Craterellus fallax

Craterellus fallax Craterellus fallax Fairy ring of Craterellus fallax

Common name: Black Trumpet, Horn of Plenty, Trumpet of the Dead.

Description and identifying characteristics: Black trumpets are a tubular shaped when young, becoming trumpet or funnel shaped as they grow. The mushrooms range from ½ to 3 ½ inches (1 to 9 cm.) tall. The margin at first is curved downward; as the mushroom ages the margin spreads out becoming wavy to split. The hollow inner surface is dark brown to almost black. The fertile, gray to dark brown to blackish outer surface is dry and scaly. The flesh is thin and brittle. The odor and taste are fragrant and fruity. When the mushroom is fruiting plentifully, you can often smell the fruiting before you see it.

Craterellus fallax has a salmon colored (ocher buff to ocher orange) spore print whereas C. cornucopioides has a whitish spore print. The two species cannot otherwise be told apart, either macroscopically or by their culinary value (which is excellent!). Genetically, the two former species are now considered to be one species, even though they have different colored spore prints. The taxonomy is in a state of flux, with some using C. cornucopioides for both species, while others claiming that C. cornucopioides applies to the European version of the species, and that C. fallax is the U.S. version (only referencing the salmon-colored spore prints for the latter). 

Since in the U.S. we actually have two identical mushrooms, differing only by the color of their spore prints, and because the two species have not been officially condensed into one, the two name classification system will be used here with C. cornucopioides referring to the white spored form, and C. fallax referring to the salmon-colored spored form.

Ecology/associates host or habitat: Black trumpets are often found scattered or in groups under beech and oak trees. Occasionally they are found with other hardwoods. They are believed to be mycorrhizal, but may also exist as saprotophs.

Though this mushroom is widespread and common, there are experienced mushroom hunters who have never found one. They are difficult to spot on the forest floor because of their dark brown to black color. Some mushroom hunters believe they are obligatorily associated with moss because that’s where they have most often been found, but there is in fact no obligatory association. They are simply much easier to spot growing on moss than on the forest duff.

Poisonous look-alikes: There are no poisonous look-alikes. There are two other Craterellus species can be confused with C. cornucopioides. C. cinereus has well-formed, decurrent, forked gill like ridges similar to the pseudo-gills of the chanterelles.C. foetidus also has some pseudo-gills, though they are slightly less prominent than the pseudo-gills of C. cinereus. Though C. foetidus is fragrant, the odor is not as fruity as the odor of the black trumpet. Both of the look-alikes are edible and choice.

Craterellus cinereus Craterellus foetidus

Tips on harvesting/storage: To harvest black trumpets, cut the mushroom off at ground level. Store them in paper or wax paper bags (or wrapped in wax paper). When cleaning black trumpets, cut larger mushrooms in half lengthwise as there can be debris in the funnel. Cut off the dirty bottom part of the stem if necessary.

Black Trumpets are difficult to find, but they can grow in quite large clusters. They often can be found in the same location year after year.

Possible allergic reactions and symptoms: There are no recorded allergic reactions to this mushroom. Take the normal precautions when trying black trumpets for the first time (eat only a small amount and keep a specimen for identification in case you have a problem).

This mushroom is extremely versatile in cooking. Black trumpets have a very distinct strong, somewhat fruity mushroom flavor. Many have used black trumpets as the main flavoring for some dishes: black trumpet bisque, black trumpet and goat cheese spread and black trumpet stuffed pork loin. Some also use it like a seasoning to add flavor to dishes where other mushrooms provide the bulk.


Young C. cornucopioides
Cluster of C. cornucopioide Wavy margin C. cornucopioides
Ocher outer surface C. cornucopioides collection


Kuo, Michael – Craterellus cornucopioides. 

Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club, July 2010 Mushroom of the Month.. 

Tom Volk’s Fungus of the Month for October 1998. 

Arora, David (1979, 1986) Mushrooms Demystified, Ten Speed Press, pp. 666-68.

Kuo, Michael and Methven Andrew S. (2014) Mushrooms of the Midwest, University of Illinois Press, pp 162-63.

Lincoff, Gary H. (1981) National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, Alfred A. Knopf , pp. 494-95, plate 443.

Phillips, Roger (1991, 2005) Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America, Firefly Books, p. 213.