Major Groups > Chanterelles and Trumpets > "Cantharellus cibarius"


"Cantharellus cibarius": The Chanterelle

[ Basidiomycetes > Cantharellales > Cantharellus . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Chanterelles, labeled "Cantharellus cibarius" in most field guides, grow on the ground in woods, and are usually fairly easy to spot; they are medium-sized or large, yellow to orange-yellow mushrooms that feature a broadly convex, flat, or shallowly depressed cap, a central and fleshy stem, and false gills on the underside of the cap. Chanterelles are well known for their fruity, apricot-like odor, best detected when you have several of them together in your collection bag or basket.

If you have found a chanterelle in North American woods, you might as well call it "Cantharellus cibarius," as your field guide does. My key to Cantharellus and Craterellus will help you sort out some of the named, North American, cibarius-like species (they start at Couplet # 20), but to be honest there may not be such a thing as "Cantharellus cibarius" (a species named from Sweden in the 19th Century) in North America.

Recent studies have split four chanterelles from western North America, Cantharellus formosus, Cantharellus californicus, Cantharellus cibarius var. roseocanus, and Cantharellus cascadensis, away from the North American concept of Cantharellus cibarius, and more species will probably be named in the near future. So you can see that "Cantharellus cibarius" deserves a healthy set of quote marks.

The description below is based on my collections from eastern North America (from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) and on the descriptions of Smith (1968) and Bigelow (1978), whose eastern Cantharellus cibarius descriptions did not combine eastern and western data.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with hardwoods--especially oaks; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously in summer and fall; from the Great Plains eastward.

Cap: 1.5-15 cm across; more or less convex when young (often with an inrolled margin); becoming flat or shallowly depressed, with a wavy and irregular margin; tacky when wet; bald or with a few tiny appressed fibers; pale yellow to egg-yolk yellow to almost orange.

Undersurface: With well developed false gills that sometimes feature cross-veins; running deeply down the stem; colored like the cap or paler; sometimes staining brownish to orangish.

Stem: 2.5-8 cm long; 1-2 cm thick; extremely variable in shape (from thin, more or less equal, and graceful to thick, stocky and nearly club-shaped); smooth below the false gills; colored like the cap or paler; sometimes bruising brownish to orangish.

Flesh: White; solid; unchanging when sliced.

Odor and Taste: Taste not distinctive or slightly peppery; odor fragrant and sweet, like apricots.

Chemical Reactions: KOH on cap negative to reddish; ammonia on cap negative. Flesh fleetingly reddish, then pinkish gray to gray with iron salts; false gills grayish to dark gray with iron salts.

Spore Print: Pale yellow to creamy white.

Microscopic Features: Spores 7-11 x 4.5-6 µ; smooth; ellipsoid; inamyloid; hyaline in KOH. Basidia to about 100 x 10 µ; 4-6-sterigmate. Clamp connections present.

REFERENCES: Fries, 1821. (Coker, 1919; Smith, 1968; Bigelow, 1978; Weber & Smith, 1985; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Kuo, 2007; Binion et al., 2008.) Herb. Kuo 06249402, 06130206, 07220303, 07180702.

Cantharellus cibarius var. pallidifolius (illustrated) was described by Smith (1968) from Michigan as "a variant with a large heavy basidiocarp which stains readily, has pallid gills in fresh young rapidly developing pilei, and has a pink tint to the spore deposit." I have collected this entity many times in Emmet County, Michigan (where the type collection was made) under big-toothed aspen, beech, and other hardwoods, and it is indeed notable for its stocky stature; it is also notable for its consistently pale (often nearly white) stem and its rapid, dark orangish brown bruising. The varietal name was misapplied by Thiers (1985) to the California species now known as Cantharellus californicus.

A miniature form of Cantharellus cibarius can be found in Illinois, and probably elsewhere, usually growing in moss under oaks, with caps to about 3 cm across. It is identical to the normal form in all macrofeatures except size; see the illustration. Unlike Cantharellus minor, it has stocky, cibarius-like proportions. It may be the same entity Smith (1968) labeled "Cantharellus friesii" in Michigan, growing "under hardwoods on moss and litter" with caps to 30 mm across, orange colors, an orangish spore print, and a "dull vinaceous" reaction to iron salts.

Petersen (1969, 1985) informally described a "yellow-spored form" and a "cream-spored form" of Cantharellus cibarius in North America, but subsequent investigations have not upheld a division of cibarius-like taxa based on spore print color.

Further Online Information:

Cantharellus cibarius at Tom Volk's Fungi
Cantharellus cibarius at Roger's Mushrooms


Cantharellus cibarius

Cantharellus cibarius

Cantharellus cibarius
Iron Salts

Cantharellus cibarius

Cantharellus cibarius
Miniature Form (see comments)

Cantharellus cibarius var. pallidifolius
var. pallidifolius (see comments)

© MushroomExpert.Com

Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2011, February). "Cantharellus cibarius": The chanterelle. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: