Yellowfoot Chanterelle: Drops of Sunshine on the Forest Floor

What are the benefits of Yellowfoot Chanterelle?

The benefits of Yellofoot Chanterelle (Craterellus tubaeformis) are:

  • a source of abundant delicious food as they tend to fruit copiously in the right conditions
  • rich in ergocalciferol, also known as vitamin D2
  • a source of carotenoids that can be preserved and eaten throughout the year
  • attractants for biting insects, and therefore a potential sustainable and non-toxic ‘bait’ for pest-control

Yellowfoot Chanterelle’s do not have gills or pores, but instead have what are termed psuedo-gills. This is what gives their stems their distinctive look. They are found growing individually or in clusters, almost always in association with trees that they have established a mutual relationship with. These trees include, but are not limited to, spruce, hemlock, oak, and beech. When foraging for C. tubaeformis, look for these trees and significant patches of moss near their root base. Yellowfoots prefer the company of mosses due to their own scale and the water that moss tends to capture and pull from the atmosphere (Volk, 2008). Craterellus tubaeformis, as it is assumed most chanterelles, do have the ability to evolve and establish relationships with the root systems of other trees when they’re preferred habitat isn’t present. This is, however, a rare occurrence.

Yellowfoot are very close cousins to true chanterelles; the latter belonging to the family Cantharellus. Yellowfoot; also known as Trattkanterell in Swedish, Yellowlegs, Trumpet Chanterelle (First Nature, 2020), Funnel Chanterelle (Healing Mushrooms, 2020), Tubies (Volk, 2008), or Winter Chanterelles; belong to the family Craterellus. They are sometimes called ‘craterelles’ to emphasize the distinction. This is an uncommon practice, however, as the general public cannot tell the difference readily between these closely related species.

Cantharellus cibarius
Craterellus tubaeformis

As one can see, the morphological differences between the two are slight; the most prominent being the hollow stipe of the Yellowlegs. In the lab, both possess carotenoid pigments and clamp connections (hook-like structure growing from hyphal cells that play a crucial role in sexual reproduction). DNA analyses also support the presupposition that Cantharellus and Craterellus are separate and independent species (Pilz et al, 6).

Winter craterelles, the yellowfoots, in addition to their pseudo-gills also have hollow stipes (the stalk of the mushroom) that sometimes can be seen by looking down on the cap. In the wild they can resemble the toxic Jack-O-Lantern (Omphalotus illudens) if the observer is not careful. Omphalotus have true gills, so learning the difference between those and the pseudo-gills of C. tubaeformis is a crucial skill (Midwest American Mycological Information). In the images below one can see the gills extending down the stipe of O. illudens and the stark difference of C. tubaeformis pseudo-gills.

Omphalotus olearius
Craterellus tubaeformis

Due to their strong relationship with host trees, Yellowfoot Chanterelles are notoriously difficult to cultivate. In the wild, trees typically have to be between ten (10) and forty (40) years old before the mushrooms will begin to bear fruit. In captivity, however, Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine) seedlings have been successfully inoculated from a pure culture and shown to produce fruiting bodies (Baer, 2005), which we will revisit towards the end of the article.

C. tubaeformis is not an overly popular culinary mushroom in the United States and in Poland, a very mycophilic country, does not consider them edible (Pilz et al, 14). Yet, Yellowleg Mushrooms are a source of national identity for those growing up in Sweden and Finland, and it is in those regions that the most laboratory research has been conducted on them. They have been found to be strong sources of ergocalciferol, otherwise known as vitamin D2. Human’s synthesize vitamin D3 when they expose their skins to sunlight, both D2 and D3 are essential for our absorption of calcium, strong immune systems, and protection against hypertension, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Yellowfoots are also heavy in ‘octenol,’ an unsaturated alcohol that is formed when linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) is broken down. Octenol (1-Octen-3-ol) is also known as mushroom alcohol because it is the primary agent that imparts the distinctive smell that we associate with mushrooms. Octenol is an attractant for biting insects like mosquitos. Humans exude octenol from their breath and sweat. A ketone analog of octenol (Oct-1-en-3-one) gives blood on skin a metallic, mushroom-y smell. Humans that are more prone to being bit by mosquitos exude a stronger amount of octenol through their breath and skin than others (Chen et al, 5233).

Yellowfoot Mushrooms take readily to being dried, pickled, or brined in salt. Their taste is milder than true chanterelles and impart mostly earthy tones to the palette (Healing Mushrooms). Their texture and color when baked is reminiscent of delicate, crispy bacon or proscuitio (Forager Chef, 2020). Tom Volk of the University of Wisconsin, Madison describes pickling ‘Tubies,’ or freezing them after parboiling for use in drier months when mushrooms of any kind are scarce (Volk, 2008). Another method of preserving these mushrooms and extending their essence is to store them in vodka – the resulting liquor is good for cocktails, sipping neat, or to use in cooking (Forager Chef, 2020).

Craterellus tubaeformis, as most mycorrhizal mushrooms, are stubborn when it comes to domestication. Winter Chanterelles, however, have been confirmed in the wild to grow among well-decayed coarse woody debris (CWD) where it can garner the same amount of carbohydrates required to fruit as it does from its mycorrhizal relationships (Pilz et al, 52). Specific research on the ecology of Trumpet Chanterelles in Oregon has revealed that the preferred trees for C. tubaeformis are western hemlock, douglas fir, and sitka spruce, with hemlock being the overwhelming favorite (Trappe, 42). As has previously been mentioned, when Yellowfoots encounter ample debris where the woody pieces are less than 3 inches in diameter, they will also fruit – typically in areas that also contain moss (Forager Chef, 2020).

Chanterelles have been successfully cultivated by Western mycologists in greenhouse conditions. In 1995 an article appeared in Nature that detailed the inoculation of Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) seedlings with Chanterelle cibarius; the result was two flushes of morphologically normal fruit bodies, primordium and hyphae (Dannell and Camacho, 1997). Similar techniques can be used cultivate Yellowfoot Chanterelles. Starting with a live culture of Craterellus tubaeformis and an all-in-one wood based grow bag is an excellent way to begin cultivation given C. tubaeformis’ predilection for decomposing wood when its preferred trees aren’t present. If you’d prefer to try and replicate the experimental method of inoculating Scots Pine seedlings, bare root seedlings can be had for only $6.99 at the Arbor Day Foundation’s website. The bare root and potted seedlings of hemlock are also available.

Mushroom Images

References

  1. Baer D (2005) Chanterelle Mushrooms. The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/mushroomschanterelles/
  2. Chen X, Huynh N, Cui H, Zhou P, Zhang X and Yang B (2018) Correlating supercritical fluid extraction parameters with volatile compounds from Finnish wild mushrooms (Craterellus tubaeformis) and yield prediction by partial least squares regression analysis. RSC Advances. pp 5233-5243.
  3. Dannell E and Camacho F J (1997) Successful cultivation of the golden chanterelle (385) p 303
  4. First Nature (2020) Cantharellus tubaeformis Fr. – Trumpet Chanterelle. Retrieved from https://www.first-nature.com/fungi/cantharellus-tubaeformis.php
  5. Forager Chef (2020) Yellowfoot Chanterelles. Retrieved from https://foragerchef.com/yellowfoot-chanterelles/
  6. Healing Mushrooms (2020) Craterellus tubaeiformis: The Yellow Foot Trumpet Chanterelle Mushroom. Retrieved from https://healing-mushrooms.net/Craterellus-tubaeformis
  7. Midwest American Mycological Information (2020) Cantharellus species. Retrieved from https://midwestmycology.org/cantharellus-species/
  8. Oregon State University (2009) Gourmet Mushrooms Moving to the Greenhouse? Retrieved from https://today.oregonstate.edu/archives/1997/jan/gourmet-mushrooms-moving-greenhouse
  9. Pilz D, Norvell L, Danell E, and Molina R (2003) Ecology and Management of Commercially Harvested Chanterelle Mushrooms. United States Department of Agriculture. pp 1-90.
  10. Trappe M J (2001) Ecology of Craterellus tubaeformis in Western Oregon. Oregon State University. pp 1-62.
  11. Volk T (2008) Craterellus tubaeformis — Tubies, in honor of mushroom forays and fairs in California. Retrieved from https://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/jan2008.html

Last modified: January 25, 2021

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