Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Native Species Profile - Coral Tooth Fungus

 A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the Bear's Head Tooth Fungus (Hericium americanum).  Today I want to share a few photographs about a closely related species, the Coral Tooth Fungus (Hericium coralloides).  This species is saprophytic, meaning that it breaks down dead and decaying organic matter for its food source.  Like the Bear's Head Tooth, the Coral Tooth is most commonly found on deciduous logs.

Fruiting bodies of the Coral Tooth Fungus

For most of the year this fungus is invisible to us, residing inside a decaying log as root-like mycelium.  The fruiting body is only seen in late summer or fall when the fungus is ready to reproduce by sending microscopic spores into the wind.  The spores from the Coral Tooth are white colored. 

A close-up of the fruiting body showing the branching coral-like structures

The fruiting body of this fungus grows as a thick white stalk that branches into structures that greatly resemble coral - as its species name coralloides suggests.  This fruiting body can grow as large as 12 inches across by 12 inches tall.  A log that contains the mycelium may have several of these fruiting bodies growing from it.  As the fruiting body ages it fades from white to a yellowish or brownish color.

This log had more than a dozen separate fruiting bodies - ranging in size from a couple of inches to a foot across

This species is also known as the Comb Tooth and was previously classified as H. ramosum.

Basic Information

Coral Tooth Fungus
Hericium coralloides

Size:  up to 12" by 12"
Habitat:  found on deciduous logs in woodlands; rarely on living trees or conifer logs
Color:  white; fades to yellowish or brown
Bloom Time:  summer to fall

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