There’s been plenty of talk about Alberta’s bumper berry crop, but recent wet weather is also causing fungi to flourish.
Puffballs, for example, are plentiful all over the province.
“Yes puffballs are having a bumper crop. I’ve heard reports of large – even basketball-sized – puffballs everywhere from Acme to Calgary all the way up north to Lac La Biche,” Candice Cullum, Red Deer’s regional coordinator with the Alberta Mycological Society (AMS) said.
They’re not usually prairie dwellers, but giant puffballs are being found on farms typically plagued by drought.
“This year we’re picking a basket every time we go out. There’s no getting nothing. Last year it wasn’t so fruitful,” Cullum said. AMS hosts group outings to pick mushrooms on a weekly basis in regions across the province.
The society’s annual Great Alberta Foray was held last weekend in Lac La Biche. Pickers and mycologists there catalogue mushroom species which will be submitted to Ottawa to be entered into a federal database.
“We’re seeing some really unique things in unique areas,” Cullum said. “Maybe not stuff we’ve never seen before, but stuff we’ve seen before but just in areas we’ve never seen it before.”
From the tasty “lion’s mane” to lactating varieties – distinguishing which is which can be complicated.
“There are a lot of mushrooms out there that won’t necessarily kill you but you may want to die.”
The society’s motto: when in doubt throw it out. They also recommend beginners join the group’s weekly outings rather than attempting to pick wild mushrooms on their own.