Black Chanterelles

Black Combo

Craterellus cornucopioides (L.) Pers. (Fig. 10) is the most common black chanterelle collected in Arkansas. Some common names that have been applied to it include “Black Trumpets” and “Poor man’s Truffle.” This mushroom resembles a black-colored vertical cornucopia or a tubular shaped ancestor of the trumpet. They usually are 1.75 to 2.75 inches (4.4 – 7.0 cm) wide at the top and up to 4 inches (10.2 cm) tall. They are tubular when young, becoming deeply vase-shaped without a clearly defined stem and cap. Inside the trumpet, the surface is colored dark gray to black, often with fine scales appearing as dark fibers. The surface outside the trumpet is smooth or very shallowly wrinkled. Freshly collected specimens possess a very delicate, sweet, fruity aroma that often is difficult to detect with only a few specimens. The best way to experience their aroma is to place several specimens in a wax bag and let them stay for several minutes before the bag is opened and exposed to the nose. Their odor when dried and powdered has been described as “cheesy.” Craterellus cornucopioides usually has two fruiting seasons in Arkansas. They have been found on well drained hillsides during May in central Arkansas, before the yellow and red chanterelles appear. During the fall (October – November), they have been collected in low lying areas. Look for them under oaks, especially black-jack oaks (Quercus marilandica). For many years, mycologists believed that C. cornucopioides was very rare in North America and that it could be differentiated from a commonly collected look-alike called C. fallax by the color of its spores. Many mushroom field guides note that C. cornucopioides has white spores and C. fallax has yellow to salmon colored spores. Recently, DNA analysis has convinced mycologists that both mushrooms are really the same species. Thus, C. fallax was synonymized with C. cornucopioides and many field mycologists breathed a collective sigh of relief, because there was now one less name to remember!  

Craterellus foetidus A.H. Smith is likely the second most common black chanterelle found in Arkansas. It is similar in appearance to C. cornucopioides but it can be distinguished by the presence of fairly well developed wrinkles and folds that are obvious on the outer surface underneath the cap. As the name suggests, field guides often describe it as having a sickeningly sweet odor, that may be difficult to detect in other than fresh, mature specimens. Features include a fruiting body up to 4 inches (10.2 cm) tall and 1 – 2.5 inches (2.5 – 6.4 cm) wide at the top. The fruiting bodies are tubular at first but soon become shaped like an inverted trumpet or vase. The edge of the cap is rolled under when the mushroom is young and there are well developed wrinkles and folds on the outer surface (most noticeable underneath the cap). This chanterelle tends to have an overall stockier appearance than C. cornucopioides. It is not as common as C. cornucopioides, but it has been seen by the senior author several times over the years. 

Craterellus foetidus Combo

Craterellus cinereus (Pers.) Fr. is similar in appearance to C. foetidus in many aspects, i.e. odor at maturity and well-developed folds on the undersurface of the fruiting bodies, but it differs by having a stem that is smaller in diameter, and by being less evenly vase-shaped. It is known to occur in northern and eastern hardwood forests. 

Pseudocraterellus calyculus (Berk. & M.A. Curtis) D.A. Reid. This mushroom has the distinction of being the smallest sized black chanterelle. Its differs from the other black chanterelles because it is not shaped like a trumpet or vase. Features include a cap that can be up to 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) wide and appearing to have fine scales. The cap is colored dark brown to blackish and often will appear with an unturned margin, giving it an overall appearance of being “crisped.” Other references list this mushroom as being found in moss under hardwoods in damp, shady areas and occurring east of the Rockies, thus it is possible that it might occur in Arkansas. 

Pseudocraterellus calyculus
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