Now is a great time for a chanterelle mushroom hunt as pops of orange emerge in Missouri.
If you’re planning a hunt or just want to know what to look for while out in nature, here’s what state wildlife officials say you should know about the edible mushroom variety.
What are chanterelle mushrooms?
“Chanterelles are funnel- or trumpet-shaped and have wavy cap edges,” according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Most are bright orange or yellow, although one, the black trumpet, is brownish black.”
When fresh, chanterelles have what is described as a “pleasant, fruity fragrance.”
The edible mushroom is growing in popularity within the U.S., officials say, though it’s already a “great favorite” of chefs in Europe.
There are several species of chanterelle mushrooms, including smooth chanterelles and golden chanterelles, both of which can smell like apricots.
When should I hunt for chanterelles in Missouri?
These organisms spend most of their time as fungal cells in the soil with tree roots, but when they are ready to reproduce, those cells will develop mushrooms, according to the state department. Those newly-formed mushrooms can then produce spores to create more fungal cells.
Their “fruiting season” begins in May and goes through October, and Missouri Department of Conservation says the mushrooms are “popping up now through August.”
Experts say early fall is one of the best times to search. At that time of year, fallen leaves won’t have covered them up yet, and pests and heavy undergrowth will be declining.
Where should I look for chanterelles?
Chanterelle mushrooms grow across the state of Missouri, though you’re most likely to find them in moist woodlands and river bottoms.
“Chanterelles can be found in the same habitat that favors morels: on the ground in hardwood forests,” state experts said. “They will always be found on the ground in grass or leaf litter, never on decaying wood or trees (which can be buried), and while they may be found singly, they grow more commonly in scattered groups, often in large areas.”
If you find a spot full of chanterelles, you should remember that location as they can be expected to reappear there annually.
How do I know if this mushroom is a chanterelle?
As with any edible mushroom, you should always be sure you have identified it correctly before taking a bite.
When it comes to identifying chanterelles, one species you’ll for sure want to separate it from is the “poisonous but similar jack-o’-lantern mushroom.”
To be sure you have picked a chanterelle, officials say you should check the cap’s underside.
“Some species of chanterelles are nearly smooth underneath, while others have a network of wrinkles or gill-like ridges running down the stem,” according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. “The ridges have many forks and crossveins and are always blunt-edged.”
Chanterelles do not have gills, unlike the poisonous jack-o’-lantern mushrooms, which have sharp and knife-like gills.