White Coral Mushroom

Coral mushrooms resemble pieces of underwater (marine) coral. Formerly all coral fungi were grouped into one genus, Clavaria. Now based on microscopic, chemical and DNA data there are over six genera of coral fungi. Thus, the white coral mushroom (Ramariopsis kunzei) formerly was known as Clavaria kunzei.

Found throughout northern North America as well as Europe, Asia and Australia, white coral mushrooms grow in mixed woods and are most prevalent in conifer forests. The white coral habitat is in the duff on the ground or occasionally on decaying wood.  These mushrooms are saprobes, getting their nutrition from decomposing or dead organic matter.

The white coral fruiting body is erect to somewhat spreading – up to 2″ in height and up to 1.6″ in width. It is white to creamy in color and may be tinged with pink or a yellow, particularly with age. There is a short stalk and the branch tips are blunt. White spores are formed on the surface of the branches. This mushroom can be variable in shape and form.

White coral mushrooms are edible but rather bland in taste. My personal feeling is why bother to collect and eat such small mushrooms. They look too pretty peeking out from the dark forest floor to destroy.

These white coral mushrooms were growing under Douglas fir trees along the Falls Trail in Burney Falls State Park CA.

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