Major Groups > Chanterelles and Trumpets


Chanterelles and Trumpets: Cantharellus and Craterellus     

[ Basidiomycetes > Cantharellales . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

The mushrooms in the genera Cantharellus and Craterellus have fairly well defined caps and stems, or are vase-shaped to trumpet-shaped. Their spore-bearing surfaces occur on the underside of the cap (or the "outer" side of the "vase"), and range from smooth to wrinkled, to furrowed so regularly and deeply that the wrinkles look like gills--but are actually false gills, rather than blade-like or plate-like structures that are clearly separate from the rest of the cap.

These days Cantharellus and Craterellus are in a state of flux as a result of DNA studies that have shaken the traditional arrangements. Species of Gomphus, historically treated with Cantharellus and Craterellus in the Cantharellaceae family, are apparently more closely related to stinkhorns and coral mushrooms than to the chanterelles. The lines defining Cantharellus and Craterellus are also being re-drawn, and some species that traditionally belonged to Cantharellus (Craterellus tubaeformis, for example) have been transfered to Craterellus. See the Cantharellus/Craterellus Clade for more information.

I suspect that ecology may eventually help to sort out the species in Cantharellus and Craterellus. Species of Cantharellus in the "cibarius group" are mycorrhizal partners with trees, while other "Cantharellus" species may be saprobes, helping to decompose forest debris--and it is these potentially saprobic species that appear to be genetically closer to Craterellus than to Cantharellus. I have often wondered whether it would be worth exploring a potential relationship between some species of Craterellus and moss, since the organisms often seem to appear together.

Identification of chanterelles and trumpets is not particularly difficult, in most cases, and can usually be accomplished without using a microscope. Close, diligent observation of macroscopic features, combined with information about habitat and collection location, usually provides the data needed for identification--at least, for the time being. These mushrooms are currently under mycological scrutiny, and the picture is likely to change!


Cantharellus cinnabarinus

Craterellus cornucopioides

Cantharellus californicus

Cantharellus cibarius

Craterellus cornucopioides

  Key to 30+ Cantharellus and Craterellus Taxa in North America

1.Mature mushroom medium-sized to large; fairly tough and fleshy; often with a central depression that is coarsely scaly; some species growing in clusters with shared stem bases; spores somewhat wrinkled or warted (not smooth).

1.Mature mushroom variously sized; fleshy or thin-fleshed; without a coarsely scaly central depression (or, if so, then thin-fleshed); growing alone, gregariously, or in clusters but not sharing stems (with two exceptions); spores smooth.

2.Mushrooms small to medium-sized; either thin-fleshed and vase-shaped--or with a hollowing stem and often, at maturity, a perforation in the center of the cap; often growing in or near moss or sphagnum.

2.Mushrooms variously sized; fleshy; not becoming hollow in the stem or developing a perforation in the center of the cap; usually not growing in moss or sphagnum.

3.Yellow to orange shades present, at least on the undersurface and/or stem.

3.Yellow to orange shades absent--except, perhaps, as a faint dusting on the under surface of mature specimens.

4.Under or outer surface smooth, wrinkled, or somewhat veined--but without well developed false gills.

4.Under or outer surface with well developed false gills.

5.Mushroom thin-fleshed and deeply vase-shaped, without a clearly defined cap.

5.Cap and stem fairly clearly defined.

6.Individual caps sharing stem bases in dense, tightly-packed clusters; caps sometimes fused together at their edges; distribution primarily in the Gulf Coast states and Mexico.
Craterellus odoratus

6.Stem bases not shared; caps not fusing together; rare on the West Coast and even more rare (or absent) elsewhere.

Craterellus species 01

rare pale form; = C. konradii

7.Cap surface with tiny brownish fibers over a yellowish to orangish base color, usually developing tiny scales by maturity (use a hand lens).
Craterellus aurora
= C. lutescens & C. xanthopus

7.Cap surface yellow and smooth, or with yellow fibers.
Craterellus luteocomus
at Roger's Mushrooms

8.Mature cap surface brown.

8.Mature cap surface yellow to orange.

9.Found in well drained pine-hardwood forests in the Gulf Coast states, usually near slash pine.
Craterellus tabernensis

9.Found elsewhere. (See also Cantharellus minor.)

10.Growing in early spring in eastern North America, attached to hardwood sticks or hardwood debris; goblet-shaped or cup-shaped.

10.Not as above.

11.Blue to purplish shades present in fresh, young specimens.

11.Blue to purplish shades absent.

12.Growing in dense clusters, often with stem bases fused, under conifers in northern and montane North America.

12.Growing scattered or gregariously (not in dense clusters) in sphagnum bogs in the Great Lakes region.
Craterellus caeruleofuscus

13.Mature under or outer surface smooth to shallowly wrinkled.

13.Mature under or outer surface prominently wrinkled or veined.

14.Mature mushrooms wider than 2 cm across.

14.Mature mushrooms less than 2 cm across.

15.Known from North Carolina "in small clusters on wood or deep woody humus" (Petersen 1969); cap edge hairy to fringed; spores 8-10.5 x 5-7 µ.
Craterellus carolinensis

15.Not completely as above.

16.Spores 10-12 µ long.

16.Spores 6-8 µ long.
Craterellus subundulatus
see Craterellus calyculus

17.Mushrooms deeply vase-shaped or tubular from the beginning; odor sweet and strong; usually growing in clusters of 2-4 mushrooms; found in eastern North America's hardwood forests.

17.Mushrooms not vase-shaped or tubular from the beginning, but developing a central depression or perforation with maturity; odor variable; growing alone, gregariously, or in dense clusters; distributed variously.

18.Known from South America and Central America; growing alone, scattered, or in small clusters.
Craterellus boyacensis
at Macrofungi of Costa Rica

18.Known from North America--primarily in disturbed-ground areas (road banks, paths, etc.) in northern and eastern hardwood forests; often growing in tightly packed clusters of 3 or more mushrooms.
Craterellus cinereus

19.Known from Central America under oaks; cap surface purplish gray; false gills creamy.
Cantharellus atrolilacinus
at Macrofungi of Costa Rica

19.Not as above.

20.Found in western North America.

20.Found east of the Rocky Mountains.

21.Cap, false gills, and stem white, bruising orangish brown; growing under conifers.

21.Not as above.

22.Growing under spruces (especially Engelmann spruce); cap surface dull yellow, with a pinkish bloom when very young; false gills brilliant orange, frequently contrasting markedly with the cap; surfaces not bruising brownish to brownish orange when handled.

22.Not completely as above.

23.Growing under hemlock, Douglas-fir, spruce, or lodgepole pine in the coastal Pacific Northwest; false gills usually distinctly pinkish when young; cap surface developing small scales and appressed fibers; stem often tapered gracefully to the base.

23.Not completely as above.

24.Growing under coast live oak in northern California; cap smooth and egg-yolk yellow; false gills usually yellow; stem not usually tapered to base; often massive; often pushing up through forest debris so that leaves and mud stick to the mushrooms' surfaces.

24.Not completely as above.

25.Growing under hemlock or Douglas-fir in the Pacific Northwest; false gills pale orange yellow when young; cap sometimes fading to whitish from the center outwards; stem usually club-shaped or swollen; cap surface smooth or very finely hairy but not typically developing tiny scales.
Cantharellus cascadensis

25.Not completely as above.

26.Cap, false gills, and stem bright cinnabar red.

26.Cinnabar red shades absent.

27.Surfaces bruising purple; recorded from North Carolina.
Gloeocantharellus purpurascens
Full description and photo on page 182 of Giachini, 2004

27.Purple bruising absent.

28.Under surface smooth, shallowly wrinkled, or with broad and poorly developed false gills.

28.False gills well developed.

29.Usually with multiple cap-like structures arising from one or more single or conglomerated stem structures; southeastern in distribution (Ohio to Mexico).

29.With a single, well defined cap arising from a single stem; widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains.

30.Cap brown or brownish, at least in the center, when the mushroom is young.

30.Cap not brown or brownish in any stage of development.

31.Growing in pine-hardwood forests (usually near slash pine) in the Gulf Coast states; mature cap orange-yellow; surfaces not changing color with iron salts.
Cantharellus tabernensis

31.Growing under hardwoods from Missouri to the Great Lakes and the Appalachian Mountains; mature cap brownish yellow or yellow; surfaces reddish with iron salts.

32.Cap peach colored; false gills pale salmon; found under oaks or hemlock in the Appalachians.

32.Peach shades absent; ecology and distribution variable.

33.Mature cap small (0.5-3 cm across), with a fragile and waxy texture; stem becoming hollow.

33.Mature cap variously sized but usually larger than above, not fragile or waxy; stem fleshy.


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Kuo, M. (2011, February). Chanterelles and trumpets: Cantharellus and Craterellus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

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