A Cone that is Not a Cone

During a mushroom hunting walk at Merville Woods yesterday we came upon several Vancouver Groundcone (Boschniakia hookeri). Like the name suggests, this root parasite looks like a fir cone. It is actually a parasite that is connected to the roots of nearby plants, in particular Salal (Gaultheria shallon), which is common and commercially harvested in Merville Woods.

According to Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Pojar and MacKinnon) a single groundcone can produce more than 330,000 seeds. We definitely saw quite a few seed heads underneath the salal so this number doesn’t surprise me! The flowers range in colour from yellow to red to purple.

Vancouver Groundcone | Boschniakia hookeri
Vancouver Groundcone | Boschniakia hookeri with Douglas Fir cone

Compare the Douglas Fir cone and the Vancouver Groundcone in the image above – can you tell the difference?

Read more about Salal in Jocie’s blog post Simply Salal.