Pacific Golden Chanterelle                                              Cantharellus formosus



                                                                     Cap will sometimes form bumps on center.



                                                                                      Chanterelles grow off yellow mycelium.


Description:  Orange mushroom overall with ridges rather than gills which extend down short thick stalk. Cap is wavy and becomes vase like.

Season:  Summer to late fall, depending on the weather. The wetter the better. By late fall huge 8 inch specimens resembling giant flowers can be found.

Habitat: Throughout mixed and conifer forests in moss, forest duff and on the ground. Usually in patches of several to many close by and appearing in the same area each year.

Edibility:  A truly delicious mushroom with a high vitamin 'A' content, entire books have been written on hunting and cooking chanties. Easily found and identified, it is perhaps the most recognized mushroom in north america. A common edible heavily picked around the world for centuries, it is now on the endangered species list in 4 countries. It has been picked by the Chinese for over 6000 years and was also popular during Roman times.
     In British Columbia, it appears earlier than fall mushrooms but needs cool, moist weather to reach harvestable size. Because they are mycorrhizial they can't be cultivated commercially so pickers harvest the wild crop up and down the Pacific coast, especially in the Queen Charlotte and Vancouver Islands. Although not as valuable as some other commercially picked species, it is easily found and can grow in large quantities. In the Queen Charlottes, helicopter pilots spot the patches of 'gold' from the air. Most chanterelles harvested in BC are sent to Europe where it is known as 'pfifferling' in Germany and has over 200 other regional names.

Picking:  Chanterelles should always be sliced off at the base. This leaves the mycelial network intact and leaves the 'dirty foot' in the soil. The flesh is easily sliced by using an old credit card or even a slim piece of wood. Many people use a knife but it is very easy to leave an expensive knife behind and it is also dangerous. One can easily trip in the forest and accidentally cut themselves.

Cleaning:  Aside from the odd slug trail or squirrel nibble, west coast chanties are virtually bug free. Use a small brush or damp cloth to remove any dirt or duff . Trim any dirty or undesirable area's.

Storage:  Chanterelles can be stored in the fridge for several days. They can also be dried, cooked and frozen or stored in spiced liquor, virgin olive oil or vinegar. They do become a little rubbery when dried, best methods are by canning or by lightly sautéing then freezing.

Cooking:   Very versatile. Tasty alone or mixed with meat or fish dishes, chanties add colour to bland dishes. Their flavour is enhanced by the addition of lemon juice.They should never be eaten raw.  At a banquet at the Vancouver Hotel several years ago many guests ended up in the hospital after eating a wild mushroom salad containing sliced, raw chanterelles. Cook well as they can be tough. Chopped up finely and fried in butter until almost crunchy makes a great addition to baked potatoes.

Chanterelle Vodka:

1 1/2 cup vodka
3 oz. fresh, young and trimmed chanties

Let mushrooms soak in vodka for 2 or 3 weeks, until they sink. Chill thoroughly and serve as an apéritif.

From Puget Sound Mycological Society's 'Wild Mushroom Recipes'...Mushrooms, Italian Style

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons anchovy paste
6 cups chanterelles
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, melt butter. Add anchovy paste Cook until blended. Set aside.
In another pan, heat oil. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until liquid evaporates. Add tomatoes and garlic. Add anchovy-butter mix and heat to boiling point. Simmer a few minutes until all ingredients are well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Comments:  Mistakenly referred to as C. cibarius, a slightly oranger eastern north american specie, for many years. DNA analysis in the mid 1990's have shown that the chanterelles of the west coast are in fact C. formosus.  There have been reports of both species having been found on Mt. Elphie. There is also a White Chanterelle (C. subalbidus) which is also a choice edible. It is not as common on Mt. Elphie but can be found in the same area's at the same time.


Cap:  3 - 20cm broad. Yellowish to egg yolk orange or brownish orange. Convex when young, flattening out with a central depression and becoming funnel shaped. Margin wavy and when young, incurved. Cap sometimes forms bumps in center.

Stem:  2 - 10cm  X  .5 - 3cm thick.  Usually stout, solid, firm, dry, smooth and the colour of the cap. Tapers downward.

Gills:  Chanterelle gills are unlike those of most mushrooms. They are more ridge like, blunt, narrow and shallow. They are also forked and deeply decurrent downstalk and the same colour as cap or slightly lighter, sometimes with a pink tinge.

Flesh:  Thick, firm and paler than cap. It darkens slightly when bruised and has a slightly fruity odour similar to apricots. Taste is a very slightly peppery.

Spores:  7 - 11  X  4 - 6µ  Elliptical, smooth and a creamy pale yellow.