May is Morel month on Vancouver Island. For years I have wanted to collect morels but we are fortunate to have few forest fires in our area. Last year’s Lizard Lake fire just 20 km out of Port Renfrew produced a local opportunity to collect one of the most sought after mushrooms.
Morels do grow in other areas but they appear in greatest abundance the first year after a forest fire. In fact I have only encountered one outside a burn area in all my years tramping through the woods.
The cut area 22 km out of town on the way to Cowichan Lake was my objective. It has been a dry spring so I reasoned they may need water. I selected the creek that runs down the middle of the cut block and planned to circle up and back down the smaller creek about 100 meters down hill from it.
The climb up the creek was pleasantly cool with small water falls babbling as I climbed but no signs of mushrooms of any kind.
Lots of wild flowers also made it a wonderful outing.
At the top of the creek as the burn came to an end I circled to the left and there on a steep south facing bank I found morels in abundance.
They appear in groups. Find one and you usually find several more.
I always check the canopy to see if I can predict where else I might find them. It turns out that the pine forest is strongly preferred and water supply turned out to have no bearing on the productivity of an area.
BE CAREFUL there are steep drops in this area and the morels seem to like the steep terrain.
False morels 🙂 As is always the case when trying to spot a particular type of mushroom certain items draw your attention. With chantrells it is the maple leaf. With morels it was these guys.
I collected about 2 pounds above the creek and another pound up by Harris Canyon.