Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for July 1997

This month's fungus is Cantharellus cibarius, the chanterelle.

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Cantharellus cibarius harvest

There are few fungi with the gastronomic respect afforded to the chanterelle. It is prized for cooking throughout Europe and North America, although it is far more popular in Europe. In Germany it is known as the "Pfifferling."

The chanterelle is prized for its wonderful aroma, which most people describe as "fruity, much like apricots." It is best used in dishes that bring out its wonderful aroma-- some people even make a chanterelle sorbet as a dessert! There's no more pleasant smell that that of chanterelles cooking in the kitchen. Besides the flavor and smell, their texture is very nice also. You can click on any images on his page to take you to a larger image from my gopher site.

forked ridges of chanterelle Unlike the true gilled fungi (the Agaricales), the chanterelles have (at the most) blunt ridges or folds that bear the basidia. These ridges often fork dichotomously. Cantharellus is placed by most researchers in a separate order, the Cantharellales, along with the genus Craterellus. Cantharellus usually has clamp connections on the hyphae of the fruiting body, while in Craterellus clamps are usually lacking.

Rosanne with chanterelles There are many species of chanterelles-- the exact number is still in question. A common species in Eastern North America is Cantharellus lateritius. Unlike C. cibarius, which has blunt, forking ridges on the hymenophore, C. lateritius is usually very smooth, or at least reduced blunt ridges-- hence the common name the "smooth chanterelle." Sometimes chanterelles can be found in great abundance. such as here-- this is a picture of my sister's feet with an abundance of Cantharellus lateritius, near her house in Ohio. In many areas, the chanterelles fruit in the middle of summer, usually late July, and occur under oaks or beech. In other areas chanterelles occur in the fall, and mostly under conifers. In any case they are mycorrhizal, which means the fungus has a symbiotic, mutualistic association with the roots of the tree, helping it grow, while receiving nutrients as "payment." Thus, both the tree and the fungus benefit from this relationship. Cantharellus lateritius

There are many more images of various chanterelle species in this subdirectory on my image directory.

For further information on chanterelles,, please visit Eric Danell's site in Sweden, The Cantharellus Research Group. There you will find listings of all Cantharellus researchers in the world, and learn something about the interesting research on the various chanterelle species, including the first report of cultivation of the chanterelle in a greenhouse!!

Omphalotus olearius There are a few mushrooms that the novice might confuse with the chanterelle. The most common mistake is confusing the chanterelle with the jack-o-lantern mushroom, Omphalotus olearius, which is poisonous. Both mushrooms are bright orange in color, but Omphalotus has true, sharp gills that are not forked and grow directly from wood or buried wood. Omphalotus poisoning usually manifests itself as severe cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.

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