Cantharellus lateritius, commonly known as ‘smooth chanterelle’, is a species of edible fungus from the Cantharellaceae family. The American Lewis David de Schweinitz first described the species as Thelephora Chantarella in 1822. The taxonomy of the species then changed on several occasions over time and its epithet was finally changed to Cratarellus lateritius in 1856.
This species is mycorrhizal¹, that is, it lives in symbiosis with a plant. This symbiosis also nourishes the soil around the fungus. The tree of predilection for the species is the oak or any hardwood tree. The mycelium (network of hyphae) attaches itself to tree roots and grows mushrooms when it is ready to reproduce. The sporocarp or fruiting body of the fungi is usually bright yellow to orange in color. Also, the mushroom cap can vary in shape. It can be small and round or wavy and flowerlike.
Cantharellus lateritius is usually found in North America, Africa, and some parts of Asia notably the Himalayas. A mushroom bloom occurs in late spring to mid summer², sometimes extending to early fall. The prime chanterelle season occurs from June through August whereby an abundance of mushrooms sprouts from under trees. Cantharellus lateritius grows mostly in soil having low nitrogen levels and low pH, and good drainage. The ideal pH is 4 to 5.5. In other words, this species of mushroom has a preference for acidic, humid, and damp environments. It is common for mushrooms of this species growing in particularly wet areas to exhibit more pronounced gills. Additionally, Cantharellus lateritius produces fewer spores compared to other mushrooms from the same or different families.
This particular species is also widely known as one of the best-loved wild edible mushrooms. Chanterelles’ morphological features are distinctive enough to differentiate them from the wild non-edible mushrooms³. Cantharellus lateritius has a smooth hymenium or undersurface compared to other species of the same family. Mature specimens also have funnel-shaped caps with their outer layer bearing spore-producing cells.
After further analysis of the species, mycologists have found traces of carotenoid in the mushrooms. The carotenoid is a naturally yellow, orange, or red pigment produced by some biological organisms. The compound can be found in carrots, tomatoes, and shrimp.
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Identification and Description
Cap: bright yellow to orange, 2 to 9 cm (0.8 to 3.5 in) in diameter, convex to funnel-shaped with 𝞵wavy margins, smooth on the underside, dry surface covered with a thin layer of hairs, sunken in the center.
Gills: vein-like shallow gills, less than 1 mm wide, merging with the stem, pale yellow
Stem: curved, orange to yellow to white, very thick and plump, 2 to 8 cm (1 to 3 in), can be stuffed with mycelia or solid
Smell: fruity smell, similar to peach or apricot
Taste: mild to faintly acrid, no distinctive taste, in particular, may have a woodsy or earthy flavor
Spores: elliptical when magnified, smooth, 7-7.5 by 4.5 – 5 𝞵m
Spore color: light yellow spore print
Spore-bearing cells: club-shaped basidia, 75-80 by 7-9 𝞵m, 4-5-6-spored, thick walls
Edibility: choice edible, not poisonous
Habitat: can vary but usually solitary or in clusters under hardwood trees such as oak and birch trees, on the soil of forests, sloping creek banks, on the mossy ground.
Flesh: solid to partly hollow, white to pale yellow, 0.5 to 0.9 cm (0.2 – 0.4 in) thick, shreds easily
Cantharellus Lateritius Look-Alikes
Although Cantharellus lateritius specimens are easy to identify from other mushrooms, their funnel-like caps and bright color make them stand apart. However, there are a few common look-alikes, some of which are highly poisonous, that can be mistaken for Cantharellus lateritius. Usually, it is the nature of the spores that confirms the identification of a species. Suffice to say that people do not usually study the spores under the microscope before consuming any wild mushroom. The risk of eating a poisonous mushroom instead of the inoffensive Cantharellus lateritius is thus real.
The most common look-alike is the poisonous Omphalotus olearius. The North American species Omphalotus illudens is also a very well-known look-alike of Cantharellus lateritius. This particular species is colloquially known as the jack-o’-lantern mushroom. This species also has bright yellow caps and a fruity smell similar to the chanterelles. They grow on buried roots and have bioluminescent properties. Omphalotus mushrooms contain illudin S which is a toxin. When ingested, the toxin causes stomach burns, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches⁴. Illudin S, however, is not necessarily lethal to humans. People can recover after consuming this mushroom and experiencing the effects of the toxin.
Another mushroom that is similar in appearance to Cantharellus lateritius is the wood hedgehog, scientifically known as Hydnum repandum. It also goes by the name of ‘sweet tooth’. This particular species has dry, yellow to brown caps with spines on the underside (toothed underside). This mushroom thrives in coniferous or deciduous woodland⁵. Mature specimens resemble the chanterelles but differ considerably in taste. Hydnum repandum has a sweet, nutty taste and crunchiness which is well sought-after.
Moreover, Cantharellus lateritius has a look-alike from its family of Cantharellaceae. Cantharellus cibarius, also known as golden chanterelle is a bright yellow mushroom that grows in Europe, mainly in coniferous forests⁶. This species is also fit for consumption as it is not poisonous. The golden chanterelle’s taste appeals to many, so much so that it is very popular among Europeans.
Cantharellus Lateritius Benefits
While Cantharellus lateritius is edible and not poisonous, it severely lacks in taste according to some. However, like any other mushroom, it has tremendous health benefits. Mushrooms have been extensively used in traditional Chinese medicine since time immemorial. They have also been incorporated into several culinary dishes throughout the world. In general, mushrooms have a high nutritional value. They are low in fat but high in protein, carbohydrate, and dietary fiber. Mushrooms are also rich in essential minerals, vitamins, and trace elements. This includes micro minerals such as potassium and copper. Potassium greatly helps to reduce high blood pressure as it counters the effects of sodium salts in the body. Mushrooms also contain high levels of vitamins in the likes of niacin, riboflavin, and B9 that are essential for good health.
Furthermore, biologically active compounds found in mushrooms have proven to have antitumor antioxidant, antiviral, hypocholesterolemic, and hypoglycemic effects7. Their range of effects in the pharmacological industry is unprecedented. This paves the path to finding new types of medicines and cures. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory properties of mushrooms help to boost the immune system. Antioxidants found in the mushrooms reduce metabolic disorders and hypertension. They are also great sources of thiamin, phosphorus, and magnesium. All of which are essential elements that need to be present in our diet.
Besides having numerous health benefits, Cantharellus lateritius, like other mushrooms, holds immense potential for agriculture and forestry. Wild mushrooms attached to tree roots increase the surface area of the roots. This allows the plant to absorb more water and nutrients from the soil; a feat that benefits both the plant and the mushroom.
Additionally, the ability of mushrooms to transform vegetation waste and wood into valuable resources is the key to sustainable agriculture. As the mushrooms feed on dead organic matter, they release essential nutrients into the soil. In turn, these nutrients fertilize the soil and help other plants grow. Cultivating mushrooms near plantations is a natural solution that can potentially increase the yield of crops. More so, mushrooms, like C. lateritius, can improve crops’ tolerance to drought as the presence of fungi improves the soil structure. This increases water retention in the soil.
Cantharellus lateritius Dosage
There is no dosage. Although Cantharellus lateritius has a panoply of health benefits, it does not have medicinal purposes in its raw form.
Cantharellus lateritius Toxicity, Safety & Side Effects
Often, people have a hard time differentiating between poisonous and non-poisonous wild mushrooms. While consuming C. lateritius is completely safe for people, some people are susceptible to side effects and other allergic reactions. Beta-glucans found in most mushrooms stimulate the immune system8. This is how mushrooms act as immune boosters. However, people suffering from autoimmune illnesses such as asthma, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis can have severe reactions to the mushroom. Hence, they should avoid consuming it.
That being said, Cantharellus lateritius still does not have any adverse effects on the body. Most people, including pregnant women, can safely eat the mushroom. For this particular species of mushroom, no side effects have ever been reported. In other words, there is zero toxicity for this specific kind of mushroom.
- Kuo, M. (2019). Glossary.
- Vorderbruggen, M. (2008, August 27). Chanterelle Mushrooms. Foraging Texas.
- Mui, D., Feibelman, T., & Bennett, J. W. (1998). A preliminary study of the carotenoids of some North American species of Cantharellus. International journal of plant sciences, 159(2), 244-248.
- Iowa State University. (2005, November 9). Horticulture and Home Pest News. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
- Kuo, M. (2020, September). Hydnum repandum.
- Kuo, M. (2015, March). Cantharellus cibarius.
- Cheung, P. C.K. (2010, November 19). The nutritional and health benefits of mushrooms. Nutrition Bulletin, 35(4), 292-299.
- Akramiene, D. (2007). Effects of the beta-glucans on the immune system. National Center for Biotechnology Information.