Key to Pacific Northwest CHANTERELLES,
Chanterelle-Like Mushrooms, and Look-Alikes.

Selections from Ecology and Management of Commercially Harvested Chanterelle Mushrooms
By David Pilz, Lorelei Norvell, Eric Danell, and Randy Molina

USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-576 © March 2003.


The keys leads are verbatim, changed only for PNW Key Council format and substituting Cantharellus roseocanus for Cantharellus cibarius var. roseocanus. Descriptions consist of selected information from the descriptions given in the publication, except for the descriptions of Gomphus floccosus, G. bonarii, G. kauffmanii, and Cantharellus cascadensis which are from other sources.

1a Underside of cap covered with a layer soft, toothpick-like spines; fruitbody creamy to pale orange; resembling chanterelles only until turned over [orange hedgehogs]

1b Underside of cap with gills, wrinkles, ridges, or nearly smooth

2a Hymenium (spore-producing surface) consisting of true bladelike gills; gills thick, distant, unforked, orange to smoky-gray from black spores; cap thick fleshed, orange, woolly [woolly pine spike]

2b Hymenium consisting of folds, wrinkles, ridges, or gills; if gilled, gills thin, crowded, and repeatedly forking

3a Hymenium consisting of crowded, forked, very thin gills that are easily scraped off the underside of the cap

3b Hymenium consisting of relatively shallow arching ridges, blunt folds, or wrinkles that are not easily scraped off the underside of the cap

4a Gills pallid to dingy yellow or browner, often staining reddish brown; spore print yellowish to reddish brown; taste sour or bitter [poison pax, brown chanterelle]

4b Gills brilliant to pastel orange, not staining; spore print white; taste bland [false chanterelle]

5a (3b) Hymenium shallow veined, purple to violet colored when young (later dull ochre or tan); cap thick fleshed, often slightly off-center; stem not hollow; overall shape resembling a sow’s ear [pig’s ear gomphus]

................................................................................Gomphus clavatus

FRUITBODY up to 15 cm tall and across, yellow to olive-tan with violet tones, fleshy, club to peg shaped; cap initially purple-tinged and irregularly convex, later upturned and ruffled at the margin, smooth to slightly feltlike; hymenium of purple to lavender shallow wrinkled folds that extend almost to the stem base; stem relatively wide and solid; flesh firm, white to buff. ODOR mild. TASTE not distinctive when raw. FRUITING solitary to clustered (often in arcs or circles in rich soil and humus, ectomycorrhizal with conifers. RANGE occurring from northern California to Alaska, and east (through the northern states and Canadian provinces) to the Atlantic, also found in Europe and Asia. SPORE PRINT ochre to dark olive buff. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores long ellipsoid, warty-ornamented, yellow brownish, (9) 10 to 16 (17) x (4) 4.5 to 7 (7.5) µm; clamp connections abundant in all tissues. REMARKS The pig’s ear gomphus lacks the scaly caps with deeply depressed to hollow centers characteristic of the three scaly vase Gomphus species found in North America (all of which also lack purplish folds and clamp connections).

5b Hymenium variously colored (including sooty or bluish black), but not distinctly purple or violet when young; with or without hollowed stems; trumpet-, fan-, vase-, or bun-shaped

6a Fruiting bodies blackish, bluish black, or sooty gray over all

6b Fruiting bodies white, creamy, pinkish, orangish, yellowish, reddish, or tan colored

7a Cap trumpet shaped, yellow, brown, or gray, but typically very dark brown to black; hymenial folds smooth to unevenly lightly wrinkled, ash gray, brownish, salmon or rose-tinged, rarely yellow; stem gray, brown or black; flesh relatively thin and tough; occasionally entire mushroom yellow with only stem base black; stem hollow [horn of plenty]

................................................................................Craterellus cornucopioides

FRUITBODY up to 6cm across, trumpet shaped to funnel shaped, thin, tough, hollow; caps sometimes yellow, brown, or gray, but typically very dark brown to black, inner top surface slightly feltlike and outer surface smooth; hymenium slightly wrinkled (not ridged), ash-gray, brownish, salmon or rose-tinged, rarely yellow; stem gray, brown, or black; flesh relatively thin and tough; occasionally entire mushroom yellow with only stem base black. ODOR pleasant. TASTE mild when raw. FRUITING tending to grow in scattered groups or close clusters, often arising from a common base in humus or mineral soil; ectomycorrhizal with coniferous and deciduous trees. RANGE Although relatively common in eastern North America and abundant in the coastal regions of central to northern California, horns of plenty are uncommon north of southern Oregon. The horn of plenty fruits beginning in late fall in southern Oregon and continues on into early winter and late spring in California. SPORE PRINT The white spore print of Craterellus cornucopioides has been used to distinguish it from the yellow/salmon-tinged spore print of Craterellus fallax when they are recognized as separate species. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores off-round to ellipsoid, smooth, colorless, (7) 11 to 15 (20) x (5) 7 to 11 µm; clamp connections absent. REMARKS The English name "trumpet of death" refers to the dark color, not to toxic qualities. Other English names include angel of death and horn of plenty. Polyozellus multiplex is dark blue to gray violet (instead of brown or black) and is never hollow. Craterellus fallax A.H. Smith 1968 and Craterellus konradii Bourdot and Maire, previously treated as separate species, are now considered synonyms of C. cornucopioides by Dahlman and others (2000). Craterellus konradii was the name previously given to the yellow form of this species.

7b Cap fan shaped, deep blue black to purple; hymenial veins frosted with a heavy gray bloom; stem short, solid [blue chanterelle]

................................................................................Polyozellus multiplex

FRUITBODY up to 15 cm across, fleshy, dark purple to deep blue black; caps slightly roughened and dry, often occurring in clusters above stems that are frequently fused; hymenium of shallow forked veins often extending down the stems, dark violet black to blue purple when fresh, becoming a paler gray violet when dried; flesh tough and somewhat brittle, dark purple. ODOR faintly pungent. TASTE mild when raw. FRUITING in British Columbia ectomycorrhizal with fir and Sitka spruce. RANGE relatively rare and in the Pacific Northwest restricted to old coniferous forests from California’s Humboldt County north to Alaska; also found in the Rocky Mountains south to New Mexico and east to Maine at higher latitudes, and found in Japan. SPORE PRINT white. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores ornamented with low bumps, colorless, 4.5 to 9 x 4.5 to 8 µm; tissues turn greenish black in potassium hydroxide; clamp connections present. REMARKS English names include blue chanterelle, blue clustered chanterelle, and black chanterelle. Gomphus clavatus is fleshier, a much paler violet, and has much larger, roughened ellipsoidal basidiospores.

8a (6b) Stem a hollow, puckered tube, dirty orange yellow; cap orange brown, convex to funnel shaped; hymenial ridges distinct, yellow orange at first, becoming lilac brown with age, stem base long remaining orange; usually on crumbly brown rotted wood or peaty soil [winter craterelle]

................................................................................Craterellus neotubaeformis nom. prov.

FRUITBODY small, up to 5 cm across, texture pliable; caps dark brown to brownish orange ochre with down-turned margin and depressed center, depression sometimes deep and continuing into the hollow stem, surface frequently scurfy with uneven short fibers or fine scales; hymenium of shallow, forked ridges, pale orange yellow to yellow gray or pale lilac brown, stems hollow, brilliant to dull orange yellow. ODOR and TASTE not distinctive when raw. FRUITING a mycorrhizal species, usually found scattered to clustered on well-decayed wood, or sometimes in soil and humus, near the roots of living trees and around stumps, generally fruiting November to May. RANGE relatively common and abundant in moist coniferous rain forests of the Pacific Northwest from Alaska to northern California. SPORE PRINT white to yellow. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores slightly off-round to ellipsoid, smooth, colorless, 9 to 11 x 6 to 10 µm; clamp connections abundant in all tissues. REMARKS Previously misapplied names include Cantharellus tubaeformis Fr.: Fr. 1821 and Cantharellus infundibuliformis (Scopoli) Fr. 1838.

8b Stem either solid or short and not tubular

9a Cap (and fruitbody) deeply vase shaped becoming slightly trumpet shaped, when mature often larger than a man’s hand; cap surface very scaly to crumbly-scaly [Gomphus]

9b Cap convex to depressed, cap surface smooth or with small, more or less flattened scales [chanterelles]

10a Fruitbody large, fleshy-meaty; funnel-shaped cap tan to brown (no orange tones) with large woolly-felty scales that curve back toward or detach and fall into a pile of debris at the bottom of the funnel [Kauffman’s gomphus]

................................................................................Gomphus kauffmanii

FRUITBODY cap 3 to 20 cm across, sometimes larger, deeply depressed, funnel shaped to vase shaped, with wavy to lobed margin, cream to tan, with large, more or less rectangular scales that curve inwards, the center of the cap wearing away to expose the hollow interior; outer surface creamy white to pale brown, with radial folds and other folds running between them, staining dull reddish brown when bruised; stem also whitish, widening upward into the cap, becoming dull brown when bruised. ODOR mild to aromatic when fresh. FRUITING single, scattered, or in joined clusters, under conifers, often partially hidden in deep humus. RANGE British Columbia to California, Idaho, and parts of eastern North America. SPORE PRINT pale ocher. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores more or less ellipsoid, colorless, with scattered low warts or ridges, 12 to 18 x 5 to 7.5 µm; clamp connections absent. REMARKS Gomphus bonarii may lose its orange color when old, but has smaller spores.

10b Fruitbody similar, but with orange colors present and with scales not as readily breaking off and falling into the funnel

11a Hymenial ridges deep, relatively close; cap bright rusty orange; hymenium and stipe yellowish to ochraceous [woolly or scaly vase chanterelle]

................................................................................Gomphus floccosus

FRUITBODY cap 4 to 15 cm across, 7 to 20 cm high, becoming deeply depressed in the center, funnel shaped, vase shaped, or trumpet shaped, with wavy to lobed margin, cap color yellow orange to reddish orange, scales flattened near margin, coarse and curled in toward the center; outer surface cream to buff or yellowish, with distinct radial folds covering almost whole surface and other folds running between, the surface becoming brownish where bruised, stem expanding upwards toward cap. ODOR and TASTE not distinctive. FRUITING solitary, in groups, or sometimes with 2 or 3 arising from a single stem, under conifers in late summer and fall. RANGE widely distributed through the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in North America. SPORE PRINT dull ocher. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores ellipsoid, wrinkled to warted, slightly yellowish, 12 to 15 x 6 to 7.5 µm; clamp connections absent. REMARKS more common than Gomphus bonarii and Gomphus kauffmanii.

11b Hymenial ridges shallow, distant; cap salmon to foxy orange; hymenium and stipe cream to tan [Bonar’s gomphus]

................................................................................Gomphus bonarii

FRUITBODY cap 3-14 cm across, slightly depressed when young, soon becoming moderately depressed, with wavy to lobed margin, the upper surface broken into thick, more or less erect scales which fill the central depression, the scales orange at tips, yellow at the bases, and giving the cap an orange yellow color which becomes pale orange brown to dark brown in age; outer surface whitish with narrow blunt radial folds with other folds running between them, extending about half way down the stem, surface staining pinkish brown when bruised or at maturity; stem also whitish, widening upward into the cap, solid and mostly fused with other stems. ODOR and TASTE not distinctive. FRUITING scattered or in groups or clusters with fused stems, often partly hidden in deep humus, fruiting under conifers. RANGE British Columbia to California, and eastward to Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, also occurring in Mexico. SPORE PRINT pale ocher. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores more or less elliptic, colorless, smooth or having slight ridges, 10 to 14 x 5 to 6 µm; clamp connections not found. REMARKS Gomphus floccosus is brighter in color and the cap becomes more deeply depressed. Gomphus kauffmanii lacks the orange colors.

12a (9b) Fruitbody whitish overall (pallid, cream, ivory, or buff) [white chanterelle]

................................................................................Cantharellus subalbidus

FRUITBODY up to 14 cm across, relatively compact, cream to ivory colored overall; cap generally darkening to a pale buff color when old or water soaked, entire mushroom becoming dark orange or rust color when very dry; hymenium of generally well-separated and long ridges, extending from the cap well down the solid stem; flesh firm, dense, cream colored, and slowly staining dull yellow when handled. ODOR pleasant, in fresh specimens reminiscent of apricots (contrary to Smith and Morse’s original description). TASTE usually peppery when raw. FRUITING apparently mycorrhizal with Douglas-fir and hemlocks, commonly fruiting in late summer and early fall in mature to old forests. RANGE endemic to coastal and montane forests of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California. SPORE PRINT white. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores ellipsoid, smooth, colorless, 7 to 9 x 5 to 5.5 µm; clamp connections abundant in all tissues. REMARKS After harvest, white chanterelles can be confused with Pacific golden chanterelles because with handling the whites tend to yellow and darken, and the goldens lose color as they dry. Additionally, in the forest, golden chanterelles are sometimes pale to almost white when sheltered from light under duff or debris. Among chanterelles that might be mistaken for white chanterelles are an unnamed British Columbia species that is very similar to the European pale chanterelle, Cantharellus pallens (Redhead and others 1997), and another reported by Thiers (1985) as Cantharellus cibarius var. pallidifolius from under tanbark oaks in California.

12b Fruitbody distinctly pigmented (yellow, gold, pink, ochre, orange)

13a Hymenium usually paler than cap, pale yellow-orange with a subtle to intensely pinkish cast; cap yellow orange beneath a thin brownish cuticle that (in dry weather) lifts into small appressed scales (squamules); flesh staining immediately yellow when bruised [Pacific golden chanterelle]

................................................................................Cantharellus formosus

FRUITBODY up to 14cm across, brightly colored with dull orange to brown-orange cap and stem; cap surface frequently with small closely adhering, slightly darker scales particularly visible in dry weather; hymenium (fertile spore-bearing surface) with deep ridges, pale orange yellow and often with a pink cast, and running down from the cap edge well down the stems; flesh firm and fibrous, when bruised, at first yellowing slowly, eventually darkening to a dull ochre. ODOR faint, fruity, apricotlike, more noticeable in drier fresh specimens. TASTE mildly peppery when raw. FRUITING under hemlock, Douglas-fir, and spruce; ectomycorrhizal and fruiting from midsummer through late fall in young to old forests. RANGE reported from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California, native to western North American temperate coniferous rainforests. SPORE PRINT yellowish white. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores ellipsoid, smooth, colorless, 7.2 to 9.2 x 4.7 to 6.1 µm; clamp connections abundant in all tissues. REMARKS Nonchanterelles frequently cited as lookalikes in field guides include the woolly pine spike (Chroogomphus tomentosus), the false chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) and some Clitocybe species. These species, however, have bladelike gills rather than ridges underneath the caps, and even though the gills might be thick (woolly pine spike) or fork like the ridges on chanterelles, they are distinct from the flesh of the cap or stem.

13b Hymenium rarely paler than cap, deep orange-yellow with no to little pinkish cast; young cap covered with a pink or yellow pink "frost" (especially at the margin), lacking brown tones and always smooth; flesh not staining immediately yellow when bruised [rainbow chanterelle]

................................................................................Cantharellus roseocanus

FRUITBODY up to 12 cm across, usually much smaller, bright yellow orange overall, cap usually bright orange yellow overall but margin covered with a thin pinkish bloom (possibly obscured when rain soaked); hymenium ridged, more or less brilliant orange yellow, as intensely colored as or darker than the cap, running from the cap edge well down the stem; stem usually relatively short, solid, light yellow; flesh firm and fibrous, bruising sparingly and very slowly, with damaged areas noted as darker patches in older specimens. ODOR fruity apricotlike (slightly stronger than C. formosus). FRUITING ectomycorrhizal with Sitka spruce and shore pine along the coast and Engelmann spruce in the mountains, generally fruiting from August through October in old forests. RANGE confirmed from British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, and likely also occurs in California, native to the region and apparently restricted to temperate western spruce and pine forests. SPORE PRINT orange yellow. MICROSTRUCTURES basidiospores ellipsoid, smooth, colorless, (6) 7.5 to 10 (11.3) x 4.5 to 5.5 µm; clamp connections abundant in all tissues. REMARKS Unlike the Pacific golden chanterelle, the rainbow chanterelle has a smooth cap that lacks closely appressed scales even when young, exhibits no immediate yellow staining when bruised, and has a darker spore print. The bright orange yellow ridges of the rainbow chanterelle lack a pinkish cast, so that any pink coloration is generally restricted to the outer cap margin. The intense pinkish coloration found in certain young or dry Pacific golden chanterelles, on the other hand, is found only on the hymenium.

In addition to the chanterelles considered in Pilz et al., there is another chanterelle later described from Oregon, Cantharellus cascadensis. A brief account is given below, derived from the original 2003 description, with further notes from Siegel and Schwarz (2016) reflecting observations after that description.

FRUITBODY cap 4-12 cm broad, flat-convex to slightly umbonate, becoming depressed to deeply depressed when old, margin incurved at first (not inrolled), soon becoming uplifted with wavy margins, cap bright yellow to orange yellow, central disc occasionally fading or even whitish; hymenium with ridges long and strongly decurrent, close and narrow (up to 2 mm broad), variously forked or anastomosing, light orange yellow to pale yellow; stem 2-4.5 cm x 1-2 cm at top below veined area, occasionally equal but more often club shaped or wider in middle or with bulb at base, stem flaring upward and not distinct from cap; flesh firm and yellowish white. ODOR and TASTE not distinctive. FRUITING single to gregarious or occasionally cespitose, in Douglas-fir - Western Hemlock forest. RANGE described from Oregon. SPORE PRINT white to yellowish white. MICROSTRUCTURES ellipsoid to off-round, smooth, 7 to 13 x 5 to 8 µm; clamp connections present. REMARKS This species was described in 2003 from Oregon using molecular methods to differentiate it from other chanterelle species. It is similar to C. formosus but differs in cap color, tending toward an intensely bright pure yellow cap (as opposed to orange-yellow or brownish yellow for C. formosus); however occasional C. formosus fruitbodies are found with the bright color. Colors of the veined underside are similar, microscopy is not helpful, and the two may grow in the same habitat. The stem of C. cascadensis is only occasionally equal and more often club-shaped or wider in the middle or bulbous, whereas the stem of C. formosus is usually equal or narrowing downward. A possible character in C. cascadensis is cracking of the cap flanked by orange-brown discoloration during dry weather: this was not observed in C. formosus. FURTHER NOTES from Siegel and Schwarz (2016) The underside is “Whitish to creamy, sometimes with a light pinkish hue in age or when dry”, which is helpful in differentiating it from C. formosus with an underside that is “Dull whitish pink to light yellow when young, pinkish buff to dingy yellowish beige in age”. Cantharellus subalbidus “can be very similar, but usually has a creamy white to ivory cap (but stains yellowish), and an equal or tapered stipe”. The odor of C. cascadensis is “indistinct to fruity-fragrant”.



  1. Castellano, M., Efrén Cázares, Brian Fondrick, and Tina Dreisbach. 2003. Handbook to Additional Fungal Species of Special Concern in the Northwest Forest Plan. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-572. United States Department of Agriculture.
  2. Corner, E.J.H.. 1966. A Monograph of Cantharelloid Fungi. Oxford University Press.
  3. Dahlman, Mattias, Eric Danell, Joseph W. Spatafora. 2000. "Molecular systematics of Craterellus: cladistic analysis of nuclear LSU rDNA sequence data." Mycol. Res. 104(4) 388-394.
  4. Dunham, Susie M, Thomas E. O'Dell and Randy Molina. 2003. "Analysis of nrDNA sequences and microsatellite allele frequencies reveals a cryptic chanterelle species Cantharellus cascadensis sp. nov. from the American Pacific Northwest." Mycol. Res. 107(10): 1163-1177.
  5. Petersen, Ronald H. 1971. "The genera Gomphus and Gloeocantharellus in North America." Nova Hedwigia 21: 1-118.
  6. Pilz, David, Lorelei Norvell, Eric Danell, and Randy Molina. 2003. Ecology and Management of Commercially Harvested Chanterelle Mushrooms. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-576. United States Department of Agriculture.
  7. Redhead, S.A., Lorelei L. Norvell, Eric Danell. 1997. "Cantharellus formosus and the Pacific Golden Chanterelle Harvest in Western North America" Mycotaxon 65: 285-322.
  8. Siegel, Noah, and Christian Schwarz. 2016. Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast - A Comprensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal North California. Ten Speed Press. Berkeley.
  9. Smith, Alexander H., Elizabeth E. Morse. 1947. "The Genus Cantharellus in the Western United States." Mycologia 39(5): 497-534.
  10. Thiers, H.D. 1985. The Agaricales (gill fungi) of California. 2. Cantharellaceae. Mad River Press, Eureka, California.


    C. cascadensis Dunham, O'Dell & R. Molina after 13b
    C. roseocanus (Redhead, Norvell & Danell) Redhead, Norvell & Moncalvo 13b
    C. formosus Corner 13a
    C. subalbidus A.H. Sm. & Morse 12a
    C. cornucopioides (L.: Fr.) Pers. 7a
    C. neotubaeformis nom. prov. 8a
 GOMPHUS (Pers.) Pers.  
    G. bonarii (Morse) Singer 11b
    G. clavatus Gray 5a
    G. floccosus (Schwein.) Singer 11a
    G. kauffmanii (A.H. Sm.) R.H. Petersen 10a
    P. multiplex (Underw.) Murrill 7b

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