Overall look is that of a capped mushroom (often becoming contorted with age) covered with a finely bumpy, vivid orange to orange-red layer of mold; gills are often entirely obscured. July–October. An entire host mushroom (often a nonedible white species of Lactarius or Russula) is covered with a bright orange to orange-red, moldlike parasitic fungus. The surface of the parasite has fine bumps and is somewhat hardened. The gills of the host mushroom can be entirely obscured by the parasite. When cut through, lobster mushrooms are pure white inside, which indicates the color of the host mushroom. Spore print is clear. Spores magnified are spindle-shaped, and strongly warted.
The lobster mushroom is very unusual. There are no lookalikes in Missouri.