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2018 has been a wet year so far for most of us. The excess moisture is allowing for an abundance of mushrooms to emerge. At the Auburn University Plant Diagnostic Lab, we have received many mushroom identification requests, specifically for Chanterelles. We cannot identify mushrooms for human consumption at the diagnostic lab, especially based on pictures. There are look-a-like mushrooms that can be difficult to distinguish without fresh specimens (Jack O'Lanterns and false chanterelle). You should never eat a mushroom you have identified based on pictures. And never eat anything you can't positively identify!
Chanterelles grow from summer through early fall. They are usually found associated with hardwood tree roots. They form a symbiotic (beneficial) relationship with the tree. They are usually found growing solitary or in a small bunch and have a sweet smell. They are usually orange-yellow in color with a convex or vase shaped cap. They have false gills that appear as forked folds or wrinkles on the underside of the mushroom. The false gills are decurrent, meaning they run down the stalk.
Jack O'Lantern mushrooms are also orange in color, but are found growing in large clusters and not necessarily associated with tree roots. When you cut a Jack O'Lantern stalk open, it will be orange through the whole stalk. Chanterelles are usually white inside their stalk. Jack O'Lanterns also have true gills, meaning they are non-forked and knife-like. Jack O'Lanterns contain the toxin muscarine. If eaten, they can cause severe cramps and diarrhea. The Jack O'Lantern mushroom is named such because it has the ability to bioluminesce (glow in the dark), although difficult to see. The picture on the right is Chanterelle by Chris Schnepf, University of Idaho, Bugwood.org.
The false chanterelle is also orange in color and vase shaped, but has true gills. The gills are forked on the edges, but still appear as close blades rather than folds or wrinkles. The orange color is also graded, meaning they're darker at the center of the cap rather than one uniform color. There are reports that this mushroom is poisonous, causing upset stomach and digestive problems. The picture on the left is Jack O'Lantern by Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org.
Picture below is False chanterelle by Kuo, M. (2015, March). Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com.
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