Mushroom Harvesting on Haida Gwaii
By Flavien Mabit
Collecting Chanterelles. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
Picking mushrooms is a seasonal industry on the islands providing work for local and visiting harvesters. It is also a popular pastime for locals who are interested in gathering their own food.
Coral fungi. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
Chicken of the woods. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
The primary species harvested commercially on Haida Gwaii is the Chanterelle, (Pacific Golden Chanterelle, Cantharellus formosus) which is found primarily in second growth Hemlock and Spruce forested areas.
Meadow Mushrooms. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
Harvesting Chanterelles. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
There are several other common edible species such as Boletes, Oyster mushrooms, Shaggy Manes, Hedgehogs, Blue and Black Chanterelles and the occasional Pine mushroom. The harvesting season ranges from late August until late October.
Puff Balls. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
Mushroom buyer at Skidegate Lake. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
The best known area for harvesting is Skidegate Lake on Moresby Island (about 45 minutes by logging road from Sandspit). Harvesters from off-island frequently set up temporary camps along the shore of the lake.
Selling a harvest. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
The Chanterelles are bought by agents for off-island companies and shipped directly to Vancouver and then on to the European and Asian markets. There are local efforts made to purchase the Chanterelles for locally made products.
Cauliflower Mushroom. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
In September and October, visit the mushroom camp at Skidegate Lake to meet pickers and buyers. The logging road from Sandspit to Skidegate Lake can be driven in a car, but some rental companies may not allow rental cars on the dirt roads.
Important note: Try picking mushrooms only with someone who is experienced at identified the species.
You can find more on the biology of the chanterelle at http://www.mushroomexpert.com/cantharellus_formosus.html
Boletus. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit
Contact the Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre at (250) 559-8316 or the Sandspit Visitor Centre at 250 637 5362 to get current road information for the logging roads.
A good harvest. Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit