Fungus fest uncovers mushroom bounty 

Young and old take to the forests to seek out fall’s fungus

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOHN FRENCH - GOLD PINE Quest University student Maria Yasel shows off a pine mushroom she discovered just up the hillside from Myrtle Philip Community School.
  • Photo by John French
  • GOLD PINE Quest University student Maria Yasel shows off a pine mushroom she discovered just up the hillside from Myrtle Philip Community School.

There was a perfect alignment of wisdom, youthful energy, and thirst for knowledge Saturday, Oct. 19 at Myrtle Philip Community School.

Retired university professor Bryce Kendrick was one of a handful of leaders who took curious mushroom hunters out on walks around Whistler to discover, discuss and collect fungal matter as part of the Fungus Among Us Festival. Kendrick teamed up with fellow PhD Terry McIntosh, a plant ecologist and taxonomist, to walk thorough the forested hillside next to the school with a group made up primarily Quest University students. Just steps from the schoolyard the group discovered their own festival of fungus.

“Look at the variety of organisms,” says Kendrick as he looks around the forest floor just off the school grounds near the popular trail known as Cut Yer Bars. Kendrick and a bunch of the university students are looking closely at a small puffball.

“What happens at the end is there’s a little hole happens there and then the spores inside — which are dry and powdery — if a rain drop falls on it they’ll come puffing out the top,” Kendrick explains.

Meriya Gmeiner-McPherson is fascinated by every word from the author of The Fifth Kingdom, a fungi reference book used by universities around the world.

“Oh, so they use rain to reproduce,” says Gmeiner-McPherson. “That’s what I find really interesting about mushrooms is that each one has a different way.”

The group found a broad range of mushroom species; including coral fungus, boletes, hedgehogs, shaggy manes and pine mushrooms.

Maria Yasel of Quest exited the forest with a significant collection of pine mushrooms. She and two other students who unearthed the large edible mushrooms had plans to cook up their bounty and eat it fresh.

The Fungus Among Us Festival at the school ends with a public display of the mushrooms collected this morning. The mushroom display is set to end at 4 p.m.

Check back on Thursday for more news from the festival.

By John French

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