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coral fungi

Coral fungus

Coral fungi, also sometimes called antler fungi, are mushrooms that are so named due to their resemblance to aquatic coral or antlers.

Initially all classified in the genus Clavaria, they were later split out into several genera including Clavicorona, Clavulina, Clavulinopsis, Macrotyphula, Ramaria and Ramariopsis.

Some superficially similar species are not so closely related; the fairy club genus Clavariadelphus belongs to the family Gomphaceae, while the genus Calocera is an entirely different organism of the class Dacrymycetes.

Coral fungi can be similar in appearance to jelly fungi. They are often brightly colored, mostly oranges, yellows, or reds, and usually grow in older mature forests. Some coral fungi are saprotrophic on decaying wood, while others are commensal or even parasitic.

A number of coral fungi are edible, although they should be cropped while young; when old, these fungi are fibrous or dry and woody. Some (such as Ramaria flava) have been reported to have strong laxative effects though they are palatable Some are too small to be worth gathering. However, some species are poisonous with acute gastrointestinal symptoms arising from consumption. These include Ramaria pallida, known as colic coral and Ramaria formosa, yellow tipped coral fungus. R. flavobrunnescens has been responsible for the death of livestock in Brazil.

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