Chanterelle mushrooms are relatively unique mushrooms found in the Southwestern part of Montana. They resemble closely to a flipped up umbrella with irregular scalloped edges around the cap, and have blunt ridges that run along side the stem. The color of chanterelle mushrooms is a warm yellow to bright orange tone bearing the scent of apricot. When searching for chanterelles it is important to be aware of your surroundings.
A favorite spot for seasoned chanterelle mushroom hunters is in the Bozeman area of Montana. They naturally look for the mushrooms in higher elevations, but the mushroom can be found in some surprising places. When you see a lot of moss this is usually a good place to start.
Chanterelles grow in a shaded moisture rich environment, and often will be present around white forest pine, birch,beech, conifer, spruce , Douglas fir and Western hemlock, low-lying bushes, or even on country dirt roads. For a beginner, the search for chanterelles may take some time to identify, because they have some very close look-alikes. Two such mushrooms are:
Unlike chanterelles, Jack-O-Lanterns have sharp gills, wider more uniformed caps, a deeper orange color, and grow in tight clusters. They have the ability to grow even without the presence of trees, which will never be the case with a chanterelle mushroom, and are very poisonous.
False chanterelle also have sharp gills and more of a brownish orange hue that is not uniform all obver the body of the mushroom, have thinner stems, and lack the distinctive mild fragrance of apricot. They are considered by some to be mildly poisonous and unedible.
Once you spot the differences between the Jack-O-Lantern and the false chanterelle with the real chanterelle mushroom, it should take no time at all to fill your bucket with them. However, if you have doubts about the mushrooms you’ve picked being the right ones, throw them away. Eating poisonous mushrooms can be fatal!
Here’s a simple checklist to follow:
*Are the mushrooms a bright yellowish-orange color?
*Does it have the slight aroma of apricots?
*Does it have scalloped irregular-shaped caps of different sizes?
*Chanterelles always grow in the presence of trees, but can also be found near moss and bushes.
*Have fleshier stems
*Uniform color over the entire body
Chanterelle season starts from mid-July to early to late fall depending on the weather conditions. Remember to research a reliable edible mushroom guide book, and study photos and a detailed description of this particular mushroom to avoid mistaking it for a look-alike. Educating yourself will make your mushroom picking experience a fun one!