, commonly known as the beautiful clavaria
, handsome clavaria
or pink coral fungus
, is a coral fungus
found in Europe and North America. It is widely held to be mildly poisonous, with consumption results in acute gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and colicky pain. It is a pinkish, much-branched coral-shape reaching some high. Some forms collected in North America often lack the bitter taste common to European specimens and may represent a different species.
It was initially described by Christian Hendrik Persoon
in 1797 as Clavaria formosa
before being placed in its current genus by French mycologist Lucien Quélet
in 1888. The generic name is derived from Latin rāmus
'branch', while the specific epithet comes from the Latin formōsus
'beautiful'. There is some confusion over its classification as there is evidence the binomial name as been applied loosely to any coral fungus fitting the description, and thus some collections from North America may be a different species. Common names include beautiful clavaria, handsome clavaria, yellow-tipped- or pink coral fungus.
The fruiting body of Ramaria formosa
grows to a height of ; it is a many-branched coral-like structure, the yellow tipped pinkish branches arising from a thick base. Terminal branches are less than 0.5 cm in diameter. The flesh is white, an important feature as edible members of the genus have yellowish flesh. Old specimens may fade so the original colour is hard to distinguish. The spore print is yellow. The smell is unpleasant and taste bitter. However, the taste has been reported as indistinct in North America.
Distribution and habitat
Fruiting in autumn, Ramaria formosa
is associated with beech
and is found in Europe, and North America. Forms from the western areas are known to occur under conifers.
Consumption of the fungus results in acute gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, colicky abdominal pain and diarrhoea. The toxins responsible are unknown to date. It has been reported as edible if the acrid tips are removed.