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Cantharellus californicus

[ Basidiomycetes > Cantharellales > Cantharellus . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Chanterelle collectors in coastal California are familiar with a large chanterelle that appears in fall and winter under live oak, especially after heavy rains. They call it the "mud puppy," and it is a messy, bright egg-yolk yellow mushroom that pushes up through muddy debris, often creating "mushrumps" on the forest floor. It lacks the gracefully tapered stem, tiny scales, and pinkish hues in the false gills of Cantharellus formosus, and has passed for many years as "Cantharellus cibarius." However, a recent paper (Arora & Dunham, 2008) has finally provided a name for this distinctive species: Cantharellus californicus.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with California live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and occasionally with other oaks or tanoak; growing alone, scattered or gregariously in fall and winter; often pushing up through mud and forest debris after heavy rains and remaining partially covered; California, from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.

Cap: 5-30 cm across; at first planoconvex with an inrolled margin, becoming broadly convex, flat, or shallowly depressed with an inrolled, uplifted, or irregular-wavy margin; the center not becoming perforated; fairly smooth; egg-yolk yellow, often with scattered areas of a whitish, filmy coating; sticky to nearly slimy when fresh.

Undersurface: With well developed false gills that run down the stem; colored like the cap or paler; by maturity with frequent cross-veins, or becoming elaborately veined to nearly poroid.

Stem: 3-10 cm long and 1-4 cm thick; fairly stocky; equal; more or less smooth; pale yellow; discoloring and bruising slowly orangish brown, especially near the base; fleshy.

Flesh: Whitish; thick; stringy; water-logged when wet; not changing color when sliced and exposed to air.

Chemical Reactions: Flesh and false gills gray to grayish with iron salts.

Odor and Taste: Taste mild; odor fragrant and sweet.

Spore Print: Yellowish.

Microscopic Features: Spores 7-12 x 4-8 µ; smooth; more or less elliptical. Basidia 2- to 8-spored; to 130 µ long. Clamp connections present.

REFERENCES: Arora & Dunham, 2008. (Kuo, 2007; Kuo, 2007 [100 Edible Mushrooms]; Arora & Dunham, 2008.) Herb. Kuo 01120606.

Note: The species featured here appeared previously (from August 2007 to February 2009) as "Cantharellus species 01: The Mud Puppy."

Further Online Information:

"Cantharellus cibarius" as described at MykoWeb appears to match Cantharellus californicus.


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Cantharellus species

Cantharellus species

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Iron Salts

Cantharellus species

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Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2009, February). Cantharellus californicus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: