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Craterellus Mushrooms – Black Trumpets and Others

Editor’s Note:

The genus Craterellus has some very tasty and interesting mushrooms in its ranks, including the black trumpet (Craterellus fallax, Craterellus cornucopioides, or Craterellus species 01, depending on where you live), the winter chanterelle (Craterellus tubaeformis), and the fragrant chanterelle (Craterellus odoratus). This article is the fourth in a series about chanterelle and chanterelle-related mushrooms that grow in the eastern United States, and more particularly in North Carolina. However, many of these Craterellus mushrooms can be found far further afield than North Carolina, and so this post should serve mushroom hunters in other areas east of the Rocky Mountains.

If you’re interested in learning more about chanterelle mushrooms and their lookalikes, I welcome you to take a peek at the three posts preceding this one; the first is about the relatively large, yellow-gold chanterelles that grow in the eastern United States, the second addresses a few chanterelle lookalike species, and the third is a specific snapshot of the cinnabar red chanterelleCantharellus cinnabarinus. In future posts, I will delve into more detailed descriptions of other chanterelle and Craterellus species, habitats, and chanterelle hunting tips. For now, let’s take a look at some of the edible Craterellus mushrooms, a genus of with many delightful, intriguing species!

Yours in Fungal Fancy,

Mushroom Anna

An Introduction to Genus Craterellus

Craterellus fallax
The black trumpet mushroom, Craterellus fallax. Photo by Jason Hollinger. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

Craterellus is a genus made up of mycorrhizal (mutualistic) mushrooms that are generally considered edible. Some Craterellus mushrooms are collected and sold commercially, particularly the black trumpet mushroom, which is a favorite in French cuisine. In southeastern North America, there are numerous species of Craterellus mushrooms that grow throughout the main mushroom season (July-October), and several of them are excellent culinary wild mushrooms.

Craterellus mushrooms are related to species in the Cantharellus genus, which contains most of the mushrooms that are commonly called “chanterelles.” Like chanterelles, Craterellus mushrooms do not have true gills; instead, they have either smooth, wrinkled, or false gills on their fertile surfaces that produce spores. In addition, the false gills of Craterellus mushrooms that possess gill-like structures are decurrent, meaning that they run down the stem of the mushroom, rather than being attached to the cap only. Craterellus species are often tube-shaped and at least somewhat hollow, with a hole in the top of the cap that descends into the stem of the specimen. This is not an absolute feature, but the Latin name Craterellus is easy to remember (for me) because I can think of the word “crater” and clearly see something like a crater in the caps of these mushrooms.

There are numerous Craterellus mushrooms that grow on both sides of the Rocky Mountains, including some intriguing black trumpets that I used to hunt in northern California and Oregon that go by the charming name Craterellus species 01. Like most things related to mycology, the species names in Craterellus are in a state of flux, and some mushrooms that were once assumed to be identical to one another are now recognized as distinct species. For example, there are (at least) three different “black trumpet mushrooms” that grow in the eastern United States (Craterellus fallax, Craterellus foetides, and Craterellus cinereus var. multiplex…more on this in a moment…), Europe (Craterellus cornucopoides), and the west coast (Craterellus species 01, which I can personally attest to being delicious and very deserving of a name).
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