Fool me once… The False Chanterelle

I love to feature all the lovely wild edible mushrooms I find (when I get the precious time), but every so often I have to include those annoying ‘look-a-likes’ so that we can all be aware of and be prepared for such party poopers!

Hygrophoropsis aurantiacaThe False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) is a very common and strikingly colourful mushroom, predominantly found in small to large groups, mainly in coniferous woodland. They can also be found on heathland too.

Although this mushroom is mainly an autumn species, I have often found it during late summer (just like the true Chanterelle) around early August, hence the reason I’m featuring it now at the end of July.

Myself and many other people have made the same mistake in thinking their luck was in – “Chanterelles – Fantastic”. Oh, how wrong we were. The Chanterelle (Chantharellus cibarius) has the same fruiting season (including late summer), habitat (as well as deciduous woods) and general size and appearance.

And as always, the devil is in the detail when distinguishing between the two. Size-wise, they can be very close, but other feature differences would seem quite obvious if you had either species side by side. But if you’re unfamiliar with both, then here’s what to look out for:

1. The Colour: The False Chanterelle tends to be a deeper Orange-Yellow compared to lighter egg yoke yellow of the True Chanterelle.

2. The Cap: The False Chanterelle has a fine ‘downy’ surface texture (esp. when younger). The True Chanterelle has a more distinctive ‘irregular’ wavy and lobed shape all round the edge.

3. The Gills: Although they both extend down the stem, The True Chanterelle has ‘false’ gills which are thicker and more fleshy.

4. The Smell: The False Chanterelle has a ‘mushroomy’ smell while the True Chanterelle has a very distinctive fruity, apricot-like odour.

3. Spore Print: To double check, you can take a spore print – False Chanterelle = white / True Chanterelle = Yellow/ochre.

Unfortunately, I don’t currently have any (True) Chanterelle images to show in comparison. I will add when I can at a later date of course.

The False Chanterelle has been known to be edible just like the True Chanterelle, but obviously not as superior in flavour etc. Some reference books have labelled it as harmless, but even though it isn’t deadly there have been reports from some people suffering unpleasant or alarming hallucinations. So I would recommend that nobody eat this mushroom.

And to finish, by adding confusion to the confusion, there’s are ‘look-a-like’ to this ‘look-a-like’ which I think most people in Southern Europe should be concerned about. The Jack o’ Lantern Mushroom (Omphalotus olearius) has patchy distribution throughout Southern Europe (with rare sightings in UK and Northern Europe). Again, it looks very similar to the True and False Chanterelles but is definitely posionous. Have no fear though, these guys usually grow in tight groups on living or dead wood of deciduous trees (from the underground roots) so that rules out the others and the major feature the Jack o’ Lantern has is that it’s (mature) gills have an amazing phosphorescent property and glow very bright green in the dark. This I know only from research and I would love to find some and see the effect in action. So that’s a good excuse for a holiday in Southern Europe then aye!?

Keep your eyes out this Late summer/autumn time and I hope your Chanterelle hunting moments don’t get ruined by this naughty twin.

Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca

QUICK ID TABLE: FALSE CHANTERELLE Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca

CAP / FLESH

2 -8 cm diametrre. Convex to funnel shaped. Often inrolled at the edge (margin). Orange-Yellow.

STEM

3 – 5 cm x 0.5 – 1cm. Often curved. Same colour or darker than cap.

GILLS / SPORE PRINT

Decurrent, forked. Orange, thin and crowded.
Spore Print: White (see how to take a spore print here).

HABITAT / SEASON

Coniferous woods, heaths. Very common. Late summer – autumn.

EDIBILITY

Said to be edible but reports of hallucinations recorded.

27 replies
  1. Varsha
    Varsha says:

    Hi John,
    Congrats’ on yet another find, I genuinly think the weather is having adverse affects on my mushroom hunting this year. This time last year, I encountered this fungus among many others that are nowhere to be seen this year. I’ve been to the East Riding of Yorkshire and back without finding a single fairy ring champignon/field mushroom! Now I would quite like your thoughts on this John as one would naturally assume constant rain to be beneficial for fungi, yet I can find no alternate explanation.
    PS: I like the updated website :)

    Reply
  2. J C Harris
    J C Harris says:

    Hi Varsha
    I know what you mean. I’ve had little luck with some mushrooms I normally see every year (I thought I’d see more with the rain). But on the other hand have found new species that I haven’t seen before (including a difficult Amanita species). Last year I only saw one group of Fairy Ring Champignons (a group of 4!) And this year they’re everywhere – you would think that would be the case for all species. In my experience I find that mushrooms never follow logical patterns. They fruit when they like and I’ve even heard of people following temperature, humidity, even phases of the moon! As far as I know there is no scientific explanation.

    It has been an extremely wet summer so far, and I have seen mild effects on mushroom appearances. Sometimes though, I think, it can be too wet and be more of a deterrent to mushrooms fruiting – but that in all honesty is just a wild stab in the dark guess.

    Most mushroom species usually don’t have to fruit at all. As long as the mycelium itself is thriving well. They fruit when they like and/or need to.

    Hope that makes sense. It’s not the best answer in the world but I hope you see where I’m coming from.

    All the best
    John

    Reply
    • Varsha
      Varsha says:

      It does make sense John, but at the same time it feels a bit backwards and frustrating. We were apparantly in a drought last year and even so, I managed to find an assortment fungi everywhere, I was like a child in a sweet shop! But this year, nada! I have seen some interesting slime mould kind of things though, and would be happy to show you if you fancied it, also maybe to help identify them?

      But anyway, I wont give up, I shall keep searching!

      Reply
  3. J C Harris
    J C Harris says:

    Hi Varsha

    Feel free to send me any pictures of fungi (slime moulds) for identification, although I often struggle with the moulds! but I’ve seen a lot of them too lately.

    And just to say, I was out yesterday most of the day searching for anything and everything – not much luck at all, although you’ll probably be annoyed I found some branched Oyster mushrooms! Sorry – that was by only freak chance as they were hiding well in the undergrowth on a log. And in a way, with all this rain, haven’t you noticed so much more greenery and growth? A fair chunk of mushrooms don’t like competition with other growing plants etc. and if they do, then they’ve been pretty hard to spot lately. I only saw the slightest bit of white through the grass and plants in discovering the Oyster mushroom. And on the otherhand I probably missed a load more earlier – who knows?

    Anyway, I have a good feeling this autumn will be a great harvest.

    All the best
    John

    Reply
  4. Pete McAleer
    Pete McAleer says:

    Can I ask; has anyone come across chanterelles this summer?
    Although I have kept my eyes peeled…not a sign, except labelled as Girolles in the supermarket (from Hungary)

    Reply
  5. Robyn
    Robyn says:

    I am glad I am not the only one unable to find chanterelles this year. I have seen many, many other varieties of mushroom but no C’s. It’s a very sad state of affairs in my house this year. If anyone does spot any, please post!

    Reply
  6. J C Harris
    J C Harris says:

    Don’t worry Robyn. I will post when (or if) I find any this year. I need some good photos of Chanterelles. It is a bit sad that I can’t find any at all. I may get lucky though!

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi Shannon

      You can send your mushroom Pictures to me for identification by clicking the Contact link at the top of the page in the side menu. Thanks.

      PS. The picasa link you sent didn’t work! Sorry.

      Reply
  7. John
    John says:

    Thanks, I have emailed you a couple of pics using your contact link at the top of the page. Let me know what you think, and thanks for looking.

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi John. Sorry for the delay. I have sent you a reply and just to clarify – They definitely look like False Chanterelles. They have distinctive gills rather than the loose ‘gill-like’ fleshiness of the true Chanterelle.

      Reply
  8. David Gallant
    David Gallant says:

    John, my name is David and I live in Fairfield New Brunswick Canada. I had a bump in my paved drive way and thought I had a tree stump growing up through the 4 inches of pave. To my surprize when I removed the crumbled pavement away I found a mushroom. I took it to Natural resources and they believed it to be a False Chanterelle. My question is can such a flimsy plant push it’s way through 4 inches of 7 year old pavement.

    David Gallant

    Reply
  9. bri
    bri says:

    I was duped. It was only after I harvested a bag and came home, and was deeply suspicious. I had to consult my secretive and all knowing expert friend who told me I had maybe 20 actual chantrelles, and a whole bag of sadness. I knew it was too good to be true when I found them blocks from my condo. Boo to the imposter!
    Thanks for the identification post!
    Bri

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi James
      Many thanks for that. I’ll add at some point and credit you of course. It’s a shame that around Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, we have low to no records of true Chanterelles! Doh! However, a few have been found here and there – so never say never…
      All the best
      John

      Reply

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  1. […] Do NOT have true gills that looks like blades and can easily be plucked off, like button mushrooms or false chanterelles […]

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