It seems to be chanterelle season here at Curbstone Valley. For this ‘Mushroom Monday’ we bring you not one, but TWO, species of chanterelle mushrooms that are currently growing here.
Found growing just off the edge of a deer trail above the creek, we finally found our first Chanterelle mushroom of the season, Cantharellus californicus.
This chanterelle is commonly referred to as the Oak Chanterelle as it is typically found growing in association with Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) and Tanbark Oak (Lithocarpus densiflora) between the San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles.
Cantharellus californicus typically has a cream to yellow-colored convex cap between 5-30 cm broad, frequently becoming uplifted with an irregular wavy margin.
The under-surface consists of blunt, indistinct false gills running down the stem that become markedly cross-veined in maturity.
The flesh is quite thick, often waterlogged after heavy rains, and slimy to the touch. These mushrooms can become very large, weighing in excess of 1 kilogram each when wet! The stem length ranges from 3-10 cm in length, and 1-3 cm wide.
This species is often confused with Cantharellus formosus and Cantharellus cibarius, however it was recently determined by Arora and Dunham in 2008 that Cantharellus californicus is likely the only golden chanterelle species one is likely to encounter in Live Oak woodland here along the central coast of California.
Although this mushroom is a highly sought after edible species, it is reportedly not quite as flavorful as other chanterelles.
The second species of chanterelle growing here at the moment is a small colony of Black Chanterelles (Craterellus cornucopioides), also known as the Black Trumpet or Horn of Plenty. This cluster was found growing underneath some California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica) and Tanbark Oaks.
The fruiting body of the Black Chanterelle averages 2-8 cm wide, and up to 10 cm tall, with a distinctly funnel-shaped undulate cap. Cap color ranges from dark grey to almost black when moist, but may appear brown when dry.
The dull coloration of these chanterelles provides excellent camouflage against the forest floor and can make them nearly impossible to find.
In the Pacific Northwest this mushroom is typically seen growing in small clusters of 3 to 4 mushrooms.
The under-surface of this mushroom is smooth, and the stem is not always apparent until the cluster is dug from the soil.
The black chanterelle is a highly prized edible species by mushroom collectors.
Despite finding two species of Chanterelles this week, as our weather is slowly becoming more spring-like we are seeing significantly less fungi on our hikes around the property. As such, barring any significant rainfall, we expect that over the next couple of weeks our ‘Mushroom Mondays’ will be drawing to a close for this season.