Bryant wrote today’s entry:
Commonly known as oak chanterelle, this is among the most popular of wild edible mushrooms. In 2008, this species was taxonomically split from Cantharellus cibarius, which used to be applied to all golden chanterelles. However, several species have since been split off from Cantharellus cibarius, mainly due to their varying ectomychorrhizal associations and geographic separation. For more information on the taxonomic history of Cantharellus species, read Brian Perry’s excellent “An Old Friend Gets a New Name” article on Mykoweb.
Cantharellus californicus is mainly found in association with Quercus agrifolia (coast live oak); however it has been observed growing in association with several other Californian oak species (and possibly also Arbutus menziesii and Arctostaphylos spp. (manzanitas)). One intriguing characteristic associated with Cantharellus californicus is its ability to reach enormous sizes (for a chanterelle), up to 1 kilogram (2.2 lb)! They can reach these sizes due to a number of factors, mainly a combination of indeterminate growth and mild California winters which can see long periods without frost.
This species can be found from November to April, depending mainly on seasonal precipitation and temperatures. As with many wild edible fungi, there are a number of toxic look-alikes for Cantharellus californicus and you should not consume your findings without confirming the identification with an expert.
For a detailed account of Cantharellus californicus, including its economic potential see: Arora, D. and S. Dunham. 2008. A New, Commercially Valuable Chanterelle Species, Cantharellus californicus sp. nov., Associated with Live Oak in California, USA (PDF). Economic Botany. 62(3): 376-391.