Comprehensive Description

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Comprehensive Description

The chanterelle Cantharellus cibarius is widely viewed as among the most desirable of edible mushrooms. It is found singly, scattered, in groups, or sometimes clustered on the ground in woods. Its flesh is thick, firm, and white, with an odor that may be fragrant like apricots (or not distinctive) and a taste that may be peppery (or not distinctive). (Bessette et al. 1997) Cantharellus cibarius has been reported from North America, Europe, North Africa, the Himalayas, and Thailand, but there is considerable evidence that this nominal species actually includes multiple distinct cryptic species (see Taxonomy and Systematics section below). (Feibelman et al. 1997; Pilz et al. 2003)

Members of the Cantharellus cibarius complex occur throughout the north temperate zone. In northern California and the Pacific Northwest they grow mainly with conifers, but along the Central California coast, they are often associated with live oaks, especially at pasture edges. On the west coast of the Unites States these mushrooms appear in cool weather and are often large and thick-stemmed (half kilo specimens are not uncommon), with an orange cap, faintly fruity odor, and pale, copiously veined gills (although a smaller, slimmer, cleaner form grows under Sitka Spruce). In eastern North America they are most common in the summer and are usually much smaller (caps typically 3 to 6 cm across) and often yellower, with a slender, well developed stalk and little or no odor. A number of other fungi, including several Cantharellus species and some poisonous species, can be confused with C. cibarius. (Arora 1986)


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© Shapiro, Leo

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