Chanterelles

Cantharellaceae (various members of family)

chantarelle.jpg

Image of smooth chanterelle
MDC Staff
Edible
Family

Cantharellaceae

Description

Chanterelles are funnel- or trumpet-shaped and have wavy cap edges. Most are bright orange or yellow, although one, the black trumpet, is brownish black. Fresh chanterelles have a pleasant, fruity fragrance. To make sure you have a chanterelle, check the underside of the cap. Some species of chanterelles are nearly smooth underneath, while others have a network of wrinkles or gill-like ridges running down the stem. The ridges have many forks and crossveins and are always blunt-edged. Chanterelles do not have true gills, such as those found on the poisonous but similar jack-o’-lantern mushroom, which are sharp-edged and knifelike.

Size

Height: 1–6 inches; width: ½–6 inches.

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Photo of golden chanterelles, yellow and white vase-shaped mushrooms
Golden Chanterelles

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Photo of smooth chanterelles, vase-shaped yellow and white mushrooms
Smooth Chanterelle

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Photo of two black trumpets, dark brown vase-shaped mushrooms on mossy ground
Black Trumpet (Horn of Plenty; Black Chanterelle; Trumpet of the Dead)
Habitat and conservation

Chanterelles can be found in the same habitat that favors morels: on the ground in hardwood forests. They will always be found on the ground in grass or leaf litter, never on decaying wood or trees (which can be buried), and while they may be found singly, they grow more commonly in scattered groups, often in large areas. Make note of where you find them—they will reappear annually. All mushrooms favor moist conditions and are less numerous in dry years.

image of Chanterelles Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide, particularly in moist woodlands and in river bottoms.

Status

Common in suitable habitats.

Life cycle

These organisms spend most of the time as a network of fungal cells (mycelium) in the soil, associated symbiotically with tree roots. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops mushrooms, which produce spores, which create new mycelia elsewhere. The fruiting season of chanterelles begins in May and continues through October. Early fall is a good time to search because heavy undergrowth and insect pests are on the decline, and fallen leaves haven’t hidden them yet.

Human connections

Chanterelles are a great favorite of European chefs and are becoming more popular in the United States. The market for them is growing. If you collect more than you can eat, preserve extra chanterelles by sautéing, then freezing. Recipes for them abound.

Ecosystem connections

A variety of organisms, from tiny insects to mammals, eat chanterelles. The fungus that gives rise to the mushroom forms mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationships with roots of trees, helping them to absorb water and nutrients while the trees provide nourishment to the fungus.