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Ramariopsis kunzei (Fr.) Corner - Ivory Coral

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Clavariales - Family: Clavariaceae

Ivory Coral, Ramariopsis kunzei

This branching coral fungus is not always easy to spot when it is growing in mossy grassland, but in woodlands it may be almost entirely buried under wind-blown leaf litter.

Ramariopsis kunzei, Wales

Distribution

An infrequent find in Britain and Ireland, Ramariopsis kunzei is also found in most temperate parts of mainland Europe and Asia. This species is known to occur also in North America.

Taxonomic history

Some club-like and coral-like fungi are ascomycetous, but fairy clubs of Ramariopsis and related genera belong to the Basidiomycota.

Ramariopsis kunzei was was originally described in 1821 by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries, who gave this species the scientific name Clavaria kunzei. The name Ramariopsis kunzei dates from a 1950 publication by British mycologist Edred John Henry Corner (1906 - 1996).

Synonyms of Ramariopsis kunzei include Clavaria kunzei Fr. Clavaria subcaespitosa Peck, Clavaria elongata Britzelm., and Ramaria kunzei (Fr.) Quél.

Etymology

The generic name Ramariopsis means resembling Ramaria, while the specific epithet kunzei honours German botanist/mycologist Otto Kuntze (1843 - 1907).

Identification guide

Ramariopsis kunzei closeup

Description

Upright repeatedly-branching fruitbody arising from a common pruinose (finely-downy or felted) basal stem; surface smooth white, cream or occasionally pinkish; flesh whitish and brittle to moderately flexible; complex fruitbody typically about 6cm but occasionally up to 12cm in height and 5 to 8cm across. Terminal tips may be either blunt or pointed.

Spores of Ramariopsis kunzei

Spores

Broadly ellipsoidal to subglobose, finely warty, 4-5.5 x 3-5µm.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

No noticeable odour; taste mild but not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on the ground among leaf litter in deciduous woodland, and occasionally in unimproved mossy grassland.

Season

June to December in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Ramariopsis subtilis is more slender and has smaller, less warty (sometimes smooth) subspherical or spherical spores.

Clavaria fragilis has white unbranching spindly fruitbodies.

Culinary Notes

Ramariopsis kunzei is reported to be edible, but it has no significant culinary value and is surely best left so that others can enjoy seeing it.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

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