|A smooth chanterelle (Cantharellus confluens) emerges from the leaf litter. This was just one of three edible chanterelle species that I have found in the last week.|
This area got over two inched of rain last weekend which I believe made this week good for chanterelle gathering. Most of the chanterelles I found were smooth chanterelles (Cantharellus confluens) but I also found some golden chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) and some cinnabar-red chanterelles (Cantharellus cinnabarinus). At first I thought the smooth chanterelles were Cantherallus lateritius, but they were almost always growing in pairs which lead me to believe that they were Cantharellus confluens ("confluens" refers to the fact that they occur together, i.e. in pairs). The distinction isn't too important though, because mushroom experts don't even agree if the two are distinct species (Weber and Smith 1985). Regardless of the species, the chanterelles were associated with hardwoods and seemed most abundant along the hard-packed ground along trails, and the dry drainages that led to creeks.
|Some cinnabar-red chanterelles stand out against brown leaves.|
|The underside of a cinnabar-red chanterelle showing the distinctive false gills that are characteristic of many chanterelles (although they are not very distinct on smooth chanterelles).|
|Here is another shot of a chanterelle. The color contrasts nicely with the green moss.|
I am not going to write much about identification because it is available elsewhere, and I do not consider myself a mushroom expert. There are probably better people to learn from. I just wanted to let everyone know that now is the time to go searching (at least if you are in the southeast). Like any wild edible, make sure that you are absolutely sure about what you are eating*. It is your responsibility to identify what you eat. Also, use caution. I saw some jack o' lantern mushrooms too. I don't really think that they look similar to chanterelles, but people have confused them in the past resulting in poisoning.
I also saw a bunch of other mushrooms many of which I couldn't identify. Unfortunately, my camera died before I was done hiking so I missed out on a lot of cool photos. Here are some mushrooms I was able to photograph. Hopefully, my new book, Mushrooms of the Southeastern United States will arrive soon. It should help with identification.
|I don't know what this is. Feel free to comment.|
|This could possibly be the edible sweettooth*. I'm not sure.|
|The underside of the mushroom shown in the previous photo.|
|This is the same mushroom as the previous photo, but a different view.|
|This is the same mushroom as the previous photo. I don't know what it is.|
|A cool looking bolete (I think).|
|I've heard that some coral fungi are edible*. I haven't looked into it. With mushrooms, I focus on learning one new group at a time.|
That's all the writing for tonight. I have to wake up early sand record some fish sounds so I need to get to sleep.
*Note: It is your responsibility to correctly identify any fungi that you plan on eating. Consult a local expert and/or an accurate field guide. Do not eat any wild fungus unless you are 100% sure of its identity.
Nancy Smith Weber and Alexander H. Smith. A Field Guide to Southern Mushrooms. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor Michigan. 1985 pp.61-64.