Chanterelles of Arkansas.

By Renn Tumlison,

 Although fortunate, and often persistent, mushroom hunters collect both yellow and black varieties of morels in Arkansas, the season for morel hunting is always short in duration – usually being measured in days – and certainly no longer than a couple of weeks in any given area. Adding to the frustration of morel hunters is the uncertainty of whether morels will even make an appearance in a given spring. Lack of rain at a critical time or the appearance of a late season killing frost limits the possibility of collecting morels, and hapless hunters will just have to wait unit the following Spring to look for them.<br /><br />Contrast the uncertainties of collecting morels with those of collecting a group of mushrooms known as chanterelles. Chanterelles not only have a much longer fruiting season (months instead of weeks) but they are so widely distributed in the plentiful oak-hickory and mixed forests in Arkansas that they are considered common if not ubiquitous mushrooms.<br /><br />Chanterelles are not restricted to Arkansas or even North America. Indeed, golden or yellow chanterelles occur in Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa, and in many countries they are collected and sold in local food markets. The North American distribution of chanterelles is not uniform. Whereas the largest chanterelles can be found in the Western part of the United States, the largest diversity of chanterelles seems to be in the Southeastern and Southern regions.<br /><br />In Arkansas, one can find a variety of chanterelles that often can be differentiated by their primary colors of yellow-orange, red, or black. Although the family that contains chanterelles (Cantharellaceae) contains 5 or 6 genera (depending on the source that is consulted), the chanterelles found in our state all belong to only 2 of these genera, Cantharellus and Craterellus.<br /><br />Perhaps a good place to begin the study of chanterelles is to learn what they are NOT! They are NOT gilled mushrooms; therefore they should not be classified as such in mushroom field guides. The hymenium, which produces sexual spores, is located underneath the cap of a mushroom and it sometimes will have a gilled appearance. The hymenia of many, if not most, species of Cantharellus – and to a lesser extent some species of Craterellus – certainly resemble the truly gilled hymenia of members of the order Agaricales. In the chanterelles, however, the “gills” are more appropriately described as “gill-like ridges.”<br /><br />One difference between true gills and these gill-like ridges is that the ridges present on the underside of chanterelle caps are blunt on the edges, rather than narrow or knife-like as they are in the mushrooms with true gills. In addition, many small veins run between the blunt-edged ridges of a chanterelle, so the hymenium is described as being cross-veined. Following is a look at the different kinds of chanterelles that may occur in Arkansas.



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

Red Chanterelles

Unlike yellow and black chanterelles, of which there are a large number of forms in Arkansas, the variety of red-colored chanterelles is very limited. Within our state occurs only one red chanterelle (Cantharellus cinnabarinus) which is small in stature but very common. If a second species of red chanterelle (C. persicinus) really does occur in Arkansas, it is rare. 

Red Combo

Cantharellus cinnabarinus Schweinitz (Fig. 9). This is our common red-colored chanterelle. It is a small-sized species with the caps ranging from 0.375 to 2.5 inches (1 – 6.4 cm) in diameter. Color of the cap is flamingo pink to vermillion or a bright reddish orange, making this chanterelle easy to identify. The gill-like ridges and stem are the same color as the top of the cap, but these bright colors often fade with age due to exposure to sunlight. The ridges are blunt, cross-veined, and run down the stem. These chanterelles are found throughout Arkansas, occurring in groups in mixed forests and often close to pine trees. They have the same fruiting season as Cantharellus lateritius. Specimens of both C. lateritius and C. cinnabarinus may be found fruiting in the same or adjacent areas. 

Cantharellus persicinus R.H. Petersen. This species was described from collections made in a mixed forest containing oak and hemlock in Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. It is somewhat of a robust chanterelle with stems that can be 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length. Caps can be up to almost 3 inches in diameter. The salmon to peach color of the cap is the distinguishing feature of this chanterelle. Color of its gill-like ridges is pallid salmon when young, fading to yellow salmon with age. Cantharellus persicinus has been found in Tennessee, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It is a very uncommon to rarely collected chanterelle, but the senior author may have found it once in Arkansas, fruiting under oak. 

Cantharellus Clearfork

Yellow Chanterelles

Cantharellus Cibarius Sensu Lato

Cantharellus cibarius Fries. Because there are no voucher specimens available from the original description of this species of chanterelle, no one really knows the exact characteristics of the original collections (and, therefore, of the species)! As more DNA analyses are performed on chanterelles, this taxon likely will be revised and what we are calling C. cibarius in North America may turn out to be a variety of chanterelle species, each having its own unique name. Until then, we will continue to see this name used in mushroom field guides and species lists. Cantharellus cibarius is not the largest or the most common of our yellow chanterelles, but some mycophagists (people who eat mushrooms) consider it to be the best edible yellow chanterelle. Characteristics of this mushroom include a cap that is usually 1.5 – 6 inches (3.8 – 15.2 cm) in diameter and often appears flattened to slightly depressed. All parts of the cap and stem are some shade of bright yellow, i.e., golden yellow or egg yolk yellow. The color of the flesh usually is white. This chanterelle often is one of the earliest species to appear. In central Arkansas, one can find young specimens of this chanterelle at the end of May and mature specimens by the middle of June. Although their growing season is not as long as some of the other chanterelles, they usually can be seen through June and sometimes into July. The Gulf States Mycological Society web site ( suggests that some mycologists consider specimens of C. cibarius that have a white stem to be a variety, provisionally given the name C. cibarius var albiceps. This form likely is not restricted to the Gulf Coastal area, and it eventually may be found in Arkansas.

Cantharellus amethysteus (Quél.) Sacc. Representing another chanterelle found in Arkansas, this tentative name describes a close relative of C. cibarius. Whether this form really is the same mushroom as the European C. amethysteus is unknown at this time. This chanterelle has the overall stature of C. cibarius, but it has small scales that turn upward and are colored purple to purple-brown. As the purple pigment oxidizes, these scales slowly become brown in color. The expansion of the cap often creates a mosaic image with yellow and brown colors. This chanterelle has been collected in Pulaski County in July and it likely occurs in other counties in the state.

Cantharellus amethysteus
Canth Lat Combo

Cantharellus lateritius (Berkeley) Sing. Formerly called Craterellus cantharellus, this is the most common yellow chanterelle in Arkansas. Characteristics of this mushroom include: caps that usually are 1 – 6 inches (2.5 – 15.2 cm) in diameter, colored yellow to yellow orange, and often having a depressed center with the edges becoming wavy. Sometimes these mushrooms can resemble yellow flowers when viewed from above. The easiest way to distinguish C. lateritius from C. cibarius is to notice that the hymenia of C. lateritius do not have the prominent gill-like ridges present in C. cibarius. The hymenia of C. lateritius have shallow ridges closer to the stalk, which become smooth closer to the edge of their caps. This chanterelle tends to have an overall look of a yellow funnel at times. It tends to fruit during the summer months, (July – August) but it can be found as late as September or even October. The species occurs throughout the state wherever oak trees occur. 

Cantharellus confluens (Berkely & M. A. Curtis) R. H. Peterson. This chanterelle is similar to C. lateritius in color and stature but it differs by having 2 or more individuals fused together at a common base. Collections fitting the description of this mushroom have been found in Arkansas. However, there is controversy (where is there not controversy when humans apply names to biota?) as to whether this is a distinct species or simply a different growth form of C. lateritius. DNA analysis should help resolve this controversy. 

Cantharellus confluens
Cantharellus minor

Cantharellus minor (Peck). As its name suggests, this species has the distinction of being the smallest of the yellow chanterelles. Its cap typically is one-third to three-fourths inches (0.8 – 2.0 cm) in diameter with a depressed center that becomes flat or sunken, and finally funnel-shaped. The color of the cap is bright yellow to dull yellow with age. This chanterelle is widely distributed in Arkansas and can be found from June through September.

 Cantharellus ignicolor R.H. Petersen. A cap that is 0.5 to 2 inches (1.3 – 5.1 cm) in diameter, with a wavy margin and having a convex shape with a depression or sunken center, characterizes this chanterelle. The color of the cap is apricot orange to yellow orange becoming dingy with age. The hymenium is colored orange-yellow becoming wine-buff to violet tinged with age. Cantharellus ignicolor can be found associated with pines or in mixed pine/hardwood forests. It is widely distributed in Arkansas, but not as common as other chanterelle species.

Ignicolor Combo

Cantharellus tabernensis Feibelman & Cibula. This chanterelle was described from collections made in a well-drained mixed forest area in coastal Mississippi. It also has been collected under pines in boggy edges next to swamp. Cantharellus tabernensis is characterized by a cap that typically is 1 to 1.75 inches (2.5 – 4.4 cm) in diameter, incurved at the edge, and becoming flat with age. Color of the cap is light to moderate orange-yellow with a darker center. The stem and hymenium are colored vivid orange-yellow – which is a distinctive taxonomic feature. It is said to have a fragrant odor, reminiscent of apricots. It likely occurs in Arkansas. 

 Cantharellus appalachiensis Petersen. Occurring in the South and Southeastern regions of the U.S, the features of this chanterelle include a cap that is dull brown in color and 0.5 to 2 inches (1.3 – 5.1 cm) in diameter. The stem has a dull brown color like the cap and is 0.6 to 2 inches (1.5 – 5.1 cm) in length. Cantharellus appalachiensis is known from the New England area, Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri and Texas. Because it has been collected in states adjacent to Arkansas, it may also occur in our state.

Cantharellus appalachiensis
Craterellus odoratus

Craterellus odoratus (Schweinitz:Fries). An easily identifiable yellow chanterelle, this species is composed of yellow trumpet-shaped fruiting bodies that are fused together at the base. Typical size of the individual fruiting bodies is in the range of 1 – 3.75 inches (2.5 – 9.5 cm) wide and 1 – 2.5 inches (2.5 – 6.4 cm) tall. Clusters can be up to 8 – 10 inches (20.3 – 25.4 cm) across. Although this chanterelle is very common along the Gulf Coast, it likely occurs in Arkansas, but it would be rare. The species name “odoratus” is derived from the fact that the mushroom is described as having the odor of violets. 

 Cantharellus lutescens and Cantharellus xanthopus are former names for two chanterelles that have only recently been synonymized. At some point in the future, the taxon will be in the genus Craterellus, under the newly proposed name of Craterellus aurora. This chanterelle is small in size, with a cap usually only 0.75 to 1.5 inches (1.9 – 3.8 cm) in diameter. The cap is covered with small brown fibrils that make the cap appear to be brown when it is young. At maturity, the cap appears to be streaked with orange as the base color manifests itself as the fibrils spread apart. This form is known from eastern North America and appears to be more common from the Great Lakes region and areas north.

White Chanterelles

 A large robust white chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus), that is listed as a choice edible in most mushroom field guides, occurs in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It is not expected that this species of mushroom will be seen east of the Rocky Mountains, however, a white chanterelle has been seen in southern Mississippi (near Wiggins, MS) and in central Florida (in Tallahassee). Those collections of chanterelles had the overall stature of C. cibarius or C. lateritius, but were lacking any yellow or orange pigmentation. Conversations with other mycologists lead to a belief that such sightings are quite rare. Therefore, if any readers come across chanterelles that appear to be lacking in the usual pigments, please contact Jay Justice at so the find can be documented and voucher specimens made.

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