With the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had in the Eastern portion of North America so far in 2017, it seems logical that mushrooms would abound in the wild. The first few times I went out hunting, however, I found nothing. Then, on July 26, 2017, I hit the Bruce Trail as it runs through Hockley Valley Provincial Park. Having done this section of train many, many times before, I had my idea where I would find something. It turns out, there were mushrooms there, but almost everywhere else, as well.
This is by no means an educational article on mushrooms. I find identifying different types of mushrooms to be challenging. However, besides the beauty, it did identify one that turns out to be one of the most poisonous. Which is funny because I wondered throughout the hike if that particular one might be edible. Also, one plant featured below, although similar in lifestyle to the mushroom, is actually a flower. And, that one is apparently quite rare.
Bruce Trail Wild Mushrooms Image Gallery
What We Found
Along with the incredible macro beauty of a scene with mushrooms growing on moss on a rotting, fallen tree, I found a couple of interesting species. At the bottom left of the image gallery is the Amanita Virosa. This mushroom is commonly known as Destroying Angel and is identified by its clean white (appetizing to the eyes) appearance and the collar around its stem.
It turns out, Destroying Angel is one of the most poisonous mushrooms found in nature. When eaten, it can cause severe liver and kidney damage. It reminds me a little of the Dengue Fever process. It takes a long eight hours after ingestion before the affects begin. At first, there is severe stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. This is then followed by a temporary remission when the victim might think it has gone away. But, then it returns after a few days with much more severe symptoms, often ending in death.
Beside Amanita Virosa on the bottom row of the image gallery are two images of Monotropa Uniflora. This plant is commonly called Ghost Plant for its lack of colour. This is not a mushroom. It is, in fact, a herbaceous perennial plant that simply does not contain chlorophyll. Therefore, it has no green colour.
The Ghost Plant is parasitic and gets its nutrients from the surrounding trees. Also known as Ghost Pipe, Indian Pipe and Corpse Plant, it is apparently quite rare. So, if you are looking to find it, there are two patches on the Bruce Trail side trail at Hockley Valley Provincial Park that leads to the parking on Third Line.
The first five mushroom photos in the image gallery, from left to right and top to bottom, were taken along the Snell Pond side trail where it runs alongside the creek that eventually drains into the Nottawasaga River.
Hockley Valley Provincial Park
Officially, Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve, the park is a non-operating reserve located six kilometres northeast of Orangeville, Ontario. The main parking and trail entrance is off Hockley Road (east of Highway 10) and there is also a small parking lot on Third Line. The Bruce Trail exits the park to the north at Dunby Road. There is no parking at that location.
The park was established in 1989 and is non-operating. This means there is no staff, no facilities, no fees and no maintenance (trail maintenance done by the Bruce Trail folks). In saying that, regular users should consider a Bruce Trail Conservancy membership to help with the costs. The park is 3.78 square kilometres or 1.46 square miles. Despite the relatively small size, one can hike for hours along the twisting Bruce Trail and its side trails.
Part of the Niagara Escarpment, the park is home to 417 vascular plants. Many of those plants are rare, including the above mentioned Ghost Plant.