Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca — False chanterelle

Card image cap

False chanterelle2.

Card image cap

False chanterelle2, close up showing closely spaced, forked gills.

False chanterelle brown-capped variant

False chanterelle7 brown-capped variant, photograph by Adolf Ceska.

False chanterelle orange-capped variant

False chanterelle8 orange-capped variant, photograph by Ludovic Le Renard.

Odour: Indistinct to slightly sweet.
Cap: 2–9 cm in diameter. The cap has a central depression and the margin is inrolled towards the gills. It becomes funnel-shaped with age. The colour is variable, most often a deep orange with brown centre. Lighter variants occur. The surface is felted. The flesh of the cap is soft and pliable.
Gills: Crowded or moderately close, decurrent. The gills repeatedly fork into two and are usually wavy. The colour is bright orange.
Stem: 2–7 cm long x 0.3–1 cm wide, cylindrical or a bit wider at the base. Colour at its top matches the cap, but it is often dark brown to black at the bottom. Becoming hollow.
Ring or veil: None.
Cup: None.
Spores: 6–8 x 3–5 µm, smooth.
Habitat: On coniferous wood: decayed logs and stumps, raw humus in coniferous forests, and wood chips in human environments. Often fruiting during dry spells, when not much else is fruiting. Saprotrophic.
Geographic distribution: Widespread in the Northern Hemisphere.

The description gives the characteristics for the common and typical false chanterelle. Other as yet unnamed species in the Pacific northwest are lighter in colour, have a parsley-like smell, or are bigger and have dark scales on the cap and deep orange gills.

“True” chanterelles in the genus Cantharellus do not grow on wood, and their gills are shallow, ridge-like veins that are often interconnected by prominent cross veins. Gills of the false chanterelle are thin and they fork without obvious cross veins. In most chanterelles, the gills are yellow to pale yellow in contrast to the orange gills of the false chanterelle. Flesh of false chanterelles is thin. True chanterelle species are fleshy and firm with stringy flesh.

The false chanterelle is similar in colour and shape to the yellowfoot, Craterellus tubaeformis. The yellowfoot's forking veins tend to be thicker, further apart, and lighter in colour than the gills of the false chanterelle. The margin of the yellowfoot's cap is usually distinctly wavy, while the circumference of the false chanterelle's cap is flattish.
Information about the false chanterelle's edibility is conflicting and the different, closely related species included within it may differ in toxicity. False chanterelles are one of 14 kinds of mushrooms that members of the indigenous Southern Tepehuán group in Mexico collect and roast or boil5. While some field guides note that it causes ‘adverse reactions in some people,’ supporting data is thin. Only one case of gastrointestinal upset after eating false chanterelles appeared in the records of mushroom poisoning summarized annually by the North American Mycological Association6.

Treatment: Contact your regional Poison Control Centre if you or someone you know is ill after eating false chanterelles. Poison centres provide free, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If possible, save the mushrooms or some of the leftover food containing the mushrooms to help confirm identification.

Poison Control:
British Columbia: 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911.
United States (WA, OR, ID): 1-800-222-1222.

MyCoPortal. Mycology Collections Portal, <http://mycoportal.org/portal/collections/harvestparams.php> accessed March 2018.

Specimen Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca UBC F16265.

Kuyper, T. W. Hygrophoropsis Pp. 64-66 in Flora Agaricina Neerlandica Vol. 3 (eds. Bas, C., Kuyper, T. W., Noordeloos, M. E., & Vellinga, E. C.) CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida (1995).

Siegel, N. & Schwarz, C. Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast. A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California (2016).

Gonzalez, E. M. Ethnobotany of the southern Tepehuan of Durango, Mexico: I. Edible mushrooms. Journal of Ethnobiology 11, 165-173 (1991).

Beug, M. W. NAMA Toxicology Committee Report North American Mushroom Poisonings, <https://www.namyco.org/toxicology_committee_report_20.php> accessed May 6, 2017.

Specimen Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca UBC F30541 MO77990.

Specimen Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca UBC F28389, GenBank #KP454025.