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West Coast Chanterelles (Was Re: Taxonomy and opinions)

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Sun Sep 10 16:44:42 EST 2000

In article <Pine.GSO.3.95.1000909174022.19233A-
100000 at hollywood.cinenet.net>,
  Nathan Wilson <velosa at cinenet.net> wrote:
> On Sat, 9 Sep 2000 truffler1635 at my-deja.com wrote:
> > Until someone takes the time to do DNA analysis, and also learns to
> > cultivate it, the species appelation is still somewhat in question, I
> > believe.
> The cool thing about Armillaria (meaning honey mushrooms) is that they
> can be cultivated and tested for mating capatibility.  That's the
> technique Tom Volk (and others) used to differentiate between the
> different species.  I believe the current world-wide count is in the
> 30's.  I'm also pretty sure that Armillariella is now defunct and
> Armillaria is the correct name for the honeys.  My understanding is
> that it depends on whether you accept a brief description and
> illustratation of A. mellea as establishing the genus Armillaria or
> if you accepted a later but more detailed description of "Armillaria
> straminea" as the type.  Singer accepted Armillaria straminea and
> so constructed Armillariella.  All of the recent texts I've seen
> use Armillaria to mean the honey mushrooms and use Floccularia for
> A. straminea and kin.  This is also indirectly related to calling
> the west coast Matsutake, Tricholoma magnivelare, since under Singer's
> definition of Armillaria it's Armillaria ponderosa.
> > Ever since hearing about Eric Danell's DNA research into Cantarellus
> > cibarius (which is no longer cibarius in the US BTW) I'm deeply curious
> > to see what other species definitions will fall by the wayside.
> I would love to hear what the state of Cantharellus names is for the west
> coast.  The in category of large orange to white Cantharellus I can
> consistently differentiate between seven forms based on color and habitat.
> In the Northern California fir/madrone forest I regularly see one with the
> typical orange top and orange hymenium (tends to be the largest, up to
> 2lbs and most common), a more slender and delicate one with an orange top
> and a pinkish orange hymenium, a more robust one with a yellow-orange top
> and a pale yellow hymenium, and a robust all ivory one.  In the pine
> forests there is a yellow/orange one which may be the same as the first
> fir/madrone one, but it never gets as large, and an ivory one that is
> distinctly smaller and more delicate than the fir/madrone ivory one and I
> believe stains a darker brown.  Finally, there is the ubiquitous live
> oak one all orange and of moderate size.
> Originally I called the two ivory ones C. subalbidus, the one with the
> pinkish hymenium C. formosus (based on the description from Agaricales of
> California), and the rest C. cibarius.  I have since heard that C.
> cibarius probably doesn't exist in the Western US (Eric's work) and the
> common, large all orange spruce/fir species in Oregon is C. formosus.  The
> closest match in my experience would have to be the all orange one that
> occurs in fir/madrone.  As for the rest I have no good idea what to call
> them other than chanterelles and 'Good Eatin'.  For lack of any other
> names I've started calling all the orangish chanterelles C. formosus, but
> that doesn't make me very happy.  Are there others out there who care
> about this issue?  If so what are you doing about it?
At least one of us cares pretty deeply about it Nathan.

Your references to 7 Cantharellus types sounds quite similar to mine. I'm
wondering if there is widespread agreement on what host trees each
variety grows near, or possibly what age the trees are.

I have been unable to find 7 types locally myself. But I can confirm at
least 4 varieties where only one species was accepted prior to Danell's
work. I haven't recently attended any Oregon Myocological Society
meetings, so it's quite possible I have missed some of the more recent

I know of Cantharellus formosus, our "typical" Western chanterelle, often
found in Douglas fir stands or mixed Western hemlock/D fir stands of
younger age. I seldom find them with trees less than 40 years old, but
would not be surprised to find them with trees as young as 20 years old
as reported to me on the Oregon coast. Proximity to fog banks has quite a
bit to do with it. My favorite local collecting site is about 2,000 feet
elevation in the Cascades _east_ of Portland. These fog banks tend to
provide sufficient moisture to allow early fruiting. The fungus is
generally fairly small: I've seem them typically less than 4 ounces per
mushroom. But I've also picked "small" robust immature buttons that
looked like them might have reached much larger size.

Cantharellus aurora-borealis is a more coastal variety/species. It is
named for David Aurora. But it is also named for the distinctive various
colors near the unfurling edge of the hymenium, which often in vinaceous
or various colored: rose, bluish, sometimes even a greenish hint. The cap
tends to be darker colored and more orangish brown than other
chanterelles I've encountered. I have noted it _only_ near Sitka spruce
in the immediate vicinity of the Pacific Ocean.

A third variety (which I am criticized constantly for) has the unusual
feature of a hollow pileus. I have found several sites for this fungus,
usually mixed with C. formosus. With the exception of being slightly more
brilliant yellow than other varieties, and possibly with slightly thinner
cap flesh, it tastes pretty much the same as any other chanterelle. Found
with 30-60 year old D fir and Western hemlock in the Coast Range and
Cascades, from 600-2500 feet elevation (so far).

C. subalbidus in my limited experience is robust, pallid or pale buff-
white to off-white, often several ounces per specimen, with a much
thicker pileus. I seldom (once) encounter it under 2,000 feet elevation,
but have found nearly pure stands of it at 2500-4000 feet elevation under
mixed stands of old-growth trees including: D fir, W hemlock, Noble fir,
and Pacific yew. While C. formosus can be present also in the stands, C.
subalbidus seems to be the predominant species _unless_ one gets near
canopy openings and abundant seedling Western hemlock. Sometimes the
dense stands of seedling Western hemlock cover up the fruiting C.
formosus in these sites. If I did not also find C. formosus growing up to
100 feet away from these seedling trees, I would call them associated
only with very young trees.

Finally, in the Mulino-Molalla area of the Cascade foothills I encounter
a Chanterelle variety largely unlike any other I frequently collect. It
seldom fruits until _very_ late in the season, and gets rather massive,
although the largest water-logged specimen I've seen was still less than
a pound in size. It differs from C. formosus in that I collected it on
Feb. 28 one year: about 3 months later than most chanterelles I've seen
are typically found. Also, the stand of trees was slightly more diverse:
D. fir again, Western hemlock, and quite a bit of Western Redcedar, as
well as scattered hardwoods including older Black cottonwood up to 80
years old at a minimum. To my recollection, this is the only place I've
seen a chanterelle fruiting that late, and the only place where I've
collected one _directly_ under Western Redcedar (even though there were
plenty of other 150-200 foot tree species nearby).

Since in my particular area madrone is rare and canyon live oak unknown
of, I suspect there are at least two other varieties which could be added
to my list.

Is suppose I should list also the C. tubaeiformis, a non-descript
"Yellow-foot Chanterelle" found often at snow-line, typically fruiting or
arising from buried Noble fir logs or other debris. I kind of wonder
whether this typically caespitose variety is mycorrhizal, except the wood
it fruits on is also well-involved with roots from nearby trees. C.
tubaeiformis in my experience has a pinched stem, unlike any other
Chanterelle with the (rare) exception of the hollow-stemmed C. formosus-
like chanterelle noted above, which is _never_ found on rotting or buried

I hope this stimulates additional comments.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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