Monday, September 26, 2011

Coral Fungi

One of my favorite fungi has shown itself in abundance this year. Blue Jay Barrens hosts several types of coral fungi, but they always seem to appear in scattered small clumps. This year, one species of coral fungus is producing large colonies.

I believe this is White Coral, Ramariopsis kunzei. There are several species that have a similar appearance, but this one grows in the ground while the others live within dead wood. When I ID a fungus, the best I can do is check physical characteristics and habitat. When the descriptions go into details about spore shape and spore surface texture, I’m at a loss.

If I’ve made a proper identification, then we’re looking at an edible species. I’m not sure it would be worth losing the fantastic vision of this fungus in order to eat it. In the mushroom guides, the edibility scale seems to start at the top with choice and then proceed downward through excellent and good before it reaches edible. Does this mean that edible is less than good? I think I would rather consume mushrooms from the choice end of the scale.

The basic shape of each stalk is similar, but the clumps vary greatly in size and configuration. A spider has webbed this clump to make a spiky fortress. It reminds me of the thicket around Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

I most often find coral fungi growing at the base of hills in the darkest of the cedar thickets. If any place is going to stay cool and moist, it’s a location like this.


  1. Pink Coral! I've only seen white and cream. This is beautiful!

  2. I've eaten it - I've just picked and eaten raw when I've been walking. I don't know what it would be like cooked but it tastes nice enough raw.

  3. Didn't know that fungi can be so beautiful. This is the first time I learned of coral fungi, and I just love it:)

  4. Be still my heart - I love fungi! These are really nice photos.

    With all the rain this year, I've been hoping for a stellar mushroom fall but I haven't seen a one yet! Glad you've got some.

  5. Hi, Susannah. The color choice was white, yellow, or pink. I rarely see pink, so I concentrated on that color.

    Hi, Rebecca. I usually don’t snack like that when I’m out because it just makes me hungry. I may try a little next time I’m out, but I’ll wait until I’m on my way back to the house, just in case I need a hearty sandwich after.

    Hi, Mona. Fungi are one of those things that seem to increase in beauty as you get closer. I just can’t pass up an opportunity to take photos of fungi.

    Thanks, Gabrielle. Fungi emergence can be a hard thing to predict. Maybe those high altitude mushrooms are on a different schedule.

  6. I just LOVE these fungi! I spotted a bunch of them last week and was totally delighted...I'm hoping to find some more purple ones this year too...

  7. Hi, TGIQ. I've never seen any of the purple corals. I'll bet they're pretty neat.