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Clavariadelphus unicolor

[ Basidiomycetes > Phallales > Gomphaceae > Clavariadelphus . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This odd little mushroom is fairly easily recognized, but not so easily found. It typically fruits in the fall, just as the leaves of deciduous trees are falling. Mushroom hunters in areas where oaks and hickories predominate sometimes call this time of year "helmet season," referring to the danger posed by falling acorns and nuts; hunters who frequent walnut groves call it "body armor season." Clavariadelphus unicolor, with its pinkish to reddish brown colors, is hard to distinguish from fallen foliage.

The defining features of Clavariadelphus unicolor include the shape of the mature mushrooms (which look cut-off and flattened), its colors (reddish brown to violet brown), and its bright yellow reaction to KOH. Its relatively small spores and mild taste also help to separate it from look-alikes.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with hardwoods or conifers--particularly oaks and pines; growing alone, scattered, gregariously, or in small clusters; widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains (also recorded from Texas and Mexico); fall.

Fruiting Body: 3-10 cm high; 2-6 cm wide; cylindric or club-shaped when young, later enlarging at the top and appearing cut-off and flattened; surface smooth or broadly wrinkled; pinkish to reddish brown; sometimes bruising darker brown; the base inserted into the soil.

Flesh: White; soft; sometimes staining brownish orange on exposure.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Chemical Reactions: Surface bright yellow in KOH.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 8.5-11.5 x 4.5-6 µ; broadly elliptical; smooth.

REFERENCES: Corner, 1950. (Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Methven, 1990.) Herb. Kuo 10030301, 10160302.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Clavariadelphus unicolor

Clavariadelphus unicolor

Clavariadelphus unicolor

Clavariadelphus unicolor

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