Ramaria abietina (Pers.) Quél.

Ramaria abietina, Nomeda Vėlavičienė, Wikipedia Commons

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Gomphales - Family: Gomphaceae

One of the first of the woodland coral fungi, Ramaria abietina can appear as early as June. Often these corals form large arcs and occasionally fairy rings beside the buttress roots of conifers. (Picture Above: Nomeda Vėlavičienė)

Distribution

Ramaria abietina is an occasional find throughout Britain and Ireland; it occurs also throughout most of mainland Europe, from Scandinavia right down to the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula.

Ramaria abietina

This species occurs in many parts of North America, where it is commonly referred to as the Green-staining Coral and some of the latest field guides list it under the scientific name Phaeoclavulina abietina (Pers.) Giachini (2011).

Taxonomic history

The species was described in 1794 by Christian Hendrik Persoon, who gave it the scientific binomial name Clavaria abietina. French mycologist Lucien Quélet transferred it to the genus Ramaria in 1888, when its scientific name became Ramaria abietina.

Synonyms of Ramaria abietina include Clavaria abietina Pers., Clavaria ochraceovirens Jungh., Ramaria ochraceovirens (Jungh.) Donk, Merisma abietinum (Pers.) Sprengel, Hydnum abietinum (Pers.) Duby, Clavariella abietina (Pers.) J.Schröt., and Phaeoclavulina abietina (Pers.) Giachini.

Ramaria abietina, France

Etymology

Ramaria, the generic name, comes from Ram- meaning branch, with the suffix -aria meaning possessing or furnished with. Ramaria coral species are indeed furnished with numerous branches.

The specific epithet abietina is derived from the Latin for a fir tree (Abies genus), but this coral seems to favour spruces; however, Picea abies is the scientific name for the Norway Spruce.

Identification guide

Ramaria abietina, aged fruitbody turning greenish

Fruitbody

Repeatedly branching woodland coral whose final branches terminate in two or three laterally-compressed pointed tips; colour yellowish at first becoming more olive (see picture on the left) at maturity; branches turn greenish when bruised.

The pale stout stem is short, mainly buried below the surface of the substrate, and covered in downy white mycelium; tough and fibrous, the flesh is whitish.

2.5 to 5.5cm tall and up to 5cm across the whole fruitbody; often gregarious with several fruitbodies merging. (Picture Above: Holger Krisp, Ulm, Germany, Wikipedia)

Spore, Ramaria abieina

Spores

Broadly ellipsoidal to pip-shaped, smooth, 6-8 x 4-4.5μm.

Show larger image

Spore print

Yellowish.

Odour/taste

No significant odour but a bitter taste.

Habitat & Ecological role

Under conifers, most commonly spruce trees, usually on acidic soil.

Season

July to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Ramaria flaccida is typically somewhat larger and it does not bruise greenish.

Culinary Notes

Ramaria abietina is insubstantial and it is generally considered to be inedible. Note that some coral fungi that look quite similar to Ramaria abietina are known to be poisonous.

Reference Sources

Pat O'Reilly, Fascinated by Fungi, 2011.

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.

Other web pages on this species

Leif Goodwin (UK)

Michael Wood & Fred Stevens (USA) - under synonym Phaeoclavulina abietina

Top of page...


Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd edn, hardback

If you have found this information helpful, we are sure you would also find our book Fascinated by Fungi by Pat O'Reilly very useful. Author-signed hardback copies at a special discount price are available here...

Other nature books from First Nature...