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Collecting and recognizing chanterelles needs to be learned. Malicious doppelgangers punish a mistake with nasty stomach problems. These 5 rules with a picture ensure safety and carefree enjoyment of mushrooms. This is how you determine an original chanterelle with expertise.

Three common species in Germany

The genus of chanterelles (Cantharellus) inhabits the deciduous and mixed forests of Europe with 14 species and varieties. Of these, the following 3 species are often found in German forests and are very popular with mushroom pickers as delicious edible mushrooms:

Real Chanterelle, Source: Andreas Kunze, 2007-07-14 Cantharellus cibarius, Edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Chanterelle, Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)
  • Velvety Chanterelle, Velvet Chanterelle (Cantharellus friesii)
  • Amethyst chanterelle, purple-scaled chanterelle (Cantharellus amethysteus)

To call these three chanterelles profanely edible does not do justice to the unique aroma. Their high esteem as a delicacy results not least from the fact that they are authentic natural treasures that persistently refuse to be cultivated commercially. The chanterelle season window is only open for a few months of the year, from summer to early fall.

Recognizing chanterelles: 5 rules

So that you don't miss any of these premium mushrooms when collecting them, the following five basic rules explicitly draw your attention to subtle differences between the tasty protagonists.


The most distinctive feature of a chanterelle is its hat. Size, shape and color act as reliable clues for saddle-proof identification. The focus is on the following attributes:

Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

Chanterelle, Source: Mars 2002, Cantharellus-cibarius-0303, Edited from Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Hat diameter: 2-8 cm (rarely up to 15 cm)
  • Colour: yolk yellow to lemon yellowHat diameter: 1-5 cm

Velvety chanterelle (Cantharellus friesii)

Source: Jerzy Opioła, Cantharellus friesii BW53 (1), Edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Colour: orange to orange-yellow
  • Special features: velvety surface, orange-pink to yellowish underside of cap, later fading

Amethyst Chanterelle (Cantharellus amethysteus)

  • Hat diameter: 2-8 cm (rarely up to 20 cm)
  • Colour: yellow with violet scales
  • Special feature: violet splashes of color on the edge of the hat
Amethyst Chanterelle (Cantharellus amethysteus), Source: Danny Steven, Waldpilz006, Edited from Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 2.0

In terms of shape, there are no differences between the three types of chanterelles. At the beginning, the hat has a hemispherical to curved shape, which gradually turns inside out to a funnel-like appearance. A characteristic feature is an irregularly wavy hat edge, which sometimes curls up slightly in older specimens.

stem and ledges

Chanterelles wear their memorable hat atop a fleshy, hat-colored stalk. This aspect does not make a decisive difference to numerous other types of mushrooms. On the other hand, if you take a look under the hat, you will see a key identifying feature in the form of strips. All chanterelles thrive with ridges that run far down. These are firmly attached to the pulp.

Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

Source: Heisenberg-pl, Cantharellus cibarius 20090717-02, Edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Handle height: 3-6 cm (rarely up to 8 cm)
  • Ribs: hat-colored, narrow, forked and joined together, gradually tapering off at the end of the stem

Velvety chanterelle (Cantharellus friesii)

Source: Vavrin, Cantharellus friesii I Posazavi CZ, Edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Handle height: 2-4 cm (rarely up to 8 cm)
  • Groins: whitish to light yellow, thick, forked with transverse connections, wrinkled

Amethyst Chanterelle (Cantharellus amethysteus)

Source: 2008-08-12_Cantharellus_amethysteus_19170.jpg.webp: This image was created by user Gerhard Koller (Gerhard) at Mushroom Observer, a source for mycological images. You can contact this user here. Edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Handle height: 1-3 cm (rarely up to 5 cm)
  • Groin: yellowish, forked several times, decurrent

Mycology differentiates between strips and lamellae. In this context, all chanterelles are categorized as a mushroom mushroom. For beginners, the difference between strips and slats is not always recognizable. In this case, a simple trick brings light into the darkness. Run your finger over the region in question under the hat. In contrast to ridges that are firmly attached, lamellae can be moved or detached from the pulp with light finger pressure.

Tip: Knowledgeable mushroom pickers will leave a young chanterelle just peeking out of the forest floor. Collecting tiny young mushrooms is not only unproductive and frowned upon as greed. Furthermore, this "baby murder" harbors the great danger of confusing the young mushroom with a poisonous doppelganger.


To apply the third rule, please use a sharp knife. Cut the mushroom lengthways. Chanterelles can be recognized by their firm, pale yellow flesh. In the case of fully grown mushrooms, the crisp flesh is characterized by a yellowish edge.


Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

Every original chanterelle is a feast for the senses. If you have discovered a golden-yellow treasure in the forest, you are welcome to sniff it. Take in a fruity-fresh scent with a light apricot note, hold a real chanterelle in your hands. A pleasant scent of plums reveals the velvet chanterelle. Connoisseurs of the matter swear that a violet-scaled chanterelle smells a little spicier than its conspecifics.


The fifth rule of reliable chanterelle identification requires tasting. A real chanterelle should live up to its name with a hot and spicy taste of pepper. Gourmets attest that velvet chanterelle and amethyst chanterelle have a somewhat milder aroma.

Notice: Please note that these rules for identifying chanterelles are primarily intended as a guide. By submitting your mushroom harvest to a certified expert for assessment, you are on the safe side. You will find what you are looking for at the German Society for Mycology e.V. On the homepage you can find the contact details of a mushroom expert using a search function by postal code.

Wicked doubles

In deciduous and mixed forests there are two fungi that are literally “not worth a damn”. Mistaking these two doubles for real chanterelles is punishable by nagging gastrointestinal problems and even serious organ damage. To save you from making a mistake, here are the five rules for recognizing chanterelles from the point of view of their treacherous counterparts:

False chanterelle, fork leaf (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) - poisonous

Source: H. Krisp, False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, Edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 3.0
  • Cap: 2-12 cm in diameter, bright orange
  • Stem and strips: 3-7 cm high, 3-8 cm wide with detachable slats
  • Flesh: whitish, tough, pliable to soft
  • Odour: neutral or herbaceous to acidic
  • Taste: cottony-mild to slightly bitter

A small taste means no danger for healthy adults. Only in large quantities does the consumption of false chanterelles cause nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting.

Olive fungus (Omphalotus olearius) - poisonous

  • Cap: 3-11 cm, strong orange to rusty brown, thin fleshed,
  • Stem and ridges: 5-15 cm, golden yellow detachable lamellae that glow in the dark
  • Flesh: yellowish to orange, tough, fibrous
  • Odour: unpleasant, like rotten coniferous wood
  • Flavor (optional): repulsive-mild
Source: Ajeep8u, Jack O'Lantern Mushroom (Omphalotus olearius), 2009-104, Edited from Plantopedia, CC0 1.0

A taste is strongly discouraged. In order not to confuse the poisonous double with real chanterelles, the test should be limited to visual characteristics and smell. Dark olive tree mushrooms are very poisonous. Even the consumption of small amounts triggers significant symptoms of poisoning up to and including liver damage.

Have you used these clues to track down an inedible chanterelle look-alike? Then please don't destroy the mushroom imposter. All mushrooms make an invaluable contribution to the ecological balance of nature. Toadstools that people find hard to stomach are often a valuable source of food for wild animals.

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