Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 17

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

[Go to Part 1 of Words for Mushrooms and Other Fungi]

Chanterelle mushroom

One of the most popular and abundant wild mushrooms to eat are the chanterelle mushrooms of which there are many species and varieties. They are found in in Eurasia, North and Central America and Africa. They go by the generic name chanterelle (mushroom) in English, pronounced [ˈʧæntəɹɛɫ] or [ˌʃɒntəˈɹɛɫ].[i] In Spanish, this type of mushroom is known primarily as rebozuelo, but also as anacate or chantarela.[ii] Mushroom hunters must be careful since there are poisonous look-alikes, such as the jack-o’-lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius). Originally, all the known chanterelles were all assigned to the genus Cantharellus but they are now seen as species from at least four different genera that happen to share external similarities: Cantharellus, Craterellus, Gomphus, and Polyozellus.


Figure 20: Chanterelle: Cantharellus cibarius)[iii]

Perhaps the most common or well-known type of chanterelle are the highly-prized yellow chanterelle or golden chanterelle, whose botanical name is Cantharellus cibarius. Another common name for this mushroom is girolle or girole, pronounced [ʤəˈɹ̯ɫ], which is a late 19th century loan from French, which was first attested in 1513 in Middle French and which may come ultimately from classical Lat. gyrus ‘circle, circuit, career’, alluding ‘to the shape of its cap’ to which a diminutive suffix was added (‑olle/‑ole) (OED).

There are at least eight other species of the genus Cantharellus that are considered to be chanterelle mushrooms besides Cantharellus cibarius: Cantharellus cascadensis (Cascade chanterelle), Cantharellus cinnabarinus (cinnabar red chanterelle),  Cantharellus formosus (Pacific golden chanterelle), Cantharellus lateritius (smooth chanterelle), Cantharellus subalbidus (white chanterelle), Cantharellus enelensis (discovered in 2017), Cantharellus minor, Cantharellus roseocanus (a distinct species since 2012).

At least five species of the Craterellus genus are also known as chanterelles. One of the better known ones is the black trumpet mushroom, also known as horn of plenty, black chanterelle, or trumpet of the dead. Two related species are lumped together under the name black trumpet: Craterellus cornucopioides in Europe and Craterellus fallax in Eastern North America. Its most common Spanish names are trompeta de los muertos ‘trumpet of the dead’, cuerno de la abundancia ‘horn of plenty’, and trufa del pobre ‘poor man’s truffle’.[iv] As you can see in Figure 13, there is no clear separation between the stem and the cap of this mushroom. Rather, the mushroom is shaped as a funnel or like a trumpet. It is found in woods in Europe, North America, and East Asia, mostly in moist areas in the shade under under beech and oak trees.


Figure 21: Black trumpet mushroom[v]

Another chanterelle from the genus Craterellus is the funnel chanterelle, also known as yellowfoot or winter mushroom, whose botanical name is Craterellus tubaeformis, formerly known as Cantharellus tubaeformis, since it was thought to belong to the Cantharellus genus.[vi]


Figure 22: Craterellus tubaeformis[vii]

Finally there are at least two more species whose name may contain the word chanterelle, from yet two different genera. One is the violet chanterelle, also known as pig’s ears, whose botanical name is Gomphus clavatus. The other one is blue chanterelle, or, in Alaska, black chanterelle, whose botanical name is Polyozellus multiplex.

The genus name Cantharellus is a New Latin word derived from Lat. canthărus ‘a large, wide-bellied drinking-vessel with handles, a tankard, pot’ by means of the Latin diminutive suffix ‑ell‑us. Lat. canthărus is a loanword from Ancient Greek κάνθαρος (kántharos) ‘drinking cup or vessel, chalice’ and the source of Sp. cántaro for a large usually clay vessel, with a narrow mouth, wide belly, and narrow foot, usually with one or two handles. Note that English has borrowed cantharus or kantharos to refer to ‘a large, two-handled drinking-cup’ of classical times (OED). The name chanterelle is the French version of the New Latin name, first attested with this sense in 1752, though there are other, unrelated, earlier words chanterelle in French related to the word chant ‘song, etc.’ and chanter ‘to sing’ (cf. Sp, canto, cantar). The Spanish analog would be cantarito ‘small cántaro’, which happens to be the name of a Mexican cocktail made with tequila and fresh citrus juice and typically served in a clay glass.


Figure 23: Cántaro Anguita, Guadalajara Spain[viii]

Go to Part 18



[iii] Source: De Andreas Kunze - Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12685420 (2022.01.22)

[vii] Source: By Jörg Hempel, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35949525 (2022.04.12)

[viii] Source: Cántaro of Anguita (Guadalajara, Spain). Natacha Seseña Legacy Fund, 10 May 2012, Own Work, Milartino, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:C%C3%A1ntaro_Anguita,_Guadalajara_Spain.JPG (2022.04.12)


Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 16

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

[Go to Part 1 of Words for Mushrooms and Other Fungi]

Beech mushroom

This is a saprotrophic mushroom native to East Asia, a region that comprises China, Japan, Mongolia, and Korea, but which is cultivated in most temperate climates today. It grows in bunches, which have a long stem and a small cap, which may be brown or white. Its botanical name is Hypsizygus tesselatus.[i] In the past, two other botanical names that have been used for this species of mushroom, namely Hypsizygus marmoreus and Pleurotus elongatipes, which have been superseded by the new name that is considered more correct. Since they typically grow on beech trees, their most common name in English is beech mushroom, though clamshell mushroom is another common name. In Spanish, it is often called by a calque of the name beech mushroom, namely seta de haya ‘beech mushroom’.


Figure 18: Brown beech mushroom[ii]

There are two varieties of the beech mushroom species, brown and white, the latter having been developed from the former in recent times artificially in Japan. These mushrooms sometimes go by their Japanese names in both English and Spanish: buna-shimeji (ブナシメジ) for the brown one and bunapi-shimeji (ブナピー) for the white one. The Japanese word shimeji (シメジ占地, 湿, or しめじ) refers to ‘any of a group of edible mushrooms used in Japanese cookery’ (Wiktionary).[iii] There are 6 types of shimeji mushroom in Japan. Besides the two just mentioned, the remaining four are hon-shimeji (ホンシメジ), Lyophyllum shimeji; hatake-shimeji (ハタケシメジ), Lyophyllum decastes; shirotamogidake (シロタモギダケ), Hypsizygus ulmarius; and Velvet pioppino (alias velvet pioppini, black poplar mushroom, in Chinese: 茶樹菇/), Agrocybe aegerita.  In Chinese, the name for the beech mushroom is 鴻喜菇 (hóngxǐgū) or (zhēnjīgū).


Figure 19: Japanese popular mushrooms, clockwise from left, enokitake, buna-shimeji, bunapi-shimeji, king oyster mushroom and shiitake (front)[iv]

As for the origin of the botanical name for this species, the genus name Hypsizygus it is a New Latin word formed from two Greek roots: (1) hypsi‑ ‘aloft, on high’ (cf. Ancient Greek ὕψι (húpsi) ‘aloft, on high, on the high seas’, which is probably related to ὑπέρ (hupér) ‘above’, source of Eng. hyper‑ and cognate with Lat. super); and (2) zygus from the root of the noun ζυγόν (zugón) ‘yoke’ (Hypsi‑zyg‑us). This name refers to the place where the mushroom is typically attached to its host tree. As for the species appellative tesselatus, it comes from Lat. tessellātus (two l’s) ‘of small square stones’, passive participle of the verb tessellare, derived from tessella ‘small cube’, a diminutive of tessera ‘a square, a cube, a die with numbers on all six sides’, a loanword from Ancient Greek τέσσαρες (téssares) ‘four’.[1] Another well-known species of this genus is Hypsizygus ulmarius, the elm oyster mushroom.

Go to Part 17



[1] Note that English has borrowed the noun tessera and the verb tessellate or tesselate (US). The noun tessera means ‘a small block of stone, tile, etc. used in a mosaic’ or ‘(in ancient Greece and Rome) a small tablet of wood or bone used as a token’ (COED). The verb tessel(l)ate means ‘decorate (a floor) with mosaics’ or ‘Mathematics cover (a plane surface) by repeated use of a single shape, without gaps or overlapping’ (COED).



[ii] Source: By Apple2000 - Self-photographed, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4005281 (2022.01.22)

[iv] Source: By FotoosVanRobin from Netherlands - Asian mushrooms, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2904514 (2022.04.11)


Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 15

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

[Go to Part 1 of Words for Mushrooms and Other Fungi]

Enoki or enokitake mushroom

Another popular edible mushroom is one whose most recent botanical name is Flammulina filiformis, though earlier it was seen as the variant filiformis of the species Flammulina velutipes (F. velutipes var. filiformis).[i] One dictionary defines this species as ‘an edible agaric that is available in early spring or late fall when few other mushrooms are; has a viscid smooth orange to brown cap and a velvety stalk that turns black in maturity and pallid gills; often occur in clusters’ (WordNet). Flammulina velutipes grows wildly on the stumps of a variety of trees, such as the Chinese hackberry tree, but also the ash, mulberry, and persimmon trees. The wild and the cultivated types of the mushroom can be quite different in appearance.


Figure 16: Wild enokitake[ii]

This mushroom’s Japanese name is enokitake (榎茸 or エノキタケ), which is also used in English, along with its short form enoki ( or えのき), the name of the Chinese hackberry tree (Celtis sinensis), to which the Japanese word take () ‘mushroom’ is added (see above). The word enoki is itself a compound of (e) ‘Chinese hackberry’ +‎ (no) ‘of’ +‎ (ki) ‘tree’. Two other common English names for this mushroom are velvet shank and winter mushroom. In Spanish, this mushroom is also known by its Japanese abbreviated name enoki or by the name seta de aguja de oro, a calque of its Chinese name jīnzhēngū (金針菇) that literally means ‘gold needle mushroom’, cf. 金針 (kinshin) ‘gold needle (used in acupuncture)’ and (gū) ‘mushroom’.


Figure 17: Cultivated enokitake[iii]

The genus name Flammulina is a New Latin word, oddly form as so many other such words that we have seen, derived from the Latin word flamma ‘flame, fire’, source of the cognates Eng. flame and Sp. llama. The form flammulina was meant as a diminutive of flamma and it was motivated by the color of mushrooms of this genus. As for the species epithet fīlĭfōrmis that follows the genus name in the biological binomial nomenclature, it is also a New Latin third-declension adjective that means something like ‘threadlike’ since it is formed by the root fīl‑ of the word fīlum ‘thread’ (cf. Sp. hilo ‘thread’, a patrimonial word) and the root fōrm‑ or the word fōrma ‘form, shape’ (fīl‑ĭ‑form‑is).[1] Lat. filifōrmis is the masculine and feminine nominative wordform of the adjective, whereas the neuter form is filifōrme. From this comes the learned Spanish adjective filiforme ‘threadlike, spindly’, cf. the English adjective in biology filiform ‘thread-like’, first attested in mid-18th century.

Go to Part 16



[1] As for the epithet velutipes, it is a New Latin word related to the New Latin word velūtīnus, derived by means of the suffix ‑in‑us (cf. Eng. ine, Sp. ino) from Medieval Latin velūtum ‘velvet’, which perhaps comes ultimately from Vulgar Latin *villūtus, which ultimately comes from the Latin noun vellus ‘fleece’ (cf. Sp. vello ‘down; (body) hair’). The reason for the name is the velvety stipe (cf. https://www.wordsense.eu/velutinus).



[ii] Source: By Archenzo - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24474 (2022.04.11)

[iii] Source: By Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19676 (2022.01.22)


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 14

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

[Go to Part 1 of Words for Mushrooms and Other Fungi]


King trumpet mushroom

Our next mushroom also belongs to the genus Pleurotus as the oyster mushroom (see above). The two of them are closely related, although they look rather different. Its botanical name is Pleurotus eryngii and it is popularly known by a variety of names, including king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom, and French horn mushroom, the latter names due, no doubt, to its shape.[i] In Spanish, this mushroom is known as seta de cardo, literally ‘thistle mushroom’.[ii] It is very common in Spain, where it is greatly prized and used in its cuisine.


Figure 14: King trumpet mushroom[iii]

Species of the genus Pleurotus primarily feed on decaying wood but the Pleurotus eryngii complex can also be parasitical on the roots of herbaceous plants and, like Pleurotus ostreatus, it may be cultivated on organic wastes. Actually, Pleurotus eryngii is considered to be a ‘species complex’, that is, ‘a group of closely related organisms that are so similar in appearance that the boundaries between them are often unclear’ (WP).[iv] The different varieties are associated with different plants that they feed on. The one that was first described by botanists is Pleurotus eryngii var. eryngii (1872), which is associated with plants of the Eryngium genus, which are ‘annual and perennial herbs with hairless and usually spiny leaves’ (WP), such as Eryngium campestre.[v]


Figure 15: Eryngium campestre, Tauberland, Germany[vi]

There are some 250 plant species of the genus Eryngium, and common English names include (field) eryngo (for Eryngium campestre) and (sea) eryngo or sea holly (for Eryngium maritimum; note that these plants are unrelated to true hollies, which belong to the genus Ilex. The eryngos are not true thistles but they are often confused with them because of their similar appearance and habitats. Spanish names for these plants, especially for Eryngium campestre, are cardo corredor and cardo setero, using the word meaning ‘thistle’. 

The word thistle also refers to plants from different genera. One dictionary defines it as ‘any of numerous often weedy plants of several genera of the composite family, including Cirsium, Carduus, and Onopordum, having prickly leaves and floral bracts’ (AHD). An example of a thistle plant is milk thistle, whose botanical name is Silybum marianum (Sp. cardo mariano, among other names). As you can see, Spanish uses the word cardo both for true thistles and for the similar eryngos, which explains the most common name for this mushroom in this language, seta de cardo ‘thistle mushroom’.[1]

We already explained the meaning of the genus name Pleurotus in the preceding section. As for the epithet eryngii, it is the genitive singular of Lat. ēryngĭon (also ēryngē) for a thistle-like plant, possibly either the eryngo or the ‘spotted yellow thistle’ (Scolymus maculatus) (L&S). This Latin word is a loanword from Ancient Greek ἠρύγγιον (ērúngion) (also ἠρύγγη ērúngē), of uncertain origin. The OED claims that Greek ἠρύγγιον is the diminutive of ἤρυγγος (ḗrungos), supposedly ‘the name of this plant, also a goat's beard’ (OED), a word that is probably of pre-Greek origin, though some have tried to relate it to the word ἔαρ (éar) ‘spring’. The related word Eryngium for the genus of the plants that these mushrooms are associated with is a New Latin term derived from Lat. ēryngĭon.

Eng. eryngo was borrowed from Lat. eryngion in the late 16th century, first for ‘the candied root of the Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum), formerly used as a sweetmeat, and regarded as an aphrodisiac’ (OED), a meaning that is now obsolete. Later, Eng. eryngo came to be used for ‘the plant itself, or any other of the same genus’ (OED). If Spanish ever borrowed this Latin word, it would have been as eringio, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that it is currently in use, despite the OED’s claim that it exists.

Go to Part 15



[1] Sp. cardo comes from Lat. cardŭus ‘the thistle, wild thistle’ (L&S). The word cardo is used informally to refer to an ugly person, or a surly person (‘persona arisca’, DLE).

Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 13

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

[Go to Part 1 of Words for Mushrooms and Other Fungi]


Oyster mushroom (hiratake)

Species of the Pleurotus genus of gilled mushrooms are among the most cultivated mushrooms in the world, as they are much appreciated for cooking, especially in Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine, where they are considered a delicacy, but also in other parts of the world. They are saprotrophic mushrooms found wild growing on trees in temperate and subtropical forests around the world. They are characterized by an offset cap, not centered on the stem or stipe, if there is even one, which is what the name Pleurotus refers to in Latin (see below).


Figure 11: Pleurotus ostreatus[i]

There are several dozen species in this genus.[ii] Some of the better known species, in particular the species Pleurotus ostreatus, go by the names oyster mushroom, abalone mushroom, or tree mushroom in English.[iii] The reference to oysters (and abalone) is no doubt due to their shape, which varies somewhat from species to species. The reference to trees is because these mushrooms grow on the sides of trees, not on the ground.


Figure 12: Oyster mushrooms on a tree[iv]

Spanish has a number of names for these mushrooms, some of which also make reference to oysters or similar things: seta de ostra ‘oyster mushroom’, hongo ostra ‘oyster mushroom’, seta de concha ‘shell mushroom’, champiñón ostra ‘oyster mushroom’ (note that here the word champiñón is used as a generic word meaning ‘mushroom’, like in French, see above), as well as seta de chopo ‘poplar mushroom’, orejón ‘lit. big-ears’, and orellana.[1] Another, typically Spanish name for some varieties of this genus and in particular the species Pleurotus ostreatus, is gírgola, although this word is not found in any of the regular Spanish dictionaries. It is found, however, in Catalan dictionaries, the language where this word may come from.[v]

The species Pleurotus ostreatus of this genus, found in North America and northern Eurasia, is perhaps the best known species of the Pleurotus genus. Its most common name in English is oyster mushroom, but also pearl oyster mushroom. Some also know it by its Japanese name, hiratake (ひらたけ).[vi] In Chinese, it is known as 平菇 (pínggū) which means literally ‘flat mushroom’. Another common member of this genus is P. pulmonarius, which is found in North America, Eurasia, and Australasia and is known as phoenix or Indian oyster mushroom. Another well-known species is P. eryngii, known as king oyster mushroom, found in Europe and the Middle East, which we will discuss separately in the next section.


Figure 13: Oyster mushrooms, Havré, Belgium[vii]

The name of the taxonomic genus these mushrooms belong to, Pleurotus, is a New Latin word, created by scientists, and related to the name of the family this genus belongs to, namely Pleurotaceae. These words were created from two Ancient Greek roots, the one of the nouns πλευρά (pleura) ‘side’ and ὠτός (ōtós), genitive form of οὖς (oûs) ‘ear’, making allusion to the fact that the cap of these mushrooms is not centered on the stipe but is somewhat off, or sometimes there seems to be no stipe and the cap grows directly off the tree. The appellative ostreatus of the species name means something like ‘oystered’ is derived from the Latin (first declension, feminine) noun ostrea ‘oyster, mussel’, a loanword from Ancient Greek ὄστρεον (óstreon), by means of the Latin suffix ‑ātus which, among other things, derives adjectives from nouns (see above).[2] And, indeed, the shape of some of these mushrooms reminds one of the shape of oysters.

Go to Part 14



[1] Sp. ostra is a cognate of Eng. oyster since both descend from Latin ostrea, which was a loanword from Ancient Greek ὄστρεον (óstreon) or ὄστρειον (óstreion). Eng. oyster is a loanword from Anglo-Norman/Old French oistre (cf. Modern French huître).

[2] Sp. ostra seems to be a late 16th century loanword from Portuguese. The original Spanish words were ostria or ostia (the loss of the r presumably due to the influence of hostia ‘host, Eucharistic wafer’, DCEH), cf. Fr. huître, It. òstrica, and Gall. ostria. The word for ‘oyster’ in some varieties of Spanish, such as Andalucía and Cuba, derive from the original Spanish word in the augmentative ostión.

Ancient Greek στρεον (óstreon) is thought to be related somehow to Ancient Greek στέον (ostéon) ‘bone’. This word is found in the medical word osteoporosis in English and Spanish, a compound that also contains Greek πώρωσις (pṓrōsis) ‘petrification, callousness’, from Greek προς (pôros) ‘tuff, a porous type of rock’.



[i] Source: By Charl de Mille-Isles from Mille-Isles, Canada - Pleurotus ostreatus / Pleurote en huître, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17373646 (2022.04.08)

[iv] Source: By voir ci-dessous / see below - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3330721 (2022.04.10)

[vii] Source: By voir ci-dessous / see below - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3330811 (2022.04.10)

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 12

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

[Go to Part 1 of Words for Mushrooms and Other Fungi]

Common mushrooms: Chicken-of-the-woods mushroom

Chicken of the woods is the popular name for a polypore mushroom (like the maitake) with a bright orange color found all over the world. Other popular names for these mushrooms in English are sulphur shelf, chicken mushroom, or chicken fungus. The reference to chickens is due to its taste and texture, not its appearance.


Figure 10: Laetiporus sulphureus (sulphur shelf)[i]

These names refer to not just a single species but to a whole genus of parasitic mushroomscomprising some 18 specieswhose botanical name is Laetiporus. Some of the best known species of this genus are Laetiporus sulphureus and Laetiporus cincinnatus.[ii] Spanish names to refer to this mushroom are calques of its English names, such as pollo del bosque ‘chicken of the woods/forest’, cangrejo de los bosques ‘crab of the forests’, and plataforma de azufre ‘sulphur platform’.

The genus name Laetiporus was coined by American mycologist William Murrill in 1904. It is a New Latin ‘word’ derived from the root laet‑ of the adjective laetus/a that meant both ‘happy, cheerful, glad’ and ‘fertile, luxuriant, lush, rich’ and the word pŏrus (see above). The epithet sulphureus means ‘sulphurous (containing sulphur)’, which refers to its yellow color. The epithet cincinnatus is a real Latin word, an adjective that means ‘with curled hair, having locks or ringlets of hair (as an indication of luxurious effeminacy)’ (L&S), which clearly refers to the shape of the brackets or shelves of these mushrooms.[1]



[1] The Latin adjective cincinnātus is also indirectly the source of the name of the city Cincinnati in Ohio and 5 other places (in Arkansas, Indiana (2), Iowa, and Missouri). They were named after a 5th-century BCE Roman hero, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, ‘a Roman patrician, statesman, and military leader of the early Roman Republic who became a legendary figure of Roman virtue—particularly civic virtue—by the time of the late Republic’ (Wikipedia). Cincinnatus was his cognomen or family name, which was often in origin a nickname, as in this case. The word is formed from the noun cincinnus ‘lock of curly hair’ and the adjective-forming suffix ‑ātus. The noun cincinnus was presumably a loan from Ancient Greek κ́κννος (kíkinnos), with the same meaning. English has borrowed the word cincinnus as a technical term in botany.


Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 17

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook  Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Span...