Overall look is that of a capped mushroom (often becoming contorted with age) covered with a finely bumpy, vivid orange to orange-red crust 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.
Habitat and Conservation
Mushrooms are a lot like plants, but they lack chlorophyll and have to take nutrients from other materials. Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals. They are in a different kingdom — the fungi. Fungi include the familiar mushroom-forming species, plus the yeasts, molds, smuts, and rusts.
Always be cautious when eating edible mushrooms. Be absolutely sure of the ID, and only eat a small amount the first time you try it to avoid a reaction..