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Hericium coralloides

[ Basidiomycetes > Russulales > Hericiaceae > Hericium . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This delicately beautiful Hericium fruits from dead hardwood logs and stumps, sometimes in huge patches that can be seen from quite some distance. It is recognized by its short (mostly about 1 cm long) spines, and the fact that the spines hang in rows along delicate branches.

I am tempted to say that Hericium coralloides is aptly named, since it looks rather like an underwater coral. But the naming of the few species in Hericium has been anything but "apt" over the years. In fact, you are likely to find this species listed as "Hericium ramosum" in all but the most current field guides--and you are likely to find another, different species listed as Hericium coralloides! That mushroom, which would now be called "the mushroom formerly known as Hericium coralloides" if it were a pop star from the eighties who wore purple velvet, is now known as Hericium americanum; it also hangs it spines from branches, but the spines are typically longer than 1 cm.


Ecology: Saprobic and possibly parasitic; growing alone or gregariously; typically fruiting from fallen hardwoods branches and stumps, but very rarely reported from the wounds of living hardwoods (perhaps as a result of misidentification); late summer and fall (also winter and spring in warmer climates); widely distributed and common.

Fruiting Body: 8-35 cm across; consisting of branches that arise from a more or less central core; with spines averaging about 1 cm long that hang in rows along the branches; white, or in age discoloring brownish to yellowish.

Flesh: White; not changing when sliced.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3-5 x 3-4 µ; round or nearly so; amyloid; smooth or minutely rough.

REFERENCES: (Scopoli, 1772) Persoon, 1794. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1888; Harrison, 1973; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Ginns, 1985; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Barron, 1999; McNeil, 2006; Kuo, 2007.) Herb. Kuo 09280304, 09120803.

Further Online Information:

Hericium ramosum (= coralloides) at Roger's Mushrooms


Hericium coralloides

Hericium coralloides

Hericium coralloides

Hericium coralloides

Phillips (1991/2005) reports the possibility of a variety or form of Hericium coralloides from northeastern North America: "A pink form of Hericium [coralloides] turned up at a foray in Oneonta, New York; it was referred to as Hericium [coralloides] var. rosea, of which I can find no trace in the literature" (278). Phillips's photo matches the photo above, representing a specimen collected by Richard Nadon in Quebec; it matches Hericium coralloides in all respects except for the pinkish color.

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Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2003, October). Hericium coralloides. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: