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Chanterelles

Cantharellus species, are probably the most commonly sought after species of fungi in the world today. They are found on every temperate continent. They were harvested to pay for uniforms by the Polish Army (so the story goes).

In Oregon, they are found from July or August until mid-November. The early season specimens are found on the higher ridges that catch the mid-summer rainfall. The early season is spotty as high temperatures and lack of rain often cause "potato chip" conditions that result in the forest floor snapping underfoot as though you were walking on potato chips. The Chanterelles found at this time are usually like dried up marshmallows. The season really gets underway in mid to late September when the fall rains begin to appear.

There is quite a bit of debate among mushroomers as to the correct way to harvest Chanterelles. Most collectors consider cutting the mushrooms at the base of the stem to be the proper method so that the bed of mycelium remains intact and new mushrooms that emerge from the base of the stalk will not be harmed. Others insist that using a slight twisting motion to free the mushrooms from their beds (as is done in commercial Agaricus bisporus, Button Mushroom, factories) lessens the chance of infection or invasion of the mycelium bed through exposure to microbes from the cut stump that sometimes rots. Judy Rodgers from the Portland area has related to me that in her research plots in the Bull Run Watershed (the source of Portland's drinking water that is closed off from all public activities except logging [they may have recently changed the logging part, too]) that there is to date no evidence to suggest that either method is preferable over the other.

Other interesting information that Judy has collected includes data suggesting that more pounds of mushrooms are produced in years of above average temperatures as opposed to above average rainfall and the colonies spread in like amounts whether they are harvested or undisturbed.


Sometimes the Chanterelles are hard to spot.

This one looks kind of dry around the edges.


For all around fun, it is hard to beat a day spent collecting Chanterelles with your family. Children can readily distinguish Chanterelles from other mushrooms and they (like most adults as well) get excited over spotting the yellow treasures in the moss or needle buff.

Taxonomic Note:
There is a growing debate about exactly what species are present here in the Northwest. What was called Cantharellus cibarius here is not and is now called Cantherellus formosus but is it? C. formosus is associated with old-growth and downed old-growth woody debris and is listed in the record of decision as being a sensitive species for this reason. I maintain that the most common C. sp. here is not C. formosus. Work is now underway to prove this either way by examining the original collection that was named C. formosus and comparing it to specimens currently collected in various locations.


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