Though it isn’t a choice edible, the purple laccaria is pretty good when combined with other mushrooms or strong flavors. Meanwhile, even casual naturalists can appreciate seeing this beautiful lavender mushroom.
This species of comb tooth (Hericium americanum, formerly called H. coralloides) is closely related to the comb tooth known today as H. coralloides (which itself was formerly known as H. ramosum). Both comb tooths (comb teeth?) grow on dead wood or live trees, and both are branched, but H. americanum has long spines (not short). There will be a quiz on this at the end of the class period!
The fruiting body of this mushroom is branched, usually in 3-sided groupings, with crownlike tips. The color is yellowish, becoming tannish or, as in this specimen, pinkish. It grows on dead wood in the summertime.
Although this species is edible, be careful: It has been known to cause gastrointestinal upset. Important clues for identifying a crown-tipped coral are: It is one of the few corals that grow on wood; if you take a tiny taste, it will be peppery; and the tips are crownlike, like the pinnacles of a tiny castle.
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