Learning to Use Coral Mushrooms

Mature crown tipped coral mushroom, coral mushroom

Several weeks ago, while scouting for firewood in the woods, I ran across some coral mushrooms. I had no recollection of having seen them before and their  unique appearance really caught my attention. So, I took some pictures and decided to investigate, thinking, “Surely, this is a mushroom I can identify beyond a shadow of a doubt.” It didn’t take long to identify them and to learn that, though there are several different  kinds of coral mushrooms, the great majority are edible. “Cool!” I thought.

If you scavenge for mushrooms you better be SURE they’re safe!

There are some mushrooms out there that are so toxic that a single bite can kill a person. So, it’s very important to be careful. I once asked a local mushroom person for tutoring, but to no avail. So, how to proceed?

  • First, I wanted to find a very distinctive mushroom, like this, one which is hard to confuse with a deadly species. I researched and found that the only really dangerous coral mushrooms aren’t even found in my part of the world, and they are bright red in color. Immediately below you’ll find a link to the article which best helped me to give this one a go.

Forager/Chef on Coral Mushrooms

  • Next, having determined that these mushrooms were almost certainly safe, we picked a few, cooked up a bit and trieda bite or two. We left it at that until the next day. If there was any chance they might cause digestive upset, we wanted to be safe and eat very little. Remember, I had already determined that there was no similar mushroom on our continent, which was really dangerous. (Also, I took many photos of the mushrooms, in the wild, to compare with images in my mushroom guide book.)
  • Once we went more than 12 hours with no digestive upset at all, we picked more and included them in a meal. Wallah! We had added a new item to our inventory of foragable foods!

Two easily confused mushrooms, both edible: Clavacorona pyyxidata and Ramaria botrytis 


Coral mushrooms, coral mushroom
This is most likely ramaria botrytis (Coral mushroom). Remember, only eat a coral mushroom if it is pale colored, white or tan.

Some sources say that coral mushrooms don’t taste particularly good. We’ve sauteed them and “eaten them straight.” I liked them fine, but the ladies in the household said they’d prefer to combine them with other foods. We’ve added them to soups and stews with great success. Additionally, we’ve dehydrated them, storing them in jars for future use.

Cooked coral mushroom on dish
This mixed dish of rabbit mean, beans and onions also has a cooked coral mushroom on top. The mushroom was dehydtrated before it was cooked.

To read about a great plant to forage in the spring, see: Pokeweed: Foraging, Easy as Pie.


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2 thoughts on “Learning to Use Coral Mushrooms”

  1. Hi George. Thanks for spreading love for these mushrooms instead of parroting outdated field guides, many are really good to eat. My .02 here. Clavicorona pyxidata is now in the genus Artomyces, a moot point really. Image of the coral above doesn’t appear to be R. botrytis as they cluster very tightly when young. Most Ramaria can be eaten, safest is probably to boil unknowns first before cooking–common practice in Latin America with these as well as with lobster mushrooms.

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