Clavulina coralloides (L.) J. Schröt. - Crested Coral

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Cantharellales - Family: Clavulinaceae

Clavulina coralloides - Crested Coral

This small fungus with crested branch tips is probably the most commonly encountered of the many coral-like fungi in this genus; it is easily spotted when it occurs beside woodland footpaths.

Distribution

Common and widespread in woods and occasionally in grassland in Britain, Ireland and other parts of northern Europe, Clavulina coralloides is also recorded in North America and in many other temperate parts of the world.

Clavulina coralloides - Crested Coral

Taxonomic history

Crested Coral was described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus in his Species Plantarum, wherein he gave it the scientific binomial name Clavaria coralloides. This species remained in the genus Clavaria for more than a century, until in 1888 the German mycologist Joseph Schrötter (1837 - 1894) transferred it to the genus Clavulina, thereby establishing the currently-accepted scientific name Clavulina coralloides.

Crested Coral, has acquired several synonyms including Clavaria coralloides L., Ramaria cristata Holmsk., Clavaria cristata (Holmsk.) Pers., Clavulina cristata var. lappa P. Karst., Clavulina cristata (Holmsk.) J. Schröt., Clavulina cristata f. subcinerea Donk, Clavulina cristata var. coralloides Corner, Clavulina cristata var. incarnata Corner, Clavulina cristata var. subrugosa Corner. The synonym Clavulina cristata was commonly used in field guides until recently.

Etymology

The specific epithet coralloides means resembling coral.

Identification guide

Clavulina coralloides fruitbody

Fruitbody

The fused branches rise up from a base typically 1.5 to 2.5cm tall and reach a total height of up to 7cm. The tips of this white to cream coral fungus turn brown with age.

When attacked by micro fungi, this coral can turn grey or even black, making identification more confusing.

Spores of Clavulina coralloides

Spores

Broadly ellipsoidal to subspherical, smooth, 6-9 x 6-7.5µm; inamyloid.

Spore print

White.

Basidia

Club-shaped, 2-spored.

Odour/taste

Odour not distinctive; taste mild but not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Considered to be mycorrhizal, singly or in small groups on the ground beneath deciduous and coniferous trees, very often beside footpaths; occasionally in unimproved dune grassland with Dwarf Willow.

Season

August to December in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Clavulina rugosa is a white, round-tipped slightly branching fungus with more distinct surface wrinkles.

Culinary Notes

Although reportedly edible, Crested Coral is so insubstantial (and said to be insipid) that it is not generally collected for food; we have no recipe information for this species.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

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