10 Mushrooms that Look Like Coral

Artomyces Pyxidatus or crown tipped coral mushroom
© Kristini/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jonathan Mingori

Published: October 4, 2023

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What could be more fascinating than discovering fungi shaped like ocean coral while walking the forest? Continue reading to learn more about 10 gorgeous mushrooms which look like coral that you can find in your local forests. Some of these fungi are, in fact, edible.

1. Artomyces pyxidatus

Artomyces pyxidatus wild mushroom. Crown coral or crown-tipped coral fungus. Selective focus.

The Crown-Tippped coral mushroom has 3-6 points at the top.

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Artomyces pyxidatus is called the “Crown-Tipped Coral” mushroom because of its crown-like pointed tips. Most importantly, this is edible, very common, and grows on wood in eastern North America.

2. Hericium coralloides

Hericium coralloides growing in the forest on a fallen birch

“Comb Tooth” is an edible mushroom which looks like coral.

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Hericium coralloides is a highly branched, edible mushroom that certainly resembles coral. Moreover, it is edible and delicious when young and white. This species grows on trees and logs, and is commonly known as “Comb Tooth” or “Coral Tooth”. In fact, the Latin word “Hericius” means “hedgehog“.

3. Hericium americanum

Hericium americanum, commonly known as the bear's head tooth fungus, is an edible mushroom in the tooth fungus group.

“Bear’s Head Tooth” is an exciting species to find.

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Hericium americanum forms more compact branches than Hericium coralloides. Nevertheless edible, this coral-shaped mushroom is delicious when young and white, and “Bear’s Head Tooth” is a popular common name. In addition, this also grows on harwood trees and logs.

4. Ramaria botrytis

Mushroom pink coral Ramaria Botrytis

The “Cauliflower Coral” is edible.

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Ramaria botrytis is easy to recognize with its stout, whitish base, and its densely packed pink tips. Common names include “Clustered Coral”, “Pink-Tipped coral”, or “Cauliflower Coral” for these reasons, and this edible coral mushroom grows alone, in groups, or in rings.

5. Ramaria formosa

Ramaria formosa coral fungus - up to 150mm tall - NSW, Australia

The “Salmon Coral” mushroom is toxic.

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Ramaria formsa is a gorgeous, pinkish coral which is definitely not for the dinner table, as eating this species will cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Incidentally, it is one of the most common Ramaria found in mixed forests of north eastern North America.

6. Clavaria zollingeri

Violet Coral Fungus - Clavaria zollingeri

“This is one cool little fungus” -Michael Kuo.

©Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com

Clavaria zollingeri is one hot find! This purple antlered coral receives its nutrients by breaking down organic matter in the soil. And eating a purple coral mushroom- what could be cooler? Keeping this in mind, this is edible in small amounts for most people.

7. Clavulinopsis fusiformis

Golden spindles mushroom (Clavulinopsis fusiformis)

“Golden Spindles” can be edible when not bitter.

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Clavulinopsis fusiformis forms a cluster of bright yellow tongues fused at a single base, and subsequently carries the common name “Golden Spindles”. Sources vary, however, on eating this mushroom as the taste can be bitter.

8. Clavulina coralloides

White Coral Fungus or Crested CoralFungus (Clavulina coralloides), Baden-Württemberg, Germany

The “Crested Coral” mushroom is common is conifer forests.

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Clavulina coralloides is initially white to cream or pale yellow, and has multiple branches, which have somewhat flat tips with tiny teeth. Furthermore, the Ascomycete Helminthosphaeria clavariarum often attacks the “Crested Coral”, causing this to become gray to black in color,

9. Sebacina schweinitzii

 The spores of the true coral fungi develop on structures (basidia) on the exterior of their branches while spores of Tremellodendron pallidum develop on basidia within the branches.

This jelly fungus smells like burned popcorn.

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Sebacina schweinitzii is a new name, recently chaged from Tremellodendron pallidum. This is actually a jelly fungus, and not a true coral mushroom. As for eating this, it has a tough and rubbery texture, and it also carries an odor of burned popcorn. In other words, no it is not.

10. Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa

Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa variety, Flower and plant Macro material on black background

This tiny coral-shaped slime mold is common on decaying logs.

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Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa is a slime mold and not a true fungus. Not at all edible, this is nonetheless always fun to find. The genus name Ceratiomyxa comes from the Latin word “ceratus” meaning “waxed”, and the ancient Greek word “myxa” meaning “mucus”.


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About the Author

Jonathan Mingori is a writer at A-Z Animals covering the topic of fungi. Jonathan is a primarily self-taught amateur mycologist since 1996, during which time he has consumed upwards to 100 species of wild mushrooms. A resident of Montreal, QC, Jonathan adores spending time with his cat, Sweetums. When Jonathan is not mushroom hunting, he listens to a wide range of music, collects and trades vinyl records, and loves to tie-dye.

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