Brochure Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
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Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Alaska Region R10 - RG -209 FEB 2013 Introduction The coastal temperate rainforests of the Tongass and Chugach national forests often produce prolific fruitings of mushrooms in late summer and fall. For many Alaskans, mushrooms are a source of food. For others, they are a source of pigments for dyeing wool and other natural fibers. Still others merely enjoy their beauty. However, all Alaskans should appreciate these fungi for, without them, there would be no forests here. This brochure presents an introduction to mushrooms and illustrates a number of the more common and interesting of our local species to help Alaskans and visitors to better understand and enjoy our magnificent national forests. Unlike most plants, birds, and mammals, very few mushrooms have common names. Thus, while we have used common names where they exist, many of the species in this brochure can be referred to only by their scientific names. But, never fear. If you can talk with your kids about Tyrannosaurus rex, you can handle mushroom names! What is a mushroom? Mushrooms are produced by some fungi (singular: fungus), and their primary purpose is to make and spread tiny reproductive propagules called spores, which function much like plant seeds. After long being considered primitive plants, fungi now are accepted as their own kingdom. Unlike plants, fungi cannot make their own food, and their cell walls contain chitin rather than cellulose. Interestingly, chitin also is found in insect exoskeletons, providing evidence that the fungi are more closely related to animals (including us!) than they are to plants. Mushrooms arise from a mycelium (plural: mycelia), which is the actual “body” of the fungus and is comprised of a network of many tube-like microscopic filaments called hyphae (singular: hypha). Hyphae grow at their tips and are able to infiltrate a wide variety of substrates such as wood, leaf litter, soil, and even left-over pizza. Mushrooms to most people are umbrella-shaped structures with plate-like gills on the underside of their caps. However, besides the gilled mushrooms, there are others in many shapes and sizes, and they produce their spores in a variety of ways. Other major groups include chanterelles, boletes, polypores, spine-fungi, club- and coral-fungi, puffballs, jelly-fungi, cup-fungi, morels, false morels, and elfin saddles. Figure 1 shows the parts of a gilled mushroom. Learning the terminology will make it much easier for you to communicate with others about mushrooms and to make use of tools for identifying them. 2 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Patch (remnant of universal veil) Cap (pileus) Cap margin Gills (lamellae) Ring (remnant of partial veil) Stalk (stipe) Volva (remnant of universal veil) Figure 1. Parts of a gilled mushroom. How do fungi reproduce? The primary purpose of a mushroom is to disperse spores into the environment in hopes that they will land in a location with suitable moisture, temperature, and nutrient conditions to germinate and grow into a new mycelium. Each mushroom is capable of producing anywhere from thousands to billions of spores, but only an incredibly tiny fraction of them are successful. Reproduction cannot occur unless the mycelium of one mating type merges with the mycelium of a compatible type. Once this has happened, sexual reproduction, including the formation of mushrooms and production of spores, can occur, completing the life cycle (Figure 2). Ecological Roles of Fungi While fungi are found in almost every environment, mushroom-forming species are especially prevalent in forests. There they play critical roles in nutrient cycling, soil aggregation, and water retention, as well as provide a food source for animals large and small. In general, the three main lifestyles of mushroom-producing fungi in forests are decomposer, mycorrhizal partner, and parasite. Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 3 Figure 2. Life cycle of a typical mushroom fungus. Along with bacteria and other organisms, fungi break down all of the forest’s plant, animal, and microbial matter and make its components available for new generations of life. Fungi are particularly important in breaking down tough plant debris, as they are the only organisms capable of decomposing lignin, a major component of wood and other plant tissues. Many fungi form mycorrhizal (“fungus root”) associations with plants (Figure 3). This is mutually beneficial for both fungi and plants, as the plants receive nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as water and protection from soil pathogens, and the fungi get sugars produced by the plants. All of Alaska’s trees require mycorrhizal fungi for survival and growth, as do nearly all other plants. Relatively few parasitic fungi produce mushrooms. Most of them, such as honey mushrooms (genus Armillaria) and some polypores (such as Phaeolus schweinitzii) are parasitic on trees and are important forest pathogens. Some attack insects, while still others, such as Collybia cirrhata, attack other mushrooms. Although detrimental to the affected individuals, parasitic fungi are an essential part of healthy forests. 4 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Figure 3. An ectomycorrhizal association between a spruce tree and Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric. Mushroom Diversity and Identification Fungi are the second most diverse group of organisms (following the insects), with known mushroom-producing species currently totaling around 40–55,000 worldwide (a conservative estimate for the Pacific Northwest is at least 5,000 species). Further, diversity estimates suggest that only 15–40% of all North American mushroom-fungi have been described. Because of this overwhelming diversity and number of undescribed species, no field guide can even begin to include all of the species in an area. It is for this reason and many others that identification of mushrooms can be very difficult. This brochure highlights 51 species found in southern Alaska, including the most popular edible ones. For those with sufficient experience, many of these species can be recognized from their photographs and short descriptions. However, this brochure is not intended to serve as a standalone identification guide and never should be used as such. Many of the species you encounter will appear similar and will not be easily identifiable without considerable Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 5 experience, technical literature, and tools such as a compound microscope. And keep in mind that comparing specimens to photographs can lead to errors, as important characteristics such as smell, taste, color changes, habitat, and microscopic features cannot or might not be portrayed in a photo. While southern Alaska has a number of choice edibles that nearly anyone can learn to identify with confidence, it is best to learn many other species too. This will broaden your base of experience, strengthen your identification skills, and greatly reduce the chances of a misidentification, which could lead to illness or worse. Harvesting Edible Species In most cases, edible mushrooms can be harvested on the Tongass and Chugach national forests for personal or subsistence use without a permit. Persons doing so are expected to exercise reasonable care in protecting resources from damage. Some restrictions apply to quantities allowed for personal or subsistence harvest and areas where harvesting can occur. Commercial harvest of mushrooms on Alaskan national forests requires a permit in ALL cases. Be sure to check with the forest where you will be collecting for the current policies regarding harvesting for commercial or personal use: • Chugach National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 907-743-9500 • Tongass National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 907-225-3101 If you wish to harvest on non-national forest lands, contact the land manager or owner for permission and any permit requirements before you head out. When harvesting mushrooms to identify or eat, there are several things you should keep in mind. First, it is important to collect the entire mushroom and, if possible, to collect several specimens (a “collection”) that show a range of variation. Second, keep collections separate to reduce possible confusion when you return home at the end of the day. Third, take note of the surroundings in which you found each collection. Important details to record include tree species present, substrate the mushroom is growing on (wood, soil, moss, other mushrooms, etc.), and habit (e.g., is the mushroom growing singly, in groups, or a cluster?). Also make note of the color and odor of the mushroom and any color changes that may occur when you cut it in half or handle it. 6 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region To increase the success of your outing, take along the following items: • Safety first: A map and compass, GPS device with spare batteries, whistle, rain gear, bear spray, extra food, water and a communications plan. Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to be back. Mushroom hunters are notorious for getting lost in the woods! • A shallow basket or tackle (utility) boxes. If using a basket, take wax paper or aluminum foil for wrapping your collections to keep the different types separated. If it is not wet out, you can also use paper bags, but plastic bags are not recommended as they hasten spoilage of the mushrooms. • Camera and notebook to document surroundings and mushroom features. • Small knife or slender garden trowel to excavate specimens. Finally, when harvesting wild mushrooms: 1. Remember there are no “rules of thumb” when it comes to determining whether a mushroom is poisonous or edible. The only reliable approach is to know EXACTLY what species you have. When in doubt, throw it out! 2. Collect only fresh mushrooms in good condition from uncontaminated environments (e.g., avoid major roadsides and chemically treated lawns). 3. Save two or three specimens in good condition in the refrigerator for later inspection by experienced identifiers in the event of adverse effects. 4. Always cook mushrooms well before eating. 5. When trying a new species, eat only a small amount of that one species and then wait 24-48 hours before eating other mushrooms. People can have reactions to edible species, as with any food. If you have an adverse reaction, please report your experience to the North American Mycological Association poison case registry (www.namyco.org). 6. Eat wild mushrooms in moderation. Some contain toxins that appear to accumulate in our bodies over time to a point where adverse effects manifest themselves. In addition, overeating of even good edible species can make you sick, because mushrooms can be difficult to digest. Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 7 Grisette / Amanita vaginata group Yellow patches / Amanita augusta Photo by Kate Mohatt Fly agaric / Amanita muscaria 8 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Gilled Mushrooms The Genus Amanita Amanitas are well-known for a number of reasons. They are mostly large and conspicuous, many are brightly colored, some are choice edibles, others are deadly poisonous, and nearly all have a distinctive elegant look. Amanitas have white (usually) spores, free or nearly free gills, a universal veil that leaves remnants on the stalk base and often on the cap, and usually a partial veil that often leaves a ring on the stalk. The remnants of the universal veil, either those on the lower stalk (the volva) or those on the cap (as warts or a patch), are critical for species identification. Young unopened amanita buttons sometimes are confused with puffballs; however, cutting a “puffball” in half to look for the outline of a developing mushroom versus uniformly marshmallow-like tissue will allow them to be told apart easily. Grisettes / Amanita vaginata group Grisettes can be very common in southern Alaska. There are several (mostly unnamed) species in this group and Amanita vaginata itself, a European species, probably does not occur here. The cap is grayish to gray-brown or brown and often is topped with a patch of tissue. The cap margin is striate. There is no ring, and the volva consists of a very fragile, loose, sac-like cup that will remain in the ground unless carefully excavated. Our grisettes are found primarily with conifers, but some occur with hardwoods. Potentially edible, but not recommended, as several amanitas are deadly poisonous. Yellow Patches / Amanita augusta Historically, the names Amanita aspera and A. franchetii have been used for this species. Yellow patches can be recognized by its medium-sized to larger fruitbodies and brown to graybrown or yellowish brown cap with mealy warts that are yellow then grayish in age. The gills are white to yellowish. The volva consists of loose bits of yellow veil on the stalk base, which often drop off into the surrounding soil. The partial veil leaves a large ring that is bright yellow on the underside. Not edible, probably poisonous. Fly Agaric / Amanita muscaria With its brightly colored cap and white “polka dots,” the fly agaric is the most widely recognized mushroom in Alaska. However, it is highly variable, and cap color ranges from white to yellows and oranges, to deep red, and even brown. Research conducted at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks suggests that the fly agaric actually comprises several different species. All of the forms have striate cap margins, rings that may or may not persist into maturity, and volvas in the form of rings of tissue that extend part-way up the stalk. Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 9 Mycena rosella Mycena aurantiidisca Mycena strobilinoides 10 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region from a swollen base. All contain ibotenic acid and so cause accidental poisonings. However, they also are sought by some who seek their psychoactive effects, and the fly agaric has been used ritualistically in Siberia. Fairy Bonnet Mushrooms / The Genus Mycena Mycenas are small, fragile mushrooms, many of which fit the common name, fairy bonnets, quite well. They often are produced in large numbers (“troops”) over large areas of forest floor and so, in terms of numbers of fruitbodies, probably are the most abundant mushrooms in southern Alaska. They are important decomposers of a wide variety of plant materials, but not dung. The hordes of brown and gray mycenas are especially difficult to identify, but the more brightly colored species often can be named successfully. Mycena rosella, with its beautiful pink color and distinctly pink-edged gills is one such species. Mycena amabilissima (not pictured) is a very similar pink species but lacks the colored gill edges. Yet another is Mycena aurantiidisca, which is brilliant orange at first, but gradually fades, usually at the edge of the cap first, to yellowish or almost whitish. Typically, when found, they are yellowish around the edge and still bright orange in the center. Mycena strobilinoides is another brilliant orange species—it differs by having a bright orange gill edge and in fading uniformly. A close relative, Hemimycena delectabilis, is pure white and has gills that run part-way down the stalk. There are no important edible mycenas, most being tiny and fleshless, and some could be poisonous. Hemimycena delectabilis Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 11 Catathelasma ventricosum Lackluster laccaria / Laccaria laccata Angel wings / Pleurocybella porrigens 12 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Catathelasma ventricosum and C. imperiale Catathelasmas can be recognized by their large size, strongly inrolled cap margin, tough texture, long decurrent, crowded, narrow gills, and especially by the presence of two veils, an inner one that leaves a conspicuous ring on the upper stalk, and an outer one that leaves an additional narrow ring or ring-zone and patches of tissue below the upper ring. In addition, the flesh has a strong mealy odor and taste. The spores are white. The Alaskan mushrooms can be difficult to assign to species. Catathelasma ventricosum is supposed to have a pale to grayish cap and C. imperiale a brownish cap and be somewhat larger; however, intermediate-sized mushrooms with grayish brown caps are not uncommon. Considered a good, or even choice, edible by some, worthless by others. Lackluster Laccaria / Laccaria laccata One of the most commonly encountered gilled mushrooms in southern Alaskan forests, this species can be highly variable in size and appearance. The cap is pinkish orange to cinnamon. The gills are thick, well-spaced, and whitish to pink, and the spores are white. The stalk is very fibrous and often darker than the cap, with whitish fuzz at the base. Laccaria bicolor (not pictured) is very similar and also occurs in our area. It differs by having purplish gills and purple fuzz at the base of the stalk. Both species are edible, but aren’t often collected. Angel Wings / Pleurocybella porrigens Angel wings can be found on conifer (especially hemlock) logs and stumps throughout southern Alaska, often occurring in large, exquisite, overlapping masses. Angel wings has spoon- to conch-shaped caps that are translucent-striate when fresh and develop a wavy margin when expanded. The mushrooms are white to ivory, have virtually no stalk, thin, rather tough, elastic flesh, and crowded narrow gills. Although thin-fleshed, angel wings is a fairly popular edible mushroom. However, it has been responsible for several deaths in Japan (under unusual circumstances), so eating it, especially in large amounts, is not recommended until more is known. Oyster mushrooms (genus Pleurotus) are similar but most often are found on cottonwoods and are larger, fleshier, and usually have tan caps. Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 13 Green russula / Russula aeruginea The sickener / Russula emetica Shrimp russula / Russula xerampelina 14 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Brittlegills / The Genus Russula Russula is a particularly easy genus to recognize. However, most of its many species are difficult to identify. Most russulas are medium to large mushrooms with colorful caps, white stalks, and a squatty appearance. The other distinctive characteristic is their brittle texture—a fresh russula thrown against a tree will shatter like automobile safety glass with relatively clean edges on the fragments (we recommend that you not make a habit of destroying russulas in this manner as, when intact and in place, they are a very attractive visual element in our forests). A less violent means of experiencing this is to break a fresh stalk in half—it will break cleanly like a piece of chalk. The spores in different species vary from pure white, through shades of cream and yellow, to fairly dark ocher. The flesh of many species is hot-peppery either immediately or delayed. Very few russulas are considered worth eating. Green Russula / Russula aeruginea This common russula tends to blend in with southern Alaska’s mossy forest floor, usually under spruce. It has a bright green cap, white stalk, white to cream spores, and a mild taste. Considered edible and tasty by some. The Sickener / Russula emetica Russula emetica is another associate of spruces, often occurring in sphagnum moss. It has a bright cherry red cap and pure white gills, spores, and stalk. The taste is immediately very hot-peppery and the mushroom is considered to be poisonous. Shrimp Russula / Russula xerampelina Shrimp russula produces large stout fruitbodies with a fishy odor (when mature), whitish stalks that stain brown when handled, dull orange-yellow spores and gills (when mature), and mild taste. The typical form has a reddish, maroon, or deep purple cap and various degrees of pink tinge on the stalk, but the cap also can be green to olive to dark brown or blackish, or brownish purple. The various color forms may actually be different species. This is probably the most frequently eaten russula. Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 15 Orange milk-cap / Lactarius deliciosus group Red hot milk-cap / Lactarius rufus Lactarius scrobiculatus 16 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Milk-Caps / The Genus Lactarius Milk-caps are very similar in stature and brittleness to russulas. However, they differ primarily in their usually duller colors and by exuding a watery to milky or colored fluid when the gills or stalk are broken or cut. Some species are collected for food, including the hot-peppery species that generally are said to be poisonous. In Finland, Russia, and other areas, such species are regularly eaten, but only after pickling or other proper preparation. Orange Milk-Cap / Lactarius deliciosus group The name Lactarius deliciosus has been applied to many different mushrooms that have an overall orange color, a tendency to turn greenish when handled or in age, and orange to reddish orange milk. In North America, several varieties occur; however, apparently none are the “real” L. deliciosus (a European mushroom). The orange latex usually is scant and may not change or stain the flesh. Orange milk-caps are gathered for food, but ours are not generally considered deserving of the name deliciosus. Red Hot Milk-Cap / Lactarius rufus This is a very common milk-cap in many Alaskan forests. The cap is reddish brown to brick-colored or orange-brown, smooth and dry, and has an inrolled margin when young. The gills are pale orange and the stalk is pinkish brown to brownish orange or reddish orange. The copious milk is white, and the taste is exceedingly, though slowly, hot peppery. Inedible due to its hot taste, and reported to cause gastric upset. Lactarius scrobiculatus A number of milk-caps have a bearded cap margin and concentrically zoned caps. Lactarius scrobiculatus has whitish to golden yellow caps and gills that are whitish to yellowish and develop brownish stains. The copious latex is white and quickly turns yellow. The stalk is dry, white to yellowish with large shiny sunken spots, and eventually develops yellowish to rusty brown stains. Another common bearded species is L. repraesentaneus (not pictured), which has a rich yellow cap, white to pale yellow latex that becomes purplish after drying, and flesh that stains purple when broken. A third is L. torminosus (not pictured), with a pinkish to light pinkish orange zoned cap and copious white latex that remains white or slowly changes to yellowish. It occurs with birches. All of these species have a hot peppery to bitter taste and require special procedures to render them edible. Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 17 Gypsy / Cortinarius caperatus Cortinarius semisanguineus Cortinarius croceus 18 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region The Genus Cortinarius Cortinarius is by far the largest genus of mushrooms, and it is exceptionally well represented in southern Alaskan forests. The genus presents a colorful, but bewildering, array of red, yellow, orange, blue to violet, and greenish species, plus huge numbers of brownish ones. They come in many sizes and shapes and, except for some smaller species, are relatively fleshy. They typically have cinnamon brown to rust-colored spores. The name Cortinarius comes from the cobwebby veil, called a cortina (from the Latin for curtain), that at first covers the developing gills in nearly all species in the genus. Cortinarius includes species that are deadly poisonous as well as others that are considered good edibles in Europe. However, because our species are so little known, and sometimes impossible to identify, we have no information on the edibility of most species. In Alaska, only the gypsy is considered choice and eaten by many mushroom hunters. The Gypsy / Cortinarius caperatus Unlike most species of Cortinarius, the gypsy has a skirtlike ring and, because of that, also has been classified in the genus, Rozites. It is distinctive among brown-spored mushrooms because of the persistent white membranous ring and the white universal veil that often leaves a thin frost-like coating on the young cap and a slight rim around the base of the stalk. The gypsy is very abundant in southern Alaska and commonly is collected for food, although it is not recommended for beginners because of the difficulty of identification. Dyers’ Delights / Cortinarius Subgenus Dermocybe Because of its large size, Cortinarius has been split into about a half-dozen more manageable subgroups, one of which is Dermocybe with slender fruitbodies and bright red, orange, yellow, or greenish colors. These are among the more highly sought-after mushrooms for their pigments that make them excellent for dyeing wool and other natural fibers. Especially prized are the red-gilled species, such as Cortinarius semisanguineus and C. phoeniceus (now C. smithii, not pictured), because of the difficulty finding natural sources of red dye. Cortinarius croceus is a common yellow-gilled species. Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 19 Cortinarius traganus Cortinarius violaceus Cortinarius evernius 20 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Cortinarius traganus Cortinarius traganus is widespread and often abundant in Alaska and elsewhere in western North America. Its coloration is peculiar in that the cap, stalk, and veil often are a beautiful lilac to blue-lilac; however, the flesh is mottled saffron to brown-yellow. It has a fruity or somewhat pungent odor, although for some people this is hard to detect. A similar species that is common in southern Alaska is C. camphoratus (not pictured), a completely pale blue-violet species with a very strong disagreeable odor, not unlike that of rotting potatoes. Cortinarius violaceus Cortinarius violaceus is perhaps the most distinctive species in the genus. It has a dark violet, dry, scaly to wooly cap with a somewhat metallic sheen. The gills also are dark violet (when young) and the stalk is typically broadly club-shaped, dry and violet. Cortinarius violaceus is widespread in older forests, but usually in small numbers. Edible, but not common, so picking for the table is not recommended. Cortinarius evernius A very common mushroom usually found among mosses under spruce trees. Beautiful violet with the cap margin adorned with whitish veil remnants when young, it soon fades to shades of brown, with little of the violet color left at maturity. Like most cortinariuses, little is known about its edibility so avoidance is recommended. Cortinarius trivialis Quite common under aspen, Cortinarius trivialis is one of many members of the genus that have a slimy cap and slimy stalk. The banded stalk helps set it apart from similar species. Edibility unknown, so avoidance is recommended. Cortinarius trivialis Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 21 Deadly galerina / Galerina marginata Alaskan gold / Phaeolepiota aurea Shaggy mane / Coprinus comatus 22 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Deadly Galerina / Galerina marginata The genus Galerina includes very small to almost mediumsized brown mushrooms that often are difficult to identify. Many are mycena-like, but others are larger and fleshier. All galerinas have rich brown to rusty brown spores. Many are associated with mosses; others occur on wood. Deadly galerina is one of the larger species, with a dome-shaped, brown to yellow-brown cap that is smooth, moist-sticky, striate along the edge when fresh, and fades to tan or buff. The gills and stalk are brown, and the veil often leaves a slight ring or fibrous ring-zone on the stalk. The fruitbodies often occur in clusters or groups but can be scattered or solitary as well. It occurs on stumps and logs of conifers and hardwoods, or grows from pieces of buried wood, wood chips, or other woody debris. This mushroom also has been called G. autumnalis, G. venenata, and G. unicolor. However, by any name, it is just as dangerous, containing the same toxins found in the deadly amanitas. Learn to recognize and avoid this mushroom, especially when searching for other small brown mushrooms. Alaskan Gold / Phaeolepiota aurea If there were a prize for easiest mushroom to identify, Alaskan gold certainly would be a contender. Its large size, golden color, powdery surface, skirt-like ring, brown spores, and tendency to grow in large groups are distinctive. It is fairly common, usually being found in disturbed areas, such as in parks or along roadsides. It is said to be edible for most people but to cause digestive upset in some. Shaggy Mane / Coprinus comatus The shaggy mane is a frequent forest roadside attraction. When young, the cap is bullet-shaped, white with shaggy light brown scales. In age, the cap and exceedingly close-packed gills liquefy to a black ink-like fluid. The stalk is long and white, with a movable ring that sometimes drops off. Usually found in disturbed areas such as roadsides and yards. Many consider it a choice edible, although it must be found and cooked before it begins to liquefy and it should not be collected from contaminated areas such as chemically treated lawns or near busy roadways. Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 23 Pacific golden chanterelle / Cantharellus formosus Winter chanterelle, yellow foot / Craterellus tubaeformis Blue or black chanterelle / Polyozellus multiplex 24 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Chanterelles The chanterelles include mushrooms that are not all closely related but are similar in bearing their spores on thick, shallow, folds with blunt edges and cross-veins instead of true gills. They range from small to large and have a cap and stalk, although there is not always a clear distinction between them. In many cases, they are more or less vase-, funnel-, or trumpet-shaped. Pacific Golden Chanterelle / Cantharellus formosus Although nearly all of the golden chanterelles in North America have been referred to as Cantharellus cibarius, recent studies have confirmed that there actually are many different species. The fruitbodies are often large for a chanterelle and have a dull orange to brownish orange cap that readily bruises brownish and often is finely scaly. The fertile ridges often are deep and relatively thin; they usually are pale orange-yellow but may have a pinkish cast. The odor is pleasant, sometimes like apricots. Golden chanterelles have been reported from southeast Alaska as far north as Haines and Yakutat, but not yet from south-central Alaska. This is a very popular edible mushroom, and large quantities are collected in the Pacific Northwest for sale and home consumption. Winter Chanterelle or Yellow Foot / Craterellus tubaeformis Winter chanterelle is a small, slender, trumpet-shaped mushroom with a brownish or orange-brown cap, hollow, waxy-looking stalk, and penchant for growing on mossy, rotten wood. It has a long fruiting season and could be the most common mushroom in southern Alaska. Despite its small size, winter chanterelle is edible and considered choice by some. Its tendency to grow in large troops allows it to be gathered in sufficient quantity to be worthwhile. Blue or Black Chanterelle / Polyozellus multiplex Distinctive and striking, this blue-purplish to blackish mushroom is a rare treat for the eyes. It grows in tightpacked, wavy-edged clusters. Found under spruce at least as far north as Cordova, it seems to be an uncommon to somewhat rare species, often occurring in old-growth stands. Some mushroom hunters consider blue chanterelle to be a good edible, but others are not impressed by it. It also is used as a natural dye but, because of its rarity, restraint is recommended when collecting for the table or dye-pot. Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska 25 Boletus coniferarum Photo by Michael Beug King bolete / Boletus edulis Boletus luridiformis 26 U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region Boletes “Bolete” refers to mushrooms that usually have a fleshy cap