I’m going to miss Winter and the Craterellus season even though it was really not that wet overall this year.
This was a moderately good season for black trumpets intermittently from December through February. Which was great since the last couple of years here were not. They are still around today, heading towards the latter part of March, but nothing I’ve seen has been worth picking.
The best advice I ever got for finding these was to look for the holes (in the center of the trumpet) rather than for the mushrooms.
Sometimes mossy banks are good spots to find a few but the most productive areas are those that catch a good accumulation of leaf litter like old logging roads, skid trails or animal trails. Not much eats or bothers black-trumpets so they can get surprisingly large if the weather is perfectly cooperative.
Black-trumpets do not have very much flesh but they do have an intensely chanterelle-like taste. It intensifies when they are dried; a lot of us like to dry and finely shred them for use as a garnish or flavoring.
Many people commonly call these black chanterelles but this is also potentially confusing as there actually is a black chanterelle and this is not it. That one, which is also a Craterellus species, looks similar to a black trumpet but does not have an open trumpet-like tube and possesses some degree of what are very clearly chanterelle-style gills on the ouside – black trumpets are much smoother and lack those gill structures entirely.
This is very commonly listed as Craterellus cornucopioides or Craterellus fallax but genetics work suggests that Craterellus cornucopioides may not actually occur inside of the USA and that the distribution of Craterellus fallax is limited to the eastern part of the country.
What is present here on the Left Coast is currently being suggested to be one or more undescribed species of Craterellus. (see comments at http://www.mushroomexpert.com/craterellus_fallax.html) They do have a whitish to creamy colored spore print.
The following, on the other hand, is a black chanterelle (Craterellus cinereus) that was photographed here several years ago (these are rather rare here compared to the abundant black trumpets but they have typically been sympatric in their occurrence):
They taste very similar to black-trumpets but are (imho) much better and are more intense in their flavor as well as in the production of that awesome lingering sensation that chanterelles leave inside of my mouth. They also have a bit more substance to their flesh. This is my favorite chanterelle species and it is one of my all-time favorite mushrooms period but I’ve only found enough at once to make a large meal a single time (and smaller harvests only a few times). That was by far my most memorable mushroom meal to-date.
Another mushroom species that sometimes has black chanterelle (more often, blue chanterelle) applied to it as a common name is Polyozellus multiplex.
Common names are just the names used commonly by people. There is really no true right or wrong about variable choices of use. What matters is that it is correctly understood by the listener as to what is being discussed.
To keep it interesting, some of the black-trumpets here do develop a bit of texture on their undersides.
Another odd black trumpet occurs here that can branch densely when the weather is right. If the weather stays cooperative each one of those ‘ears’ can develop a trumpet producing a rather bushy end result but we’ve only seen that occur a couple of times.