black trumpet mushrooms popping out of the leaves
black trumpet mushrooms popping out of the leaves

Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Prolific, tasty, and easy to identify, black trumpet mushrooms check off all the right boxes, whether you’re a forager or a foodie. Don’t worry if you struggle to spot them at first. They’re well camouflaged and often blend into a thick layer of dead oak leaves. But when you do find one, stop and look around, for there’ll likely be more. A good day of black trumpet foraging isn’t measured in bags, baskets, or buckets, but multiple bucketfuls, with a 100+ pound haul not uncommon. If you have extra, even better. They dehydrate and rehydrate well, so you can keep them in your pantry all year long, even when they’re out-of-season. 

A handful of black trumpet mushrooms freshly foraged from the earth.


Are black trumpet mushrooms edible? 🍽️

Not just edible, but prized, delicious, and unique enough to be the focal point of a fancy restaurant dish. As a bonus, black trumpets dehydrate well because their flesh is so thin, making it easy to store them for long periods of time. Keep them on hand in an airtight jar to toss into soups or add them to pizza and pasta after a quick soak. 

Are black trumpets psychedelic? 🦄

Nope, just tasty AF. That being said, they do look like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland, like you’d expect music to start playing from their tubular funnels as they morph into living phonographs. But no, there’s nothing even remotely mind-altering about this mushroom.

When are black trumpet mushrooms in season? 📅

They can fruit any time from late winter through spring and even into early summer during the wettest of years. On the North Coast of California, most folks consider black trumpets a spring mushroom. Once all the chanterelles, hedgehogs, and candy caps have bid adieu, it’s time to scour the steep slopes in search of trumpets.

What do black trumpets taste like? 👅

Honestly? They taste exactly like you’d want, hope, and expect a gourmet mushroom to taste. There’s nothing funky or unusual going on here. Imagine you’re run-of-the-mill grocery store mushroom, but with a flavor that’s much more amplified, concentrated, and focused. Some people say they’re cheesy and truffle-like. Others claim to taste a hint of smokiness. Pretty much everyone, though, is in agreement that they’re one of the best edible mushrooms anywhere.

Are there any black trumpet mushroom look-alikes? ☠️

Not in California! That’s one of the things that makes black trumpets so fun to forage. You don’t have to worry about nasty, toxic, poisonous look-alikes waiting to make you sick — or worse — if you happen to make a mistake. 


Never eat a mushroom you can't identify with 100% certainty. When in doubt, throw it out. Your life is worth more than a few bites of fungi. 🍄

A pile of freshly foraged black trumpet mushrooms.

A Well-Earned Dinner

Foraging black trumpets usually means clinging to steep slopes covered in dead oak leaves. You might as well be hiking up and down a slip-n-slide. A good walking stick (or some trekking poles) goes a long way toward keeping you off your ass. Look for north-facing hillsides, tanoak trees, moss, and dark soil. Once your eyes get used to spotting these black beauties, you’ll be surprised just how many you discover.

How to Identify a Black Trumpet Mushroom

Black trumpet mushrooms are a good species to target for foragers who are just learning to wander the woods in search of shrooms. They’re a rather distinct fungi with no toxic look-alikes (at least here on the North Coast). They’re often abundant, fruiting by the bucketful. And their flavor is unique and delicious. Always use a field guide, like Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast, to definitively identify your bounty. And if you’re still unsure, find a local expert who can help. More often than not, they’ll be stoked to assist!


It’s growing on the ground

Black trumpets never grow on dead, decaying, or live wood — they always fruit from mycellium in the soil. Look for steep hillsides with dark, bare, mineral rich soil and moss.


It has a tubular, funnel-shaped cap with ruffly edges

They’re called trumpets because they look like one. The cap will vary in color from dark black to gray. Its ruffled edges will sometimes have light outlines which can help foragers spot this mushroom in thick leaf litter.


It doesn’t have gills or even ridges

Instead, the underside of a black trumpet’s cap is smooth (much like its stipe). The color varies, but is usually a shade of gray and almost always lighter than the cap itself.


It’s hollow

Black trumpet mushrooms have thin flesh and are mostly hollow. It’s a good idea to split them apart and clean them before adding them to recipes. Rocks, bugs, and other bits and pieces of the forest can find their way inside.


It has a strong fresh smell

The exact odor is different for everyone, but often described as fruity, floral, cheesy, or even truffle-like. Black trumpets smell how you’d expect a wild delicacy of the forest to smell: strong, but not offensive or overpowering in the least.


It grows with certain trees

Black trumpet mushrooms are mycorrhizal, which means their survival depends on forming symbiotic relationships with the roots of certain trees. On California’s North Coast, black trumpets co-exist with live oaks and tanoaks, usually on steep slopes with patches of exposed soil and moss. 

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All That the Rain Brings and More: a mushroom field guide.

Recommended Reading

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms

If you're looking for a useful field guide that's small enough to actually bring out into the field when you go mushrooming, look no further than this gem from famed mycologist and author David Arora. One of its coolest features is a flow chart on the inside covers that quickly guides you to the proper section of the book. There's just enough information on each mushroom to be useful, but not in the least bit overwhelming. This is a fabulous book for beginning foragers, but you're more than likely to find it on the shelves of experienced mushroom hunters, too.