technically the lobster mushroom is a parasitic fungus and not a mushroom fruiting body 
  • Fungus turns mushroom host bright red-orange, orange or purple-red
  • Firm, dense texture
  • Texture is coarse, cracked, or dotted with small white bumps
  • Fungus will eventually deform host until the original host mushroom is unidentifiable 
  • Not forked or veined under cap 
  • Has a seafood flavour and fragrance that varies from mushroom to mushroom
  • Fresh lobster mushrooms have white flesh inside
  • Often appears in summer and fall

Lobster mushrooms are technically parasitic fungi that grows on its hosts, always gilled mushrooms, unlike the other mushroom fruiting bodies in this guide. Even though the host mushroom is unidentifiable, lobster mushrooms are widely considered edible and delicious. It’s possible that lobster mushrooms only infect edible hosts, or the lobster mushroom renders its host edible. Fresh and young lobster mushrooms have a sought-after seafood flavour when cooked. Harder, mature lobster mushrooms are better used for stock or left behind. 

4. Oyster Mushroom (includes several related species, notably Pleurotus ostreatus in BC)

Many oyster mushrooms growing with moss and other greenery in British Columbia - Homesteading Huntress

Oyster mushrooms I found growing in British Columbia

Here are the top features you can use to identify the oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus):

  • Shelf growth on dead wood, trees, logs and stumps 
  • Caps medium-to-large, white, gray, tan, brown 
  • Gills white or pale, run down through the cap and down the stalk (if present)
  • Stalk may be absent, or is wide and short 
  • White or light purple spores 
  • Often in large groups, commonly found in spring and fall 
  • Notable look-alikes:

Oyster mushrooms are popular with mushroom hunters because they are commonly found in many areas and are usually harvested in large quantities. I think wild oyster mushrooms are much more flavourful than farmed specimens I buy in the grocery store. I’m not sure whether it is because foraged oyster mushrooms are fresher or grown in the wild, or because I have the satisfaction of harvesting them myself. 

5. Admirable Bolete (Boletus mirabilis)

6 admirable boletes harvested in British Columbia on table and in hand - Homesteading Huntress

Admirable boletes I harvested in BC

Here are the top features to use to identify admirable boletes (Boletus mirabilis) in BC: 

  • Cap is dark brown, burgundy-brown or red-brown 
  • Cap often feels plush, like velvet, or has many little scales 
  • Under-cap has pores (not gills or veins) and are yellow or green-yellow
  • When bruised, may stain yellow (never blue)
  • Stalk has lines running down it, lines are comparable colour as cap 
  • Medium-sized
  • No veil 
  • Notable look-alikes:

Admirable boletes are delicious and have a unique lemon fragrance. I often find them close to chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms in the fall, though I’ve never harvested them in huge quantities (yet). If chanterelles are the most beautiful and treasure-like of edible mushrooms, then admirable boletes are by far the cutest (in my opinion). I often compare admirable boletes to teddy bears because of their soft, plush and velvet-like brown caps.  

6. King Bolete, also called Porcini (Boletus edulis)

Porcini mushrooms (and a few other boletes) harvested in British Columbia - Homesteading Huntress

Spread of porcini mushrooms (and a few other boletes) that W. and I harvested together

Here are the top features you can use to identify the King Bolete, also called the Porcini (Boletus edulis):

  • Cap brown, yellow-brown, red-brown or dark red, may be white-ish when young
  • Under cap has pores, not gills or veins 
  • Pores are white when young, matures to be yellowish, brown or green-brown
  • Flesh is white inside, pores and flesh do not stain blue or brown when bruised 
  • Stalk is white to brown, not yellow. Thick stalk, at least 1″ wide
  • Not bitter
  • Notable look-alikes:

King Boletes, also known as porcinis, are prized choice edible mushrooms with a savoury, nutty flavour when eaten fresh or when dried. They’re excellent in pasta, stews and sauces and, if you dry some of your prized harvest, you can rehydrate king boletes and eat them all year. 

If you’re nervous about seeing or eating maggots, it may be helpful to know that king boletes are infamously “wormy”. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a flush of porcinis early in the season, when they’re less likely to be infested. You can always cut off any too-damaged mushroom parts as you harvest. 

7. Yellow Foot, Winter Chanterelle or Funnel Chanterelle (Craterellus tubaeformis, formerly Cantharellus tubaeformis)

 
7 yellow foot mushrooms (also known as winter chanterelles) growing in BC - Homesteading Huntress

Seven yellow foot mushrooms I saw on a fall forest walk

Here are the top features to use when identifying the Yellow Foot mushroom, also known as Winter Chanterelle or Funnel Chanterelle (Cantharellus tubaeformis):

  • Small mushroom cap, usually with dip or hole in the middle
  • Cap is brown, tan or dull orange, not slimy 
  • Gills widely spaced and go down to the stalk, not through stalk to base; may have veins 
  • Thin stalk, yellow or dull orange when fresh 
  • Stalk is hollow
  • No veil or volva 
  • Notable look-alikes:

Yellow foot mushrooms, also called Winter Chanterelles or Funnel Chanterelles, are probably the edible mushroom I see most often when I’m out in the woods. They’re good to eat and I enjoy harvesting them. Though they are smaller and flimsier compared to yellow chanterelles or hedgehog mushrooms, yellow foot mushrooms can be gathered in significantly large quantities quite often if you frequently find yourself out in the woods in British Columbia.

Pile of yellow foot mushrooms on tabletop, harvested in British Columbia - Homesteading Huntress

Lucky harvest of yellow foot mushrooms (also called winter chanterelles) that I foraged for

Resources to Learn More About Mushroom Hunting

Here are additional resources to help you learn about and identify more types of wild edible mushrooms in BC:

3 Guide to Wild Mushroom Foraging in BC - The Homesteading Huntress

Wild mushroom and goat cheese tart

Tips For Cooking Wild Mushrooms

Here are some tips to help you cook and enjoy your mushroom harvest:

  • Don’t be afraid of using your mushroom treasures. I usually find most edible mushrooms better eaten fresh instead of dried and rehydrated later (though there are benefits to preserving your harvest – most edible mushrooms can be dried successfully and some species are better rehydrated than fresh). You worked hard to forage your edible treasures, so make sure you treat them right during the cooking process.
  • Wild edible mushrooms are very comparable to their farmed counterparts in terms of how to cook them. Don’t undercook them, don’t overcook them, and season appropriately. Don’t eat wild mushrooms raw.
  • Generally, when cooking mushrooms for savoury dishes, gently release and evaporate the liquid in the mushrooms until they’re tender and ready to eat. Adding a source of umami, like a splash of soy sauce, can be helpful in enhancing earthy mushroom flavours. Generous amounts of butter, salt and garlic are almost always welcome, too. 

Here are a few of my favourite edible wild mushroom recipes:

4 Guide to Wild Mushroom Foraging in BC - The Homesteading Huntress

Yellow chanterelle I harvested in the dark. It’s always good to have a headlamp when in the woods.

Mushroom Harvesting Health and Safety

Before you go mushroom hunting, here are more health and safety tips to help you harvest confidently:

  • Eating wild mushrooms raw is inadvisable. Do not swallow raw wild mushrooms.
  • If you’ve never eaten a particular type of wild edible mushroom before, such as a chanterelle or lobster mushroom, please cook a tiny bit of it and try it before you gorge yourself on your harvest. You never know what your body might be allergic to. For example, I find matsutake mushrooms give me indigestion.
  • Always, always, always positively identify mushrooms before eating. I recommend taking a field guide and/or making spore prints to assist in positive identification. Verify with an expert if unsure.
  • Be extremely watchful of poisonous look-alikes. Always positively identify mushrooms before eating, do adequate research and use appropriate caution.
  • Follow leave no trace principles and backcountry practices.
  • Be mindful of dangers around you, not limited to the environment, topography and wildlife. Equip yourself properly and prepare for hazards and unexpected issues in the wilderness. Always pack as if you’ll be out longer than you think.
  • Know where you are and where you are going. Familiarize yourself with basic orienteering skills if you will be in the backcountry.
  • Always tell someone where you are ahead of time and when to expect you back. Better yet, forage with a friend.
2 Guide to Wild Mushroom Foraging in BC - The Homesteading Huntress

Harvested yellow chanterelles and wild oysters from coastal BC

Good luck on your next wild mushroom foraging adventure in British Columbia. Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

This post was originally published on September 14, 2017 and was updated on November 27, 2020.

Posted by Arielle

Arielle is a passionate urban homesteader and hunter located in Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.

  1. Is this article available as a pdf file?? Thank you. It is excellent!!!

    Reply

  2. Thank you very much, Mark! I can email you a PDF of the text itself, but you’d have to add the photos yourself. You can contact me with your email on the Contact page if you’d like a copy. Happy foraging!

    Reply

  3. great page.. I’m bookmarking and will return to read more thoroughly! thank-you!

    Reply

  4. Almost all your latin is wrong. Yellowfeet are in the craterellus family for instance.

    Reply

    1. Yellow Foot mushrooms used to be classified as Cantharellus tubaeformis before being moved to Craterellus tubaeformis. Sometimes the field guides we use, as amateur enthusiasts, are slightly out-of-date. Mycology is an ever-evolving field. Please be kind if you want to comment, considering this is a free blog that I put together as a hobby to share information that I think could be helpful to other people. And if we are splitting hairs, the plural of yellow foot mushrooms isn’t “yellowfeet”. But I do welcome helpful criticisms and suggestions if they made with good intentions. I’ve updated the latin name for yellow foot, and I appreciate you catching the incorrect former classification. It’s fixed now.

      Reply

  5. Amazing Article! Thanks for writing such a beautiful piece

    Reply

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