Facinating Fungi

Facinating Fungi

Trip Report by Leader David Cook

On 19 October, 2019, thirty persons participated in this walk in Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver. The event was jointly organized by the Lighthouse Park Preservation Society and Nature Vancouver.

We walked along the Beacon Lake Trail from the parking area to the Sk’iwitsut Hut. On the way I explained the damage being done to old-growth Douglas-firs by the Honey Mushroom (Armillaria sp) which made their presence known by the tree exuding pitch in a vain attempt to get rid of the parasite. Near the Sk’iwitsut Hut we saw a mushroom of Schweinitz Butt Rot (Phaeolus schweinitzii) attached to the submerged root of a Douglas-fir. This is another parasite of Douglas-fir in lighthouse Park. Also Neofusicoccum arbuti the Arbutus canker which is infecting and killing many of the Arbutus trees in the Park. This is the northern extent of the range of Arbutus and therefore is vulnerable to disease. In many cases the trees are dying and sprouting new growth from their lignotubers. 

I explained the two other important roles that fungi play in the ecosystem, namely as mycorrhiza where they have a symbiotic relationship with a green plant and supply minerals in exchange for sugars and as decomposers of dead wood. Without fungi we would have no nutrient-rich soil. 

Fungi displayed in the Ski’witsut Hut – Photo by David Cook

We then departed to the shelter and warmth of the Sk’iwitsut Hut where I had set up many mushroom specimens the night before, together with a microscope to view the smaller specimens such as Coccomyces dentate, a rust that infects Oregon grape leaves in our area. On the leaf you can see black lines that separate each clone and the fruiting bodies of the clone. I also explained the connection of the poisonous and hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria to Christmas, and how the Lapps removed the poison by feeding the mushroom to reindeer to rid it of the poisonous muscarine and then drinking the urine for the hallucinogenic effect.

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