The cousin to the True Chanterelle. I find the Smooth Chanterelle easier to identify than the True Chanterelle because there isn’t the true gill/ false gill question. The Smooth Chanterelle has the same vase shape, and is generally found in the same habitat as the True Chanterelle. To check out an article on the Chanterelle, see Wild Edible Mushroom – Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius). Likewise they grow around the same time of year. On the day these bad boys were picked, I picked a bunch growing between and among regular Chanterelles.
Although still considered a choice edible mushroom I’ve heard that the flavor of the Smooth Chanterelle is not as tasty as the better known True Chanterelle, but my not-so-sensitive palate managed to gobble them down with little prejudice. They are fantastic in a Risotto of any kind, which is how I ate them.
- The underside of the cap of Smooth Chanterelles are (obviously) smooth, having either no gills on the underside of the cap and stem (stipe) or they have very little reticulation (similar to the Black Trumpet).
- They are bright yellow to light orange in color.
- They are vase shaped.
- They are Mycorrhizal by nature, meaning that they survive as a result of the symbiotic relationship between the mushroom’s mycelium, and the tree’s roots. This relationship exchanges nutrients between the plants that could not be achieved otherwise, thus benefiting both species. Therefore, they do not grow on dead or dying material.
- They have a fruity smell, so they don’t have that classic mushroom smell like the button mushrooms you purchase in the store. People say they smell like apricots.
- The closest look alike is the True Chanterelle, which would be a delicious mistake to make.
- It’s a stretch, but the Jack-O-Lantern (Omphalotus olearius) could be considered a look alike. However, the poisonous Jack-O-Lantern has true gills on the underside of the cap of the mushroom (perhaps the biggest give away that it isn’t a Smooth Chanterelle). Jack-O-Lantern grows on dead or dying material (saprotrophic), and is not mycorrhizal like the Cantharellus family. Oh, and the gills are known to glow in the dark. That’s right, a pretty good indication that it isn’t a Chanterelle of any kind. Jack-O-Lantern’s contain an enzyme called luciferase (like Lucifer/Devil) that reacts with a compound called luciferin, that gives the gills a bioluminescent quality (again, don’t eat stuff that glows in the dark).
- The False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca), which is no longer listed as poisonous but isn’t very tasty when compared to the True or Smooth Chanterelle. Some literature lists this mushroom as poisonous. It is easy to distinguish because it has true gills (the Smooth Chanterelle has none).
For more discussion of these look alikes, see Wild Edible Mushroom – Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius), where they are discussed at length.
I shouldn’t need to tell you not to eat things that you can’t identify, but don’t eat things you can’t identify. That’s a pretty good rule to live by. This article is for entertainment purposes only. I’m just some fat redneck who enjoys the outdoors, and even though I haven’t died eating lots of stuff from “the wild,” my article(s) should not be used as a means to keep you from dying. Therefore, use multiple sources of information from reputable sources to aid in identifying anything that you decide to eat from the wild.