Cap 2.5-7 cm broad, convex, at maturity nearly plane, the disc often depressed; margin incurved, becoming decurved; surface dry, finely tomentose, color variable: orange, yellow-orange, orange brown, darkest at the disc, sometimes arranged in faint concentric bands, fading in age; flesh thin, pallid to pale orange.
Gills narrow, close, decurrent, repeatedly forked, orange, usually brighter than the cap.
Stipe 2-7 cm tall, 0.5-1.0 thick, equal to enlarged at base, central or eccentric in attachment; surface dry, concolorous with the cap; veil absent.
Spores 5-7.5 x 3-4.5 µm, elliptical, smooth, dextrinoid; spore print white.
Solitary, scattered to clustered on woody debris under conifers; especially abundant on wood chips; fruiting from early fall to late winter.
Probably edible, but there is insufficient local experience to recommend it. It is listed as edible by some authors, poisonous by others.
Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca is recognized by an orange to orange-brown, finely tomentose, thin-fleshed cap, brightly colored, dichotomously branched, decurrent gills and white spores. It is often abundant in Bay Area parks, where wood chips are used as mulch, less so in natural woodlandsThe common name suggests confusion with Cantharellus cibarius, but the yellow chanterelle is much fleshier, has blunt ridges rather than true gills, a smooth, not tomentose cap surface, and is terrestrial, not lignicolous. Omphalotus olivascens, the Jack O'Lantern fungus, a toxic species, is also sometimes mistaken for Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca. It, however, is also more robust, is colored yellowish-olive rather than orange to orange-brown, and has gills that lack the characteristic forked branching pattern.