Craterellus tubaeformis---- Tubies, in honor of mushroom forays and fairs in California.

Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for January 2008

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Craterellus tubaeformis, tubies

Our first Fungus of the Month for 2008 honors mushroom collecting in January! In Wisconsin, where I live, this is a very difficult task. Sure, you can find old polypores, old Stereum, carbon balls, and sometimes, during a thaw, even the winter mushroom, Flammulina velutipes. One of my students, Dan Hamilton, just found some oyster mushrooms from under the snow at a local ski hill. However, finding lots of mushrooms in the winter involves some sort of trip for us Wisconsinites. This year, it's California for me and a few of my students.

It's great to visit my friends in California again this year. First I will be going to the Mushroom Fair for the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz the weekend of January 12-13. A mushroom fair is an event where all the members go out and collect as many different kinds of mushrooms as they can find and display them in an interesting way in a museum or natural sort of setting. I have never been to the FFSC Mushroom Fair, but it is supposed to be one of the best. Next I will be lecturing on Tuesday at the Mycological Society of San Francisco monthly meeting. On Wednesday it's back to Santa Cruz to speak at their monthly meeting. On Thursday, I'll pick up a few of my students from the San Francisco airport, and we'll go to Santa Rosa, where I'll speak at the monthly meeting of the Sonoma County Mycological Association, a.k.a. SOMA. On the weekend I'll be at SOMA camp in the nearby redwoods, with great people and fantastic gourmet food (and maybe a little Sonoma County wine...). It will be a fun 12 days.

*Lots* of tubies ready to be cooked and eatenI'm sure that one of the mushrooms we will definitely find will be Craterellus tubaeformis, locally called "Tubies" because of the hollow stalk that manifests itself as a tube through the top of the cap. Sometimes they are also called the winter chanterelle or yellow-foot. Like other chanterelles, such as Cantharellus cibarius and Craterellus fallax, tubies do not have true gills like "regular" mushrooms, but rather have blunt folds on the underside of the cap where their basidia bear basidiospores. Unlike the agarics, the basidium layer of chanterelles is continuous over the apices of the ridges. The blunt ridges of chanterelles also frequently fork dichotomously. These may not seem like significant differences, but they highlights the different evolutionary origins of the agarics and the chanterelles. This dissimilarity has also held up very well under the scrutiny of DNA sequence analysis.

I find the taste of tubies to be very pleasant, although they do no have the fruity, aromatic odor of the other chanterelles. They can often be found in huge abundance, as shown from the kitchen of SOMA camp to the right. Many people pickle them for later use during the dry summers in California, when there are very few mushrooms. Like the other chanterelles, tubies can also be frozen after first being parboiled. It's best to store them in their own juices to avoid freezer burn. Some people spread out their excess tubies on a cookie sheet and freeze them (so they don't stick together), afterwards placing them into a Ziploc bag in the freezer. The only one of these three species that can be dried are Craterellus fallax, although I think they are better frozen.

many tubies under a pine in CaliforniaHowever, in order to have this dilemma, one must first find the chanterelles! So far as we know, all chanterelles are mycorrhizal, meaning they have a mutualistic association with the roots of trees. In fact, they are so dependent on the trees for their food that they are very difficult to culture on their own. In northern California, tubies can be found under conifers such as pines, spruces, and firs. Sometimes they grow in great abundance, such as you see to the left. In fact I don't think I ever heard anyone use the word "tubie" as a singular noun-- there's always more than one!!! This assemblage of tubies represents just a small part of a huge gregarious troop of tubies that completely surrounded this pine tree. It's fun to find a huge group like this and just sit on the forest floor picking mushrooms. The only drawback of this is walking around the rest of the day with a wet butt. Sometimes when it's not as wet the tubies are not as abundant, but you can often find them amongst the wet patches of moss that are found most everywhere.

European Craterellus tubaeformis from SloveniaHowever. there is a always taxonomic controversy to talk about in our mushroom discussions. There may be up to a dozen orange/yellow species of Craterellusin North America that could be mistaken for Craterellus tubaeformis, which is known in some books as C. infundibuliformis, although it's not clear that only one species is represented . Some of the other already have names of their own, such as C. ignicolor, which has a yellow-orange cap instead of the brown cap of C. tubaeformis. Craterellus aurorae is similar because of its brown cap, but the brown color is because of abundant fibrils on the top that obscure the orange/yellow color underneath. To me it is unclear what species are actually referred to by the names Craterellus xanthopus, Craterellus lutescens, Craterellus cantharellus and Craterellus appalachiensis. I think much more study has to be done to reconcile the molecular biology and the morphology.

All that being said, it is still unclear if we have the *real* Craterellus tubaeformis in North America. To the right you can see what are certainly Craterellus tubaeformis from my recent trip to Slovenia. These European specimens look very similar, but more work needs to be done to see if they are morphologically and phylogenetically the same species. Bulliard and Fries originally described this species from Europe, so that name would take precedence in Europe should the species be found to be different.

Michael Kuo has published an excellent discussion of the Craterellus/ Cantharellus group of organisms here at

I hope you enjoyed learning about tubies and their relatives. I also hope you get to go to California someday for some mushroom fairs or forays. You deserve a break from the cold, don't you think?

If you have anything to add, or if you have corrections, comments, or recommendations for future FotM's (or maybe you'd like to be co-author of a FotM?), please write to me at my email address

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