B.C. scientists have discovered that death cap mushrooms have learned to live off the roots of Garry oak trees. This means the mushroom has adapted, spread itself farther, and can now also be found anywhere Garry oaks grow. (Adolf and Oluna Ceska photo)

B.C. scientists have discovered that death cap mushrooms have learned to live off the roots of Garry oak trees. This means the mushroom has adapted, spread itself farther, and can now also be found anywhere Garry oaks grow. (Adolf and Oluna Ceska photo)

Death cap mushroom evolves to survive off B.C. native tree species

Notoriously poisonous mushroom can now be found near the base of Garry oak trees

Beings of nature have a fascinating way of adapting to their environment.

Amanita phalloides, or death cap mushrooms, originated in Europe but were accidentally introduced in B.C. through hitching rides on the roots of trees, such as the sweet chestnut. Once planted in the yards of urban neighbourhoods here, the fruiting bodies began to make their presence known.

Initially, the notoriously poisonous mushroom would only show up near the base of transplanted European trees. And for a while, the only place they could be found was in Vancouver or the Greater Victoria region.

However, in the last few years B.C. scientists discovered that death caps have learned to live off the roots of Garry oak trees, shared Metchosin biologist Andy MacKinnon. This means that the mushroom species has adapted, spread itself farther, and can now also be found anywhere Garry oaks grow.

READ ALSO: Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

MacKinnon grew up in Vancouver, graduating with a master’s degree in mycology from the University of British Columbia. He noted that although death cap mushrooms have evolved to survive on the native oak trees, he is unsure of how this will affect the ecosystem.

“We really have no idea what the affect on the tree is,” said MacKinnon, who is currently helping with a study that investigates what fungi species grow on Garry oak roots. “It is difficult to tell whether the death cap would displace other fungi that grow on the roots, or just grow in addition to what is there already.”

There is a scarcity of research done on the relationship between Garry oaks and fungi, MacKinnon added, so before they could predict how the trees are affected, more information is needed on what other species grow on the roots.

MacKinnon, who is also a Metchosin councillor, continues to research the curious lives of mushrooms through various projects.

One of his learning lenses is focused with the Metchosin Biodiversity Project, a group that aims to increase understanding of Metchosin’s species and ecosystems. The organization holds annual “mycoblitz” events, which include the community in collecting and identifying mushrooms in Metchosin.

For more information, or to learn about species that have been identified in the region, please click here.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Penticton Farmers Market is gearing up to open April 17 with COVID-19 safety protocols in place including mandatory masks. (Brennan Phillip/file photo)
Penticton Farmers’ Market needs volunteers, prepares for opening day

The Farmers’ Market will return to Main Street April 17

An old faucet. (Pixabay)
‘Wild wild west’ of water has Farleigh Lake resident concerned

Lack of oversight and unclear responsibilities has led to nothing but stress

The Cactus Court housing property was intended to have zero barriers for accessibility, but the door sills are visibly above the outer layer of concrete. It is one of the issues that BC Housing has hired a new contractor to fix. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
BC Housing begins fixing issues at two Keremeos housing projects

The new plan is to have the units ready for residents by the summer

Slackwater Brewing, on Martin Street, is hoping this warm, sunny weather will bring out people to their patio and rooftop patio as do the dozens of other restaurants in town counting on patio visits during these difficult times. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Perfect patio weather brings perfect chance to help out Penticton restaurants

City boasts more than 30 patios to choose from, with more patios coming downtown soon

(Photo: pixabay.com)
Morning Start: More human twins are being born now than ever before

Your morning start for Friday, April 16, 2021

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $82M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

A Canada goose honks at other birds at Salish Park on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Goose addling program underway in Vernon

2021 cull applications in process as addling program enters 15th year

The Columbia Valley Wetlands are known for their extensive and fragile ecosystem. (File photo)
Wildsight speaks out against logging in Columbia Wetlands

Located 50 kms south of Golden, the proposed operation was justified as bark beetle management

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
The Vernon Pickleball Association spotlights member Don Friesen ahead of National Volunteer Week (April 18-24, 2021). (Vernon Pickleball Association)
Volunteer praised by Vernon pickleballers

Marshall Field pickleball complex wouldn’t be possible without dedicated volunteer hours: VPA

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

John Gibson has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help care for his father Stephen McCrae-Gibson, who suffered a stroke in February and had to undergo surgery to remove a blood clot near his brain. (Contributed)
Long road ahead for Salmon Arm man recovering after stroke

Son launches GoFundMe campaign to help prepare for father’s return and rehabilitation

Most Read