The diverse and expansive forests of Ontario are an amazing place to be a forage for mushrooms. Chanterelles, Boletes, Morels, and many other choice edible mushrooms can be foraged in Ontario. You just have to know where and when to look! Thankfully it’s not too hard to find a good place in Ontario to forage for mushrooms.
Good places to forage for mushrooms in Ontario
While there are many places that offer great mushroom habitat in Ontario, it is not legal to pick mushrooms anywhere. Many private and publicly owned lands entirely prohibit the removal of plants, mushrooms, or animals. Make sure to consult your local landowners and laws before picking mushrooms. The most common and abundant place to forage wild mushrooms in Ontario is on Crown Land.
Foraging Laws in Ontario
- Plant and mushroom foraging is allowed on Crown Land where ever it is not specifically mentioned otherwise. If a forager wants exclusive use they have to apply to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
- Foraging is prohibited in provincial parks without proper authorization.
- Commercial picking is prohibited in conservation reserves but harvesting for personal consumption is permitted.
- The City of Toronto bans foraging in city parks, forests, and ravines.
- Plants or mushrooms listed as threatened or endangered are prohibited from foraging anywhere in Ontario.
- First Nations may prohibit foraging in their traditional lands. These include some regions where it may otherwise be permitted by state law. Please contact your local First Nations representatives if you have any doubts on this topic.
Foraging on Crown Land in Ontario
Crown Land is essentially public land that is used for a variety of public services such as economic development, tourism, and recreation. More than 80% of Ontario is Crown Land, of which 95% is in northern Ontario. The abundance of Crown Land and the fact that it is one of the only public spaces where foraging is allowed makes it an important asset for mushroom hunters. The Crown Land Use Policy Atlas can help you find areas where mushroom picking is permitted in Ontario.
5 Places To Forage Mushrooms In Ontario
Why Go Foraging For Mushrooms?
Mushroom foraging is a create way to spend time outdoors and connect with nature in a unique way. At the very least foraging for mushrooms brings out many of the joys of hiking with an added bonus! Not only do you get the delicious and medicinal prizes that are wild mushrooms, but you also get the joy of finding them. For many mushroom hunters, the hunt is almost as important as the prize!
How To Learn About Mushroom Foraging
The best way to learn about mushrooms and mushroom picking is to go out with an experienced forager. This may either be an experienced friend or a professional offering an educative experience. Alternatively you can find local mushroom communities such as the Mycological Society of Toronto or the Canadian Mycological Associations to help get you started. Social media and facebook groups are also a great way to learn and meet of individuals interested in mushrooms.
List of Facebook groups for Ontario mushroom foragers
Mushroom Foraging Best Practices
- Only take what you need and never more than you can use.
- Always consult landowners and local first nations before foraging on any land.
- Only harvest species that you have identified 100%
- Do not dismember or alter all the mushrooms along the trail.
- Only harvest mushrooms that are proliferating in large numbers.
- DO NOT harvest rare, endangered, or uncommon species.
- Always bring water, GPS, map, and don’t get lost!
- Cut mushrooms from the base with a knife.
What to expect on your first mushroom foraging hike?
You never know what to expect on your first mushroom hunt. You may get completely skunked and be totally out of season in the wrong place. Alternatively, you may be at the right place at the right time and find yourself overwhelmed by mushrooms!
If your not seeing many mushrooms than just have patience. Enjoy the nature and keep your eyes peeled for any potential fungus. Sometimes there can be some hidden gems even when the seasons not the best! If you end up completely skunked, you now know where not to look at this time of the year!
If you find yourself overwhelmed by a huge diversity of mushrooms on your first outing, don’t worry! Try to forage mushrooms you feel comfortable with such as Chanterelles or Boletes which are easy for beginners. If your going at it alone with no experienced guide, you may not feel comfortable harvesting. That’s okay! If this is the case, just take pictures and confirm the identify of the mushrooms with better resources or maybe the help of an expert.
NEVER consume wild mushrooms that have not been properly identified. Identification should be done by an experienced mushroom forager. Do not rely on instinct, intuition, or an electronic application. Mushrooms don’t just “look” or “feel” edible, you must confirm the exact identify of any type of mushroom you consume! It is also important to understand how to properly harvest and prepare mushrooms to avoid having any complications with digestion.