Pig’s Ear

Botanical: Gomphus clavatus

Description: Fruiting body vase shaped, 2.5 to 10 cm wide, up to 20 cm high, with two or more irregularly shaped caps rising from a shared stem and often fusing together at their edges. Upper surface pale brown to light or dark lilac, often fading to creamy tan or paler, smooth or with very tiny, scattered scales.  Undersurface wrinkled, dark lilac or purple when young but often fading to pale lilac, running down the stem. Stem 10 to 50 x 10 20 mm, very short, often curved, sometimes fused with adjacent stems, buff to pale lilac; smooth to minutely hairy. Flesh whitish to pale pink or lilac. Taste “mushroomy.” Smell none to mild.

Habitat: Mycorrhizal with spruce and fir, growing singly to gregariously, usually close to roots or tree trunks, late fall to mid-winter.

Primary Keys: Tawny upper surface with dull wrinkled lilac undersurface; vase shaped with wavy edges; frequently fused together clumps; near fir trunks/roots.

Edibility: Some consider this a choice edible, others find it mediocre, while others purportedly get gastric distress. Most guides consider it edible but, as always, sample first!

Pig’s Ear
Photo © Michael Wood, courtesy of MykoWeb

Notes: This distant cousin of the Chanterelles is easy to distinguish. If it sorta looks like the ridges of a Chanterelle instead of distinct gills, and sorta looks like the top of a Scaly Chanterelle, is sorta orange on top and violety-purple below, and is very near a fir trunk or root, it’s probably a Pig’s Ear. It’s actually much harder to describe than to identify!

Gomphus Soup

1 lb. Gomphus clavatus, cut into 1″ matchsticks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1-2 poblano chilies, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. no-salt butter
2 t. epazote (or Mexican oregano)
1 T. salt
1/2 t. ground white pepper
1 T. flour
2 C. chicken stock
1 C. water
1 C. half-and-half
1/2 C. Mexican crema
(or creme fraiche or sour cream)
1 medium Haas avocado

Note: You can find dried epazote in the Mexican section in some grocery stores, or in a Mexican grocery store. You’ll need to pick out the tough stems.

  • Saute mushrooms over medium heat in a soup pot with 1 T. butter until tender but not browned.
  • Remove mushrooms from pot and set aside.
  • Saute onions and chilies with the remaining butter for 4 to 5 minutes until soft but not browned.
  • Add the garlic and epazote, and saute for another 2 minutes without browning.
  • Add the salt, pepper and flour, saute another 2 minutes stirring continuously.
  • Add the stock, water, and all but 1/2 C. of the mushrooms. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes uncovered, or until vegetables are very soft.
  • Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Run the soup thru a blender until fairly smooth, then return to pot. Add half-and-half and reheat slowly without boiling. Adjust seasonings.
  • Ladle soup into bowls, and top each with a dollop of crema, a couple thin slices of avocado, and a few of the reserved mushroom sticks.