Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Gomphus Sp.

Family: Gomphaceae [E-flora]

"The traditional distinction between Gomphus and the chanterelles is that the former have large, coarse scales on the cap surface--or have stems that are fused together, sharing two or more caps. Under the microscope, species of Gomphus have roughened spores, while the spores of Cantharellus and Craterellus species are smooth."[]

"Despite the fact that the mushrooms vaguely resemble chanterelles, recent DNA studies have consistently placed Gomphus with stinkhorns, clubs and corals, and earth stars, far from the chanterelles.[1]" []

"Gomphus is an odd genus of funky-looking mushrooms that are vaguely reminiscent of chanterelles and were, until recently, treated alongside them in the Cantharellaceae family. The mushrooms are generally sturdy, fleshy, and vase-shaped, with wrinkled outer surfaces. They are more common in northern and montane forests, and most species are mycorrhizal partners with trees. Preliminary research (Giachini, 2004; link below) has indicated a potential relationship between the appearance of Gomphus fruiting bodies and the volume of woody debris present." []

"Very recent research by Admir Giachini (2004; link below) has combined DNA study with traditional morphology-based methods, with several important findings. First, DNA suggests that the genus Gomphus should be limited to three species centered around Gomphus clavatus (which is the only one of the three occurring in North America). Second, the species centered around "Gomphus floccosus" should probably be treated in a separate genus; Giachini proposes an older genus name, Turbinellus. Third, many of the floccosus-like "species" are so genetically similar that they probably do not deserve separate species status (see the key below). Fourth, the floccosus-like and clavatus-like groups are distant enough, genetically, that several species of Ramaria (see Clubs and Corals) are grouped between them, indicating a clear separation. Last (for our purposes here, anyway), some species currently treated in Gomphus are even more distantly related, and belong in the little-known genus Gloeocantharellus (see the key below)." []

"Delta 15N and d13C values measured in plant and fungal material are essentially the average of all the N and C contained within the tissue. However, different chemical components within plants and fungi may differ considerably in both d15N and d13C.... The very high d15N value of the remaining species, C.[Clavariadelphus] pistillaris, is highly indicative of an ECM species and the taxonomic placing of the genus near Gomphus and Ramaria, known ECM formers, would support this idea." [FIE Cambridge]

Local Species

"Gomphus floccosus and G. kauffmanii both have blunt fold-like gills like chanterelles; however, both are generally more vase-like and have coarse scales on the cap" [Trudell MPNW]


"Gomphus sp. Fruit body, stewed, fried (TC)." [Geng et al.,2016] "Although [G. floccosus, G. kauffmanii, and G. bonarii] are quite meaty and eaten by some, they have been known to cause digestive upsets and are not recommended edibles." Pilz&Norvell


  1. Geng et al.,2016 - Traditional knowledge and its transmission of wild edibles used by the Naxi in Baidi Village, northwest Yunnan province, Geng et al. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (2016) 12:10 DOI 10.1186/s13002-016-0082-2
  2. [] Kuo, M. (2006, February). The genus Gomphus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:
  3. Pilz&Norvell - Ecology and Management of Commercially Harvested Chanterelle Mushrooms David Pilz, Lorelei Norvell, Eric Danell, and Randy Molina

Gomphus bonarii - Bonar's Gomphus 

"Summary: not a true gilled species but has narrow blunt radial folds on undersurface of cap; features include vase shape, moderately depressed orange to brown cap with blunt partially erect scales, white spore-bearing surface (with narrow blunt radial folds) that narrows downward and stains pinkish brown, and elongate spores; this may become a synonym of Gomphus floccosus as Turbinellus floccosus (Schwein.) Earle, Trudell(4) say that Gomphus bonarii has been said to differ from G. floccosus "by being smaller, having block-like yellow-orange scales with red tips, and a tendency to grow in clusters. However, in practice, it is very difficult to distinguish two species, and many mycologists do not recognize G. bonarii [name italicized] as a separate species."; found at least BC, WA, ID, AZ, CA, CO, NM, Mexico, (Petersen), also OR (Castellano)" [E-flora]

"Similar Species like G. floccosus but G. bonarii has duller paler or more cinnamon-colored cap with large tufted blunt scales that becomes only moderately depressed, milky white undersurface extending only halfway down stem, a tendency to grow in clusters, and smaller less warty spores; G. kauffmanii has no orange color and spores are larger" [E-flora]

"Habitat / Range scattered or in groups or clusters on the ground, often in deep humus under conifers, May to October, (Bessette), closely gregarious to cespitose [in tufts], partly hidden in deep humus under pine and fir, (Smith), spring, summer, fall" [E-flora]

"Edibility not recommended: some cases of gastric upset (Bessette)" [E-flora]

Synonyms: Cantharellus bonarii Morse [E-flora]


  1. [E-flora] Gomphus bonarii,, Accessed April 7, 2020

Gomphus clavatus - pig's ears 

"Summary: Also listed in Veined category. Gomphus clavatus is distinguished by its shape like a chopped-off lopsided club that is flattened and uplifted more on one side, often overlapping with other fruiting bodies, dull purplish veined cap undersurface, growth in fused clusters, and elongate spores. The common name "pig's ears" is also used for the ascomycete Gyromitra ancilis (=Discina perlata). G. clavatus is found at least in BC, WA, OR, ID, MB, NB, NS, ON, QC, CA, MA, MI, NH, NC, NY, TN, TX, Mexico, (Petersen), Europe, Pakistan, India, and Japan, (Pilz(1))." [E-flora]

"The pig’s ear gomphus lacks the hairy to scaly caps with deeply depressed to hollow centers characteristic of the three scaly vase Gomphus species found in North America (all of which also lack purplish folds and clamp connections). The common woolly or scaly vase chanterelle (G. floccosus) (plate 9) has a heavily to moderately scaly, bright to rusty orange cap. The less common Kauffman’s gomphus (G. kauffmanii) and Bonar’s gomphus (G. bonarii) are also characterized by having large, coarse to woolly scales. Kauffman’s gomphus produces mushrooms with pale yellow brown to buff-colored caps (no red or orange tones present) and ochre- to cinnamon-colored spore “folds,” whereas Bonar’s gomphus grows in dense clusters, has orange buff, salmon, or foxy orange caps, dingy cream to tan shallow folds, and produces smaller basidiospores." Pilz&Norvell

Habitat/Range: "The pig’s ear gomphus is ectomycorrhizal with conifers" Pilz&Norvell "scattered to gregarious often in fused pairs or clusters, under conifers, (Arora), closely gregarious to cespitose [in tufts], partially hidden in deep humus under conifers, (Castellano), occasionally gregarious but usually cespitose or in compound clusters that may even occur in arcs or fairy rings, typically on humus though often near very decayed logs, most abundant under conifers, (Smith), late summer and fall (Miller)" [E-flora]


Abstract; "The fruiting bodies of the edible mushroom Gomphus clavatus (Family Gomphaceae) were collected from the wild and extracted with solvents of increasing polarity. Crude extracts were evaluated for their total phenolic content, their antioxidant capacity, and their cytotoxic activity against MCF-7 and PC-3 cancer cell lines. Concerning total phenolics and antioxidant activity, the methanol extract showed the most potent radical scavenging activity with inhibition of 45.5% of 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl at 3 mg/mL. Further chemical investigation of the methanol extract led to the isolation and identification of nine compounds, among them four ergosterol derivatives. Concerning cytotoxicity, the dichloromethane (DCM) extract showed the most interesting activity, with half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of 55.3 and 49.0 μg/mL in the MCF-7 and PC-3 cell lines, respectively. Further investigation of the DCM extract lead to the identification of methyl esters of fatty acids and the isolation of four fatty acids and three ergosterol derivatives. Ergosterol peroxide (compound 6) was one of the most active constituents, with IC50 values of 35.8 μM and 30.6 μM for MCF-7 and PC-3 cells, respectively, suggesting that the cytotoxic activity of the crude extract could be at least partly attributed to the presence of ergostan derivatives. Those findings suggest that G. clavatus can be considered as a medicinal food with antioxidant and chemopreventive activities." [Makropoulou et al.2012]

"Cd contents of G. clavatus (0.071 mg/day) were also above the legal limits." G. clavatus showed high antioxidant activity [Makropoulou et al.2012]

"Subsequently the fractionation and investigation of Gomphus clavatus MeOH extract lead to the isolation of: ergosterol, 5,8-hyperoxide of ergosterol, serevisterol, 3,5,6-trihydroxyergostan-7,9(11)22-triene, 3,5,6-trihydroxyergostan-7,22-diene, 3β,5α,9α-trihydroxy-(22E)-ergostan-7,22dien-6-one, nicotinic acid and indole-3-carboxylic acid.... The ergosterol derinatives were evaluated for their antioxidant activity and their estrogenic activity in MCF-7 (Breast cancer) and PC-3 (Prostate cancer) cell lines. Concerning estrogenic activity, the samples derived from saponification of DCM extract of Gomphus clavatus, rich in ergosterol derinatives and the pure compound of the peroxide of ergosterol, were the most active samples with IC50 15.1 and 15.3µg/ml in MCF-7 and 13.6 and 13.1µg/ml in PC-3 cell lines, respectively." [Planta Medica 73.09]

Abstract: "Ethanolic fraction from edible mushroom, Gomphus floccosus was tested for total phenol, flavonoid, β-carotene, lycopene and ascorbic acid. High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) was performed to identify the phenols and flavones in the fraction. In vitro antioxidant activity in terms of DPPH radical scavenging chelating effect of ferrous iron, reducing power and total antioxidant capacity assay were also tested. Findings showed that EC50 values were below 1 mg /ml except DPPH radical scavenging and reducing power test. Estimated putative antioxidant components were in order of phenol>flavonoids>ascorbic acid>lycopene>β-carotene. The presence of six phenolic acids like gallic acid, caffeic acid and ferulic acid was also detected. Result implies that G. floccosus can be a potential source of natural antioxidants which may be used as food supplement to treat various oxidative stress related diseases." [Dasgupta,Adhiraj,et al.]

Synonyms: Cantharellus clavatus Fr. [E-flora]


  1. [Dasgupta,Adhiraj,et al.] Dasgupta, Adhiraj, et al. "Mycochemicals, phenolic profile and antioxidative activity of a wild edible mushroom from Eastern Himalaya." Journal of Biologically Active Products from Nature 5.6 (2015): 373-382.
  2. [E-flora] Gomphus clavatus,, Accessed April 8, 2020
  3. Garibay-Orijel et al.,2007 - Understanding cultural significance, the edible mushrooms case, Roberto Garibay-Orijel, Javier Caballero, Arturo Estrada-Torres and Joaquín Cifuentes, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2007, 3:4 doi:10.1186/1746-4269-3-4
  4. Garibay-Orijel et al.,2012 - Women care about local knowledge, experiences from ethnomycology, Garibay-Orijel et al. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2012, 8:25
  5. Kang et al.,2016 - Wild food plants and fungi used in the mycophilous Tibetan community of Zhagana (Tewo County, Gansu, China), Kang et al. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (2016) 12:21
  6. [Makropoulou et al.2012] "Antioxidant and cytotoxic activity of the wild edible mushroom Gomphus clavatus.", Maria Makropoulou, Nektarios Aligiannis, Zacharoula Gonou-Zagou, Harris Pratsinis, Alexios-Leandros Skaltsounis, and Nikolas Fokialakis.Journal of Medicinal Food.Feb 2012.216-221.
  7. Pilz&Norvell - Ecology and Management of Commercially Harvested Chanterelle Mushrooms David Pilz, Lorelei Norvell, Eric Danell, and Randy Molina
  8. [Planta Medica 73.09] Bioactive Constituents of the edible wild mushrooms Gomphus clavatus and Lactarius salmonicolor." Planta Medica 73.09 (2007): P_303.

Gomphus floccosus - Scaly vase chanterelle 

"Not truly wooly, Gomphus floccosus is more accurately characterized by the coarse scales that usually line its deeply vaseshaped cap; however, it is a highly variable fungus, and the degree of scaliness is by no means constant. In its common form, the cap when fresh is a deep reddish orange but fades with age, and old pale specimens can be found that might seem to be a different fungus.... Gomphus bonarii has been said to differ by being smaller, having block-like yellow-orange scales with red tips, and a tendency to grow in clusters. However, in practice, it is very difficult to distinguish two species, and many mycologists do not recognize G. bonarii as a separate species." [Trudell MPNW]

"Summary: Also listed in Veined category. This is not a true gilled species - it has radiating low blunt ridges on the undersurface of the cap. Features include vase shape, reddish to orange-buff scaly cap, pallid veined exterior and elongate spores. There is molecular evidence that Gomphus floccosus should be separated from Gomphus clavatus, in which case the name will become Turbinellus floccosus (Schwein.) Earle. G. floccosus is found at least BC, WA, OR, ID, NB, NS, ON, QC, AL, CA, CT, GA, MA, ME, MI, NH, NJ, NC, NY, PA, TN, VT, WV, and Mexico, (Petersen)." [E-flora]

"Habitat / Range under conifers or in mixed woods, (Lincoff), single, gregarious, or subcespitose (often at higher elevations with 2 or 3 arising from a single stem), under conifers in late summer and fall, (Smith)" [E-flora]

"taste mild to sour." [MushDemyst]

"Spore print: Dull rusty color." [FGWMP] "ocher (Lincoff, Miller), dull ocher (Phillips), ochraceous (Smith)" [E-flora]

"Copycats: Hard to confuse with anything else.... Gomphus clavatus (see below) often shows violet colors when young." [FGWMP] "Gomphus kauffmanii is larger and brown (no orange tones) with coarser scales. Gomphus bonarii has a duller, paler, or more cinnamon-colored cap, (Phillips says usually more reddish), milky white to creamy white fresh exterior, spore-bearing surface only half-way down stem, tendency to grow in clumps, and smaller less warty spores. Trudell(4) say that Gomphus bonarii "has been said to differ by being smaller, having block-like yellow-orange scales with red tips, and a tendency to grow in clusters. However, in practice, it is very difficult to distinguish two species, and many mycologists do not recognize G. bonarii [name italicized] as a separate species." [E-flora]


"Consumption of this species is not recommended owing to the presence of norcaperatic acid which is indicated in the development of gastrointestinal disorders with delayed onset of typical symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The consumption of this poisonous mushroom by the ethnic population without any apparent harm may be hypothesized to reduced toxicity of the specific local strain available in the region, indigenous cooking practices and methodology or even to genetic resistance to the mushroom toxin among the local population" [Khaund, P. et al.(2014)]

Abstract; "Pistillarin salt was isolated from the methanolic extract of Basidiomycete Gomphus floccosus. Its chemical structure was determined by various spectroscopic analyses. Pistillarin exhibited a significantly protective effect against DNA damage by hydroxyl radicals generated from the Fenton reaction via iron chelation as well as free radical-scavenging activity." "pistillarin is an antioxidant as well as an iron chelator, and could have potential as a therapeutic agent that reduces oxidative damage" [Lee, I.-K. (2011)]

Synonyms: Cantharellus floccosus Schwein. [E-flora]


  1. [E-flora] Gomphus floccosus,, Accessed April 8, 2020
  2. Garibay-Orijel et al.,2012 - Women care about local knowledge, experiences from ethnomycology, Garibay-Orijel et al. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2012, 8:25
  3. [Khaund, P. et al.(2014)] Khaund, P., & Joshi, S. R. (2014). The Gomphus Paradox of Meghalaya: Wild Edible Fungus or a Poisonous Mushroom? Microbial Diversity and Biotechnology in Food Security, 171–176. doi:10.1007/978-81-322-1801-2_13
  4. [Lee, I.-K. (2011)] Lee, I.-K. (2011). Pistillarin Salt, a Dicatecholspermidine Family Member from Gomphus floccosus, Inhibits DNA Single Strand Breakage by the Fenton Reaction. Journal of the Korean Society for Applied Biological Chemistry, 54(2). doi:10.3839/jksabc.2011.050
  5. Rubel&Arora - A Study of Cultural Bias in Field Guide Determinations of Mushroom Edibility Using the Iconic Mushroom, Amanita muscaria, as an Example, William Rubel & David Arora, Economic Botany, 62(3), 2008, pp. 223–243

Gomphus kauffmanii - Kauffman's Gomphus

"Gomphus kauffmanii is similar to G. floccosus, but in its typical form usually can be recognized by the lack of orange hues in the cap, more abundant and coarser scales, often larger size, and more substantial stocky appearance. It is not prone to growing in clusters. In the PNW, it seems to be found most commonly in old-growth conifer forests, but it also occurs in other conifer forests here and throughout most of western North America. It is encountered less often than G. floccosus. The edibility of G. kauffmanii is questionable, so we recommend it be avoided. It is very closely related to G. floccosus and so may also be transferred to the genus Turbinellus." [Trudell MPNW]

"Summary: features include vase shape, deeply depressed whitish to cinnamon dry cap with large brown erect or recurved scales, creamy white to pale brown exterior staining pinkish purple where bruised, with radiating blunt vein-like ridges, elongate spores, and absence of clamp connections; there is molecular evidence that Gomphus floccosus and Gomphus kauffmanii should be separated from Gomphus clavatus, in which case Gomphus kauffmanii should be renamed Turbinellus kauffmanii; found at least BC, WA, OR, ID, CA, CT, NC, TN, (Petersen)" [E-flora]

"Habitat / Range: single, scattered or in groups under conifers, especially hemlock, July to September, (Bessette for eastern North America), closely gregarious to cespitose [in tufts], partially hidden in deep humus under Pinus and Abies spp., (Castellano), summer, fall" [E-flora]


Synonyms: Cantharellus kauffmanii A.H. Sm. [E-flora]


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