A bumper crop of valuable morel mushrooms may well be on the way next spring in West Kelowna.
Come March, following a forest fire, the nutrient-rich soil left by the burned trees generally creates the perfect conditions for morels to grow, according to Dave Scott, head of the earth sciences department at UBCO.
The tasty morsels can go for $15-$20 a pound, although the price does tend to drop following particularly bad forest fire seasons, like 2003.
Scott was doing research on the Westside in the spring of 2010, after the Terrace Mountain fire, and found himself surrounded by foragers eager to earn the pretty penny mushrooms growing from the ashes of the 2009 fires would produce.
“That place was, I wouldn’t say teeming, but there were quite a lot of regular mushroom pickers who were going around to various sites where there had been a fire and camping,” he said.
The morel mushroom is an extremely delicate creation, if somewhat ugly to some, and has spawned a near cult following. Reams of information on how to search for and identify them can be found online.