A New California State Mushroom Just Dropped

A New California State Mushroom Just Dropped

In late 2023 California got a new state mushroom. Cantharellus californicus, also called the mud puppy or oak chanterelle. This native fungus, found in California and the northern Baja Peninsula, belongs to the Cantharellus genus alongside other sought-after edible chanterelles. It is generally similar in appearance to C. cibarius and C. formosus except for its large size at maturity. Kevin Sadlier, owner of Green Jeans Garden Supply and president and co-founder of the Mycological Society of Marin, was among the mycologists who took scientists out to search for the new state mushroom.

Feature Photo: Cantharellus californicus courtesy of  Boleslaw Kuznik (Bolek) at Mushroom Observer
Cantharellus_californicus_1200_PC_Alan Rockefeller at Mushroom Observer
Photo: Cantharellus californicus courtesy of Alan Rockefeller at Mushroom Observer

However, Sadlier’s reaction to the selection might surprise some. Despite its recognition, he finds Cantharellus californicus too commonplace. The diversity of chanterelle species, including four distinct types in Marin alone, underscores Sadlier’s sentiment. Formerly grouped together, these species have since been distinguished. While Cantharellus californicus stands out as the largest among them, it falls short in terms of culinary appeal.

Omphalotus_olivascens_1200_Western_Jack_O'Lantern_Mushroom_pc_daniel neal
Photo: Omphalotus olivascens courtesy of Daniel Neal

Sadlier’s choice was the runner up, Omphalotus olivascens, also known as the western jack-o’-lantern mushroom. “It’s endemic, but poisonous,” says Sadlier. “It also glows in the dark.” His other option would have been the culinary darling of mushrooms, Lactarius rubidus, best known as the candy cap. With their sweet, maple syrup-like taste, these little guys are used in everything from cakes to ice cream — and are currently going for a whopping $277 a pound.

Lactarius_rubidus_1200_Nathan Wilson at Mushroom Observer
Photo: Lactarius rubidus courtesy of Nathan Wilson at Mushroom Observer

The current mushroom season, according to Sadlier, has been notably fruitful, potentially attributed to the expansion of mycelial mats following rainfall. So are you ready to get out there and nab some shrooms of your own? MycoMarin will be holding its last group foray of the season on April 13 — get in touch by April 1 for your chance to join!

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Meet our always-hungry team of foodies who compiled this list.
Please let us know if we’ve missed your favorite eat@localgetaways.com.

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